Center for Hmong Arts and Talent's Youth Leadership Group creates safe space and conversation

What’s happening with CHAT’s Youth Leadership Group?

With spring rolling through, our Minnesota landscape that was once covered by white flecks of frozen water is beginning to look a little greener. As the snow starts to melt, that means a new start, a new year and new faces for CHAT and the Youth Leadership Group (YLG). After two months of outreach and recruitment, the 2014 Youth Leadership Group has taken shape and is moving forward with their wonderful plans for the community.

On Thursday, March 20th the Youth Leadership Group officially kicked off their year with an orientation lead by CHAT Executive Director Fres Thao, Program Manager Tria Vang and YLG Counselor Jennifer Thao. With a focus on safe space and the importance of conversation, the new YLG members participated in activities that took them out of their comfort zone, allowing them to share their unique perspectives.

Through an activity called “sculpturing perspective,” each member paired up and “sculpted” their partner’s arms, legs and facial expressions to represent emotions such as success and bitterness. Although there were no two sculptures alike, the resemblance in perspectives were apparent -something to be appreciated among such a creative group of young leaders.

In addition “safe space soup” provided the members a chance to define what ingredients they need in order for YLG to be a safe space. In the end the YLG created their 2014 guidelines and values that include statements such as, “Respect not only each other, but yourself” and “Communicate!”

With pizza and wings, the YLG ate and encouraged each other on as they presented their challenge outcomes; prior to orientation day, each member was to research a local arts organization they would like to partner with in 2014.

Wong Thao and Pauchiang Yang presented on local Hmong news show HBC, stating they want to help create a “youth-lead Hmong news show.”

Paa Xiong presented a well thought out powerpoint presentation on The Loft Literary Center saying, “The website looks really cool, and then after looking around, the programs are quality and diverse.”

Other organizations researched and presented include In Progress and Intermedia Arts. In order for YLG to further familiarize themselves with the art allies of the Twin Cities, Program Manager Tria Vang and YLG Counselor Jennifer Thao have created a Twin Cities Arts Organization tour for this year’s 2014 YLG.

Throughout the year YLG will be organizing their quarterly Friday Night Lights Open Mic, with the first happening onFriday, April 18. On top of that they’re organizing the youth activities and lounge at CHAT’s 11th Annual Hmong Arts and Music Festival happening on July 4 and July 5 at Como Park, and volunteering at events such as the 10th Annual Soy New Year and the 8th Annual Fresh Traditions Fashion Show.

The doors remain open for youth 14-19 years old who are interested in becoming an active member of the Youth Leadership Group. As a member, you have the opportunity to learn from local Hmong professionals and artists, volunteer and organize unique events, and create an original theater piece to be publicly showcased at the end of the year.

It’s only March, and YLG is excited to meet you! This will be another busy year with lots of activities and events planned and organized by YLG, for you. Stay tuned for more!

The easiest way to sign up is to attend a Thursday night meeting at CHAT’s Studio 220 between 4:30-7:30pm. Drop-ins are okay! If you’d like additional information, email thaox337 [at] umn [dot] edu, or call 651-603-6971. Dare to have fun, make a difference and try something new? Print and fill out an application at here today.