Distinguished speakers highlight HmongYES fundraiser

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The Hmong Youth Education Services (HmongYES—formerly Laus Youth Society) held an annual fundraising event June 24 featuring several guest speakers. Among the guest speakers were Tom Watkins, who provided data on the status and standings of Hmong students in the St. Paul Public Schools district; Dr. Zha Blong Xiong, a tenured professor at the U of Minnesota; and KaZoua Kong Thao from the St. Paul Public School Board of Directors. The featured guest was General Vang Pao who made a brief speech honoring HmongYES.

Parents and students gave their encouragements on the program and shared their experiences. Kao Lee, the program director, shared his aspirations of HmongYES. “What makes this program unique is that it focuses on the youth and [their] future education.” Lee clarified that it also takes family effort to help the youth succeed, but the youth always comes first.

With five different programs offered, HmongYES is receptive toward all sorts of Hmong youths — Home Tutor Program, Hmong Youth Mentoring Project, Teen Leadership, Touching Technology, and Summer Reading Camp. The program helps maintain the seriousness of education within the Hmong Community. HmongYES provides an academically propelled shelter for Hmong children who are determined to learn or otherwise have no resources to work with. Every young individual has limitless potential, which is why HmongYES believe that it is their mission to “nurture and develop successful Hmong youth through education programs”.

Minnesota, specifically the city of St. Paul, is host to the nation’s largest Hmong population. Tom Watkins, of the St. Paul Public Schools Data Center, reported that there has been an overall improvement in Hmong student performances and graduation rates. Most of the students are doing well on the Stanford Achievement Tests, the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment Test (MCA’s), and the Basic Standards (a high school graduation requirement).

Watkins pointed out that having been in the United States for only 30 years, the increase in academic improvement among the Hmong is quite impressive for such a short period. However, the challenges that Hmong students are encountering now are lack of enrollment in advancement placement (honors) courses and the completion of college.

While there are still some areas needed of improvement and attention, much has been accomplished already. HmongYES promises to be part of the support system that will be readily available for Hmong students.

For more detailed information, visit: “www.hmongyes.org”:http://www.hmongyes.org and “datacenter.spps.org”:http://datacenter.spps.org