The Collegian

9/8/04 • Vol. 129, No. 7

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Conference gives hope to our new 'neighbors'

University comes out in support of 3,000 new Hmong refugees; offers to welcome, assist at Tuesday’s forum


A
fter speaking about the history of the Hmong, KSEE 24 news reporter Zoua Vang shared her own family's experience in Thailand and travels
to America.

KSEE Channel 24 news reporter Zoua Vang said the arrival of 55 Hmong refugee families to Fresno serves as a reminder that freedom is not free.

“These new people need lots of help and support,” Vang said of the about 3,000 new Hmong refugees that recently arrived in Fresno. “We are now paying the cost of having the Hmong assist us in fight the communist regime in the Laos mountains during the Vietnam War.”

Vang spoke in the Satellite Student Union on Tuesday as part of a forum held to welcome and assist the new refugees titled Living Well in America: The University’s Role in Hmong Refugee Resettlement.

Vang, who is Hmong refugee herself, gave a history of the Hmong and shared her family’s personal refugee experiences through two short film segments that aired on KSEE 24.

Many of these refugees have family living in Fresno that will help them adjust to their new life in America, but many will arrive need of assistance. Kathy Garabed, director of Stone Soup Fresno, offered ideas to faculty and students to help integrate the current Hmong refugees, who do not speak, read or write English.

“Mentor one family as they adjust to life in the United States, or tutor children or adults in a variety of subjects,” Garabed said.

Geri Yang, a senior communications major, attended the conference to show support for the Hmong refugees.

“All of them come here with the hope of educating their kids and having a good life,” Yang said. Her family has welcomed some of the refugees to their home for dinner.

Yang also hopes students will open their hearts and minds to the refugees and try to help the families in any way.

“If this community gives the Hmong people a chance, they will give back so much,” she said.

Fresno State will host a “Welcome to America” celebration at the Save Mart Center next year after all the refugees have arrived.