Hi, my name is Peng Vang, a Hmong American student from Minnesota (MN). For me, coming from a bigger city than Menomonie felt a bit different, but its a work in progress. I was interested about this program as my F.R.E.E program coordinator lead me to it. Once I saw the program, I knew it was going to be a great program for myself. During my first week here at UW-Stout, I could not believe that I was actually here. The long drive, the wait of wanting to do something with my summer, and the strive to gain new experiences that will be useful in the future. I knew that I was leaving everything behind in the cities, but it was an experience to be learned and to adapt to the environment of a smaller town. Once I was outside my residential hall, I was amazed by the looks of it, in my head I thought "It looks better than how it looks like online." After the first few days of getting a tour of the campus, I was surprised by how spread out the campus was from building to building, that was my first impression of the campus. Meeting my fellow housemates was an opportunity to know one another and learn from each other. From meeting everyone here, I felt that it will be a great time getting to know one another and working together on the project.
However, the first weekend of the program gave us some time to explore Menomonie. As a group, we took the chance to visit the Farmers Market down by the race tracks. Once we got there, it felt great seeing different citizens and others that came from Minnesota. As we roamed around the different stands, we came upon a fellow Hmong man. I asked him in Hmong, "Ntau npaum li cas no (How much are these)," as I was referring to the green onions, my housemates were amazed by the language. It was fascinating to see some Hmong people in the area of Menomonie. After that, I came upon a old Hmong couple, who did not know I was Hmong until I said "Nyob zoo", which means "Hello". We talked for about 10 - 15 minutes and they were very generous and offered me a bag of green beans for me to enjoy and make something out of it.
During the first week, we were already working on our projects based on the lake. We found out interesting facts about the lake as we thought it was beautiful and calm at this time of the year, the worse of the worse about the lake was just beginning. That will be all for now.
Stay tuned for this weekend's blog!