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Coming together: Hmong New Year celebration set for Friday at Woodbury High School

School District 833

Jackie Bock wasn't sure how many people would attend the 2015 Hmong New Year celebration, the first event of its kind at Woodbury High School.

"I was crossing my fingers hoping for one hundred," said Bock, a math and social studies teacher. "When 250 showed, I was floored."

District 833 students and their families are invited to celebrate the Hmong New Year celebration Friday, Dec. 9, at Woodbury High School. It will feature Hmong students in native costume as well as Hmong music, food, games, raffles and a photo booth.

The event is sponsored by the Hmong Asian American Culture Club.

Bock said a group of Hmong sophomores approached her two and a half years ago about forming their own club. They asked her to be their faculty advisor.

"They said 'We want a club for us. We want a club that when we get together, we understand each other, it's a safe space for us,'" Bock said.

Club president is Audia Thao.

The Hmong New Year, which coincides with the harvest, can be celebrated at different dates in the late autumn.

"Historically Hmong New Year is a little earlier, but with our academic calendar that was not possible," Bock said.

About 70,000 Hmong live in the Twin Cities area. The first wave of Hmong emigrated to Minnesota from Laos following America's withdrawal from the Vietnam War in 1975. Many had fought on the side of the West against the communists and faced bloody reprisals.

The Hmong have wandered for centuries without a homeland.They fled persecution in China in the late 18th century and settled in Laos and in the remote mountainous regions of Northern Vietnam.

If you go

The Hmong New Year celebration is 6-9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9 in the cafeteria at Woodbury High School, 2665 Woodlane Drive, Woodbury. Visitors should use the south entrance. The event is free and includes games, prizes, Hmong food and music. For more information, call 651-356-9135 or email audiathao022@gmail.com.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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