Academic Barriers Hmong Students Face in the United States
The Hmong, an Asian ethnic group, came from an oral culture, where they did not have any written form until the 1950s (McCall, 1999). The Hmong lived an agricultural lifestyle in the hill and mountain areas in Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand (McCall, 1999; Tatman, 2004). They focused on physical labor to provide food for the family and lacked formal education, as it was not essential (Lee & Green, 2008; McCall, 1999).
During the Vietnam War, the Hmong helped assist the United States government. However, when the United States withdrew from the war, the North Vietnamese and Laos Communist government declared genocide on the Hmong (Tatman, 2004; Thao, 2003). Thus, the Hmong were left to defend themselves and flee to refugee camps in Thailand for safely (McCall, 1999). This resulted in the Hmong migrating to the United States during the late 1970s through 2007 in waves as refugees. They reside in California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin (Collier, Munger, & Moua, 2012; Lee & Green, 2008).
Upon their arrival, Hmong faced “multiple social, cultural, educational, economic, and institutional barriers and challenges” (Hmong National Development, 2004; Lee, Jung, Su, Tran, & Bahrassa, 2008,…show more content… Hmong students who participated in Lor’s research shared that “their parents’ financial resource were not enough to put them through college, as their parents did not have much formal education” (2008, p. 46). In fact, it has been recorded that Hmong are “the poorest and most highly unemployed immigrants in the United States” (Su, Lee, & Vang, 2005, p. 482; Swartz, Lee, & Mortimer, 2003; Yang, 2003). For this reason, Hmong high school students are encouraged to apply for financial aid, work-study programs, scholarships, grants, and seek employment to help pay their postsecondary expenses (Lor,