Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Nam has Txiv

Hi, nyob zoo xyoo tsab. Kuv yog Moob Leeg. Peb yog Moob, peb yuav tsum tham lus Moob.
It's an intriguing thought of what my life would be half-way around the world at this very moment. Would I be educated? Would I have a job? Would I have (somewhat) equality? Would I have a family? What would I do for a living? How would others treat me? ...Would I be alive? 
This reminded me of Angelina Jolie's speech.

At first, this was just a thought for my facebook profile photo, but it really hit me five minutes later. At my age in Thailand, I would’ve been married around age 16 and have about four children by now. Maybe my husband might love me, maybe not because polygamy was practiced regularly. Education was and still is limited to the Hmong community and villages in Thailand, where I was born. My duty would be a stay-at-home mother. At least I would know how to be a better cook, kinda? I don’t think I would’ve had the option to pursue an education. My life would be different, but it wouldn’t change my heart and determination to give it my all.

Maybe I won’t be as … aggressive, assertive, demanding, dominant, independent... Crazy? As Thanksgiving comes to an end, I am grateful that I am in a different situation. I am grateful for the sacrifices my parents made to raise me in a better environment. I am grateful for my crazy family. If I didn’t have strong sisters and other female role models, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I am grateful for education that has helped me become and advocate for myself, the world I live in, and my beliefs. I am grateful for sports I participated in that has shaped me to be competitive and to give 200% everytime. I am grateful for relationships that has helped me reflect who I am, how I am, and how I work with another person. Unfortunately, it’ll take a few frogs to prepare myself for Prince Charming :P that’s for a different entry to come later. I am grateful for the hard times, for they’ve made me stronger each time, loved more each time, give more each time, work more, and appreciate more. Thank you everyone that has been on my side through the ups and downs of my life. Thank you for understanding when you go from #1 to #100 and sometimes, non-existent. Thank you. Ua tsaug.

Thinking out loud of my favorite movies:
I'm thinking about watching this documentary sometime this year.
This movie was one of my first memories with my grandma. This was how the girls in our family was called "The King's 7 Princesses." Sweet movie. Sweet memories.
I never get sick of this movie
This is a classic. It still makes me laugh
I fell in love with Takeshi Keneshiro here
The first Jet Li movie I saw and I was influenced!
Our potatoes!
Just funny
The REAL Jeremy Liin

MN Hmong New Year

I didn’t want to start blogging because I like to take my time. And that means at least an hour or two, but I’ll try to make this short and sweet.

Instead of Black Friday shopping, I went to the the MN Hmong New Year. I originally wanted to do short interviews (I’ll aim for that at my next HNY), but vlogging takes time and I was distracted. The difficult part was recording while you’re trying to enjoy the event, live in the moment, ya know? At one point, I had to bite the holder of my airpro as I filmed with the Nikon at the same time. I’m pretty sure I charged my iphone all night, but after an hour in, it was dead. I used the outlets in the building, but it wouldn’t charged. I decided to go to Andrew L Xiong and Kou Moua Photographys’ booth to use their Macs. They were very kind to let me charge it for about an hour and it lasted for the rest of the day. Watch the video to find out another Facebook ‘celebrity’ I ran into, 10k+ fb likes make the cut for me and that’s kind of the record at the moment. In fact, I think it’ll be a challenge for Hmong to compete in the social media field because the Hmong population is almost 1 million. On top of that, some of them do not have access to the internet. Ok, I’ll stop there and save that thought for a different entry.

This video took me three hours to edit last night and another two this morning. Why? Like writing a paper, you have to read your work from beginning to end, over and over again. This video doesn’t have all the clips I wanted to use. I uploaded the video five times on youtube before releasing it live to the public. Each time I reviewed the video, I noticed small changes to make. Once I made the change on iMovie, I had to wait about 30 minutes for it to completely upload on youtube. In fact, I’m only writing until the final version is ready to go live and I’ll post this entry up with the video link. I also had Lee Chang give me some feedback. He filmed one of the short scripts I wrote recently, so stay tune for that! Go like him on Facebook already! If you don’t know, he also does all the camera and editing for Lor Chang’s music and videos. See how easily off track I get? That’s a video compilation timeline for you :D.

If you don't have time for a 15 minute video, check out my 15secs instagrams. I hate to say it, but you have to watch it because you will learn some new things. I promise it'll be good and you'll be in for a surprise.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Trial and Error

At work, I’ve been working on the registration site for an event coming up. It has been quite a journey in this process to make sure the site runs smoothly. For now, it’s working great, until I encounter new problems. Of course there were great lessons learned :D!

I found that I have a lot of ideas, and most of them are not formed because the old one wasn’t good, I just think things can be done differently. I mean, if you’re going to start something, do it right, right? (This is probably why sometimes I can be a quitter when I reach the point that I’m not doing it right) For example, you can’t start a relationship with someone just for because it’s convenient or the other person is awesome in XYZ ways. jux saiyan. When I started the site, I simply copied the old one from the year before that was done by the person before me. Most of the settings were already great, but I just wanted the site to be better for users.

The event has 3 sessions with workshops and users can only select one. The original site allowed users to check mark as many sessions as they want, only to find out once they click next that they can’t continue because they chose more than one. To make this change and easier for users, I changed the setting from selection to radio. I didn’t look up what radio meant at that time; I just understood the difference. This made the site easier to use because the radio option chose the option users choose last before they continue to the payment page. This meant that each session required a 'no' option too.

The other edit I made was add a reminder in red to make sure users checked the box for their Saturday attendance to be included for the workshops, otherwise I would have to call them later and they have to go through their wallet again to make a payment. I also made that one of the first option on the registration page too. Overall, it was a great learning experience that reminded me so much of my past job experiences. My boss was very flexible and laid back through the whole process. She let me take the wheels, also because she doesn't like to micro-manage.

Once all the changes were made, the site was finally released to go live for people to register to attend the event. This was where all the trial and errors and learning finally happened. The first problem was the fees not showing up. Second was a session with conflicting time. Third was not being able to deselect an option. They sound simple to fix, but I was the phone for 30 minutes to resolve this immediately because people were registering as I made those changes and it’s a big event that couldn't wait another day to fix it.

This trial and error theme got me reflecting on my life journey so far. (For this blog, I've learned to write in googledocs, correct it in WORD, and then paste it in BlogSpot.) I've had job and relationship experiences to help form the best of me for a better person in all aspects of life (family, work, school, community, leadership). Take everything as a lesson (Dali Lama). My last position started at 7:30am and that meant I had to at least be up by 7am at the latest. My current job starts at 8:30pm. A whole hour makes a big difference. I wake up happier :D and I get enough sleep even if I stay up late. The one before that was at 8am. Now I know that 8:30am is the perfect starting time for me. One position had me working until 5pm every day and I did not like that at all. I felt like I didn't have a life. But age is also a factor. Getting off at 5pm works out for a lot of older people, but that wasn't what I needed at that time. As I get older, I know I’ll be ready for the 8-5 thaang.

The other thing I do every day is check my email that’s subscribed to the jobcenter. I have a job, but I’m still curious about what’s out there, what’s next, how do I move up, how do I gain more, what kind is going to make/help me grow? I’m not a hopper in the workforce; I’m an adventurer. As I browsed through some of those jobs, it made me conscious of my current situation. Education and experiences is what can help you control the cards you are dealt with, which was from Jerry Yang when he came to speak at UW-Whitewater. Some people have reached a point in their life that they are willing to work for someone else, whatever the pay may be, and it’s great that works out for them. One day we will all get there, whether if it’s working for someone or being our own boss, I just hope it’s something we believe in and only aim to make things better for everyone.

No one can take my education was often said by our parents. So many of us are fortunate we can still control what we make out of our lives through education. I’m not sure what anyone’s situation is, but it starts with believing in yourself and some hope. One thing you’ll need for sure is a support system. Let go of people who are dragging you down. I have a friend who was a single mom around age 22 and she completed her B.A. and Masters already. My sister also went back to school full time and she has four children. My other sister took the longest break after high school and she went back around age 28. Education is already making an impact in their lives. We can stay where we're comfortable or get more schooling to change our situations. The decision is yours. You are in control.

Many of us do not have any other obligations like our parents. We can invest in ourselves as much as we want to learn so many things to be whatever we want to be. Why do you think I am blogging about finding adventures and learning new things? I don't want to live with any regrets. If you’re not there yet, I hope you’ll get there. If you’re already there, I hope you can be there for those who need your guidance. Thank you for reading. Like. Share. Comment. I’ll take it all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


It's rare to find a Hmong artist, or art that displays Hmong. WI artist Lao Lao was featured at University of Wisconsin - Marathon County along with the UW-Stevens Point documentary, Finding the Middle Way. Since I only work a door away from the art gallery, I decided to use that opportunity to capture Hmong art as I work on my "film" skills.
This video took me about 15 minutes to record a few clips from different angles and photos. Editing the video took the longest; 1.5 hours ( and I've been working on this blog for another hour). The reason for that is because I listen to a lot of songs for the right fit. Following that, the right part has to play for the right section. It's the timing that takes time. There were a few messages I wanted to make sure I showed. I wanted to voice over it, but I think the drawings are pretty strong already. I'll just reflect on my song choices.
I'm working on #thehmonginme, so I featured Hmong music in the video. The local radios are great, but I have a hard time figuring out the titles to the songs played. It's not like I can just google it, or maybe I can and I just never tried...A lot of videos that I'll be working on will be about exploring the Hmong in me. This is something my father told me I was good at when he saw my first documentary for the NHD competition in 2008. Nay, parents are always right. If you are following me on instagram, you will see that hashtag often.

1. Touly Vakhue - This is the song that I've been plucking on the guitar. I don't remember which Hmong movie it came from, but that was where I heard it. Be thankful for the hard times, for they have made you (The Man In The Iron Mask). Before there was enough money to buy everyone their own technology devices, everyone in the house had to share. Part of that was sharing the VCR (yes, I linked it for anyone born in the 2000's) with my grandma. This song brings memories of watching movies with her. She felt a lot of emotions from the movies, and I didn't. Now I realized that she lived through so much to understand and comprehend the movies to feel what she felt. When I saw The Notebook (2004) at 17, I thought it was the most stupid romance movie ever, Yes, go cry a river Rachel McAdams! Two years later, I watched it again and it was so sad. Then I watched it ten more times,"I want all of you, forever, you and me."
Whoaa, that was way off track! Back to the concept of limited, it was a blessing in disguise. We were all stuck watching the same movies, so we had a lot of inside jokes and lines. Hmong dubb movies was one of the reasons I also learned most of my Hmong. Yes, the appropriate ones if you're wondering. My family also shared one computer and it was on dial up too. If you don't know, you might have to google this one. Sometimes my dad took us to the public library; lots of stories about that for a later post. Who else lived those days? When we finally got a computer at home, we always fought over it. Eventually my dad told us to share it by the hour. But who was I to complain? Those were first world problems.

2. The Sounders - Pom ib Plias & Pus Yoj Kuv - These song just had a funky feel to it. It brings me back to those night parties in the 90's with the disco lights in the background, women in shoulder padded blazers, and silly dances! I also like The Sounders in general. The first song I heard was from Lub Paj Rose and I was hooked, especially the rapping part! If I can recall, I think my sister even danced to it!

3. Maim Lis - I danced to this song in the student organization, SAO, during my undergraduate at UW-Whitewater. That song is really sweet! The girl's asking if she's dreaming or not as she sees him. He confirms that it's real life and it's finally their fate to be together and if there was anyone else in her heart. She said that she never desired anyone else other than him ever since he left, dreaming and waiting for him only, waiting to see if there will ever be a chance to be with him. He said that she's still the same person and to die in his chest, he won't let her get away and will love her forever :D!

4. Destiny - I fell in love with their music when it was featured in Friends, which starred Won Bin! I didn't blog as much today. I blog best when I'm in my room.

Monday, November 17, 2014

What's your take on English Language Leaners (ELL)?

English Language Leaners (ELL) was also known as English as a Second Language.

From working as the ELL aid and what I've heard in my personal life, I've received mixed reviews about ELL. Some students don't like the program because they feel they are seen as incompetent with their peers, and that leads them to exit from the program. Students who have excited are often not very independent in their academics. One student has often complained that he has been "kept" in the program all because of a test, ACCESS. One student I worked with was very independent, but was restricted from other courses due to her ACCESS level. Sure, her ACCESS score shows her writing and thinking on demand, but it didn't show her determination, motivation, and ability to absorb new information. At her junior conference, I told her to take an AP course her senior year.

When it comes to education, language can be a factor, but if one is willing to put in the heart and patience to learn, why stop them? Sometimes, I feel like classes should be organized by that. I've seen great amazing students excel, but they're not pushed by anyone else, so they stay on the mainstream track.

Two students were also dissatisfied about the tests, that it should be inclusive. Just because one's native language is English, doesn't make them proficient, which is the issue for Hmong people that I see now. Some native English speakers might not even test out, and this could be a great way to integrate learning, and remove any stereotypes that all minorities only have problems with ELL

Based on the article, the testing process is redundant. A lot of students hate tests to begin with, and students who are ELL has to take additional ones; who'd want that label? The mother's defense that she didn't want her daughter to miss out on learning opportunities was the same reason one my sister dislike ELL. My sister felt that she missed other and higher opportunities due to her ELL identification.

As an ELL assistant, I've seen the common English grammars and mistakes, and part of me believe the need for it. However, the structure needs work. It really depends on how each school instructs their ELL course. For some, it's just a studyhall. For others, it's structured lessons. The development of any student who are ELL doesn't rely ONLY on the ELL teacher, it relies on all the teachers they interact with. Too many times, it's only the ELL teacher that does their part to help the student grow. The problem is not the ELL program or teacher, it is anyone in the school that does not interact with the student on their end. If a science teacher simply encouraged their student, maybe the student might speak up more in class, lead to confidence, which would lead them to so many other opportunities :D

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Just 2 minute of your time

This is not a spam

This is all I want for Christmas! Register to find out your credit score. No, you don't need to provide a credit card either. Each month I get 6 ppl to sign up, I'll get a free giftcard to amazon. And you can also earn it too if you repost your own link.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Mother’s job at Goodwill

Every time I write about my mother, just imagine my heart in a thousand pieces.
One of my mother’s first job in the US when we arrived in 1993 was at Goodwill. Something that is so amazing about many Hmong parents is their dedication to a job. Many people (me included) tend to stay at an entry level job for about 1-2 years and quit to the next part, but that’s unlikely for Hmong parents. Many of them are very committed to one job for a long time. For my mom, it has been 15+ years at her current employer. When we lived in Wisconsin Rapids, she commuted to work that was over an hour away. At that time, gas was a little cheaper and Bill Clinton was president, which my mother said was the best living conditions. My mother is just so amazing. She knew that we were little and worked the morning shift to be done with work by 2pm, so she could prepare food for us when we got out of school around 3pm. She always had donuts and food waiting for us at home. We didn’t have a lot, but we had each other.
Anyways, sorry it took me a while to get to the story, but I had to build the story for you. At Goodwill, she was usually on the main floor organizing things. One day, she was asked to go help sort things in the backroom. She didn’t understood any English then, so the supervisor pointed to a door. She was so confused and scared, she thought, what will they do to me behind those doors? What if something happens to me and no one ever finds out? If I don’t do what they ask, then they will fire me…What will my children eat? How will they have a roof over their head? (Ok, maybe the last part was a little dramatic, but I’m jux saiyan) She gathered herself together and headed to the backroom. She was relieved once she saw other workers and it wasn’t what she imagined.
Reflecting now, maybe my mom had an episode of PTSD; she was a child victim of war after all. I’m trying to imagine what her thoughts were at that age. I will never know what it feels like to watch over my shoulder, not know what’s going to happen, and fear for my life every day. Many of us are so fortunate to not feel that way. I don’t have to watch over my shoulders at all. I always know what’s going to happen; control freak-ish (not the psycho kind, just the calm kind). And I live a fearless life, for the most part. We are all so fortunate to do whatever our hearts desire because our parents made sacrifices for us and made us their priority.

Ok. I am going to go cry a river now :’(.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

4 Lessons From Guitar

4 (metaphor and literal) lessons I learned from learning how to play the guitar
Well, obviously I learned to pluck the other day, and now I have life figured out! I’m kidding, of course.
From learning the guitar, I learned about how I learned the best and a few things about life.
1. Take IMPOSSIBLE out of your dictionary
I was always so envious of people who could play an instrument. For the longest time, I thought it was impossible for me to ever learn that. But of course, impossible isn’t in my dictionary. It reallyisn’t… Like how I thought I would never learn how to play ping pong (pong video) or finish my college papers (which lead to my b.a) or learn how to drive (and buy a car) or ever get a bf! Wait, that one’s true.
In life, we have to make the impossible possible! There is nothing that we really can’t do if we put our heart and soul into it, and no I don’t mean fulfilling your dream of being the next NFL star for we Hmong people…but wasn’t that this first lesson? Ok sure, if that’s your dream, go after it. I’M JUX SAIYAN, more like Nelson Mandela saying— "It always seems impossible until its done."
2.Stop being bad at things and start mastering them When I started the guitar, it was just strumming whatever I wanted and imitating cool guitar players like Coldplay. Then one day (which was almost every day), I told myself I was tire of it. It was time to master the art of guitar and to get this off my bucket list (too much buzzfeed and blogs for me!). (I knew people who played and they were soo cool “and I wanted to be like the cool kids.”) I started to play around with the guitar in August 2014; it’s now the middle of November. In just two months, I have made time to learn a few notes (and a lot about life) and just started plucking recently. I’m not at the highest point of my guitar career (LOL) yet, but I am making progress, which leads to #3.
3. One step at a time.
Seriously, when I started this, I wanted to jam like Jack Johnson, but we’re not all savants like him. I YouTubed the easiest songs to play. Within those songs, were only three chords. I told myself that if I could just learn at least three, I would be happy and put an end to my guitar career. The thing about learning the guitar was that I didn’t have to “MAKE” time for it. It just kind of happened.
Like on a day where I’m supposed to do laundry, I’ll avoid it by playing the guitar. OR on a day I’m supposed to be coding. OR avoiding chores.
I started with a few easy chords, then strumming, and lyrics. Once I had my foundation set, I was ready to explore other chords simply by just thinking of what songs I want to learn. Learning a new song sometimes had new notes. This would then lead me to google the image of how to hold the note. Over time, I began to memorize them because I was so tire of googling them every time.
4. Don’t give up on yourself, which really is BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
The reason why I never started this (and other things in life), was because I already gave up on myself, which is why there’s a #5. (fool ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya)
5.You just have to try (Colbie Collie – try)
I can’t stress that enough. We live life where we don’t try and give up too easily.
Like that time when my mom told me to make the rice…Hmong style. Or do pandau (but I really do know how :P) I’ll never finish this paper I’ll never get my master
Or start this youtube thaang :P! Just because I’m saying this doesn’t mean I’m neither a guitar legend nor have life figured out. It’s just my short summary of life and what I do to keep swimming, as Dory would say. So go out there and master life! About 5 minutes long

Friday, November 7, 2014

Blank Space

omg. accidentally deleted this entry. not happy. grrr!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

4,000 Tumblr Posts!

Click here to see me celebrate :P!
I reached 4,000 tumblr posts! Whoa! That is pretty wicked cool! I have about 2 minutes left in the lab before I pack up. I spent a good productive 3 hours today, but I'm still behind :(

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


There's about 15 minutes left in the library, so I'll rush all my thoughts together.

I got a call today for another interview. I applied for this position way back in September, two months ago, and they called today. I told myself "no" right away and that I needed to just work on what I have at the moment.

Then after talking to a friend, he added more pros and cons to the potential. The best selling one was that I could work on my master. Next you know, I decided to start looking into a program in that area. That really sold me the idea to relocate.

Then I looked into the financial parts of it. It made sense. I'd still make and save more even if I paid $700+ in rent. This then lead to the climax of this note, budgeting. It made me reflect on my mom. She is such an amazing woman, with no education, making ends meet at less than $11/hr to keep our $120k+ roof. I am so ashamed of myself and my lack of success. It does not compare to the hardships she's gone through just to keep me alive :'(. Sometimes, I (we) are so ungrateful for the people in our lives. That's something that a lot of American born Hmong children are in these days. They think high school is enough. Come on, your only job is to go to school, and you can't do that? Even I'm pointing that question at myself. Seriously, I need to get this master degree. I looked at my mother's salary and I'm just so amazed at what she has done, and continues to do for the people she love. I seriously get extremely emotional when I talk about her. Nothing can ever measure the pain and struggles she endured. It's emotional because she deserves so much more.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Just wondering

What are you doing? What have you been up to? Who are you with? Why did you leave? Will I ever see you again? Why did we stop? Do you remember me? Do you remember us?

Those questions run through my head when I listen to this song. And for me, the answer was always you.

Wow, just a lot of scripts jumping out of my head.

...then I got distracted.

Lots of things happening. I accepted another job! I am so crazy. So now, I'm not sure if I have time to work on my stuff...I just have to make it happen. It'll happen, on the weekends. I have to make it happen.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

I could walk out, but I won't

This song breaks my heart all the time. It's a song where you're stuck, you're trying, you're waiting, you're wondering, you want it soo bad, and it just won't happen. The worse part is that you can't do anything about; it's out of your control. All you can do is be in pain and ache, because you can walk out, but you won't. I hate it when we do that to ourselves. It's so clear that it won't work, but we hold on to that short string of hope, because in our mind, there is a we. When in reality, there isn't. And even if it ever does, it's not even right.

 I could walk out, but I won’t,
In my mind I am in your arms.
I wish someone would take my place,
Can’t face heaven all heavenfaced.
No one’s careful all the time,
If you lose me, I’m gonna die.

How completely high was I?
I was off by a thousand miles.
Hit the ceiling, then you fall,
Things are tougher than we are.
I could walk out, but I won’t,
In my mind I am in your arms.
I wish someone would take my place,
Can’t face heaven all heavenfaced.

Let’s go wait out in the fields with the ones we love.
Let’s go wait out in the fields with the ones we love.
Let’s go wait out in the fields with the ones we love.
Let’s go wait out in the fields with the ones we love.

She’s a griever, my believer
It’s not a fever, it’s a freezer
I believe her, I`m a griever now
She’s a griever, my believer
It’s not a fever, it’s a freezer
I believe her, I`m a griever now

Because we’ll all arrive in heaven alive
We’ll all arrive
Because we’ll all arrive in heaven alive
We’ll all arrive