An Everyday Conversation with a Hmong

By Sai Vang

 

Monday

Kathy: Hi, nice to meet you! Sai: Nice to meet you too.

Kathy: What‘s your name?

Sai: I‘m Sai.

Kathy: Oh, what are you?

Sai: I‘m Hmong.

Kathy: ……….Mongolian?

Sai:…..Ummm…No…

Kathy: Oh, what is it then?

Sai: We‘re an ethnicity group from South East Asia.

Kathy: Oh, from what country?

Sai: We don‘t have a country.

Kathy: Oh…

Tuesday

Susan: Hi everyone. Welcome. Let‘s go around and introduce yourself along with your birth place. I‘ll go first. My name is Susan and I‘m from LA.

Michael: Hi, I‘m Michael and I was born in Texas.

Xin: Hi my name is Xin but call me Cindy and I was born in China.

Sai: Hi, I‘m Sai and I was born in Thailand.

Susan: Oh, you‘re Thai.

Sai:…Um..not quite.

Michael: What do you mean?

Sai: I‘m actually Hmong.

Susan: Mong? You mean Mongo?

Sai: No, just Hmong.

Michael: How do you spell it?

Sai: H-M-O-N-G.

Susan: What country is that from?

Sai: Um……We don‘t have a country.

Michael and Susan: Huh?

Sai: We‘re a group of people from South East Asia but we don‘t have a place to call ours. We‘re from all over the place.

Wednesday

Ellen: Hi, my name is Ellen. Nice to meet you.

Sai: Hi, I‘m Sai, nice to meet you too.

Ellen: Oh, where are you from?

Sai: I‘m from Stockton, California.

Ellen: I mean, from what country?

Sai: Oh, I was born in Thailand.

Ellen: Really? Sawadeeka? Did I get it right?

Sai: Yes, but I‘m not Thai.

Ellen: Oh, then what are you?

Sai: I‘m Hmong.

Ellen: What‘s that?

Sai: A group of people in South East Asia.

Ellen: What country is it?

Sai: We don‘t have a country.

Ellen: What? How is that possible?

Sai: We just don‘t have a place to call Hmongland. But we‘re from everywhere around South East Asia and the world.

Thursday

Sai: Hi, my name is Sai. I was born in Thailand but I‘m Hmong.

Daniel: Nice to meet you Sai, I‘m Daniel. So what is Hmong?

Sai: Oh, we‘re an ethnicity group from South East Asia.

Daniel: How do you spell it?

Sai: H-M-O-N-G.

Daniel: Hamong?

Sai: Actually, the H is silent, so you pronounce it without the H.

Friday

Renee: Hi, Sai, I heard that you‘re Hmong.

Sai: Yes, I am.

Renee: Can you show me on the map your home country?

Sai: Oh, you mean Thailand?

Renee: No, I mean the Hmong country because I can‘t find it.

Sai: Umm, well Hmong people don‘t have a country so you won‘t be able to find it.

Renee: What?! Then where did you come from?

Sai: Well, there are lots of stories about our origins from the elders, but we don‘t have facts to prove exactly where we‘re from. Somepeople said we came from Mongolia and traveled to China then. Laos. During the Vietnam War, many Hmong helped American CIA in the Secret War. But after the fall of Saigon in 1975, Americans left the Hmong behind and many of them were prosecuted by the Vietcong. A lot of Hmong fled Laos and went to Thailand to take refuge in refugee camps. And there was where I was born, in a refugee camp in Thailand.

Renee: Wow, what a history.

Sai: Thanks.

Saturday

Landlord: Hey Sai, you were born in Thailand right?

Sai: Yes. Landlord: I‘m on the phone with a Thai girl and she wants to rent a room here but she doesn‘t speak English that well. Do you think you can talk to her and translate it for me?

Sai: Sorry, I was born in Thailand but I‘m not Thai. I can‘t speak the language at all.

Sunday

Jessica: Hi Sai, I was wondering, since you‘re Hmong, what language do you guys speak? Chinese? Thai? Lao?

Sai: We speak Hmong. Jessica: What?

Sai: Hmong, we have our own language.

Jessica: Oh, wow. So all of you guys can communication with the Hmong language?

Sai: Yes, but we also have different dialects within our language.

Jessica: Can you guys understand each other?

Sai: Yes we can. Our different dialects are similar to European English and American English. Some words are different but we can understand each other.

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Filed under 2010-2011, Prose

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