Birth Place: Ban Vinai, Thailand
Current Residence: Wausau, WI
After celebrating at the Hmoodle Winter Ball we set out to find the perfect girl for March’s Hmoodle Girl and I believe we have done just that. Choua Khang is the ultimate package. Beauty, brains, drive, determination and everything else you’d want find in a person. Plus, she is a sweetheart. The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater may see an increase in enrollment next semester.
I felt like a very lucky to be the one chosen to interview the gorgeous Choua Khang. She had a lot to say, but in a good way. She gives you, the readers a great chance to get to know who she really is.
Hmoodle: I’m here with the newest Hmoodle Girl, Miss Choua Khang. Let me be the first to congratulate you.
Choua: Thank you! I am glad to be on board.
Hmoodle: Why don’t you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Choua: I was born in the refugee camp, Ban Vinai, Thailand. My family came to the United States in 1993. Some of my friends call me by “CK” because I am part Superman. I am proud to be an independent woman. I’ll get a partner the day I’m tired of carrying my laundry basket. Here’s a fun fact, I love quotes. Whether it’s conversations from “The Notebook” or an inspirational speech by Oprah, I like to to remember good words. I can eat, so take me out for sushi!
Hmoodle: Over in the Twin Cities, we were finally hit with a pretty large amount of snow, that makes me wonder, are you a winter person? If so, what do you do to keep busy during the season?
Choua: I am not a winter person at all, but I have survived eighteen years in the midwest. The temperature “cold” is different for me. I would have to wear a coat, while some people can survive with a fleece sweater. I also hate the process of so many winter layers. It’s too much work; I appreciate the simple shorts and t-shirts in the summer. I tried snowboarding for the first time this winter. It was painful, so I’ll stick to soccer. Moving on, I keep myself occupy with indoor soccer, work out, and activities in my home. I love watching movies with my younger siblings, nieces, and nephews. When it’s not that cold outside, we go sledding. The main reason why I stay home during winter is because I am at college eight out of twelve months in a year, and time is never enough with my family. Now that I am older, my goal is to get out of Wisconsin during the winter for at least a week with exclusive friends.
Hmoodle: What types of hobbies do you have?
Choua: I write notes on Facebook and post them at two o’clock in the morning because I am a night owl. I also enjoy conferences because they’re inspirational. If you truly pay attention you can learn things. Don’t assume I’m a boring person yet, I can be a fun and active person too. I love photography, Facebook, photoshop, soccer, ping pong, and tetris. Beyond the technology, you’ll see me at soccer tournaments with my team, Unlimited.
Hmoodle: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Choua: People would be surprised at the amount of board and card games I play, such as: speed, spade, hearts, poker, “sali,” bomb, shampoo, Taboo, Scattergories, Catchphrase; you name it, I’ll play it! I also like to have random jobs, which explains my random personality. I think many people would be more surprised to find that I’m a bartender. I am at school five out of seven days a week, and the job serves as a break and entertainment. I find it very fun because I hear a variety of stories, it’s busy, and different. A job is a job.
Hmoodle: In your bio, you mentioned that you are attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. What are you trying to major in?
Choua: It is my junior year at UW-Whitewater. My major is Social Work with sociology and human services as the minor. I am excited for my graduation date of August 2013. With that degree, I hope to become a high school social worker. I believe teen years are very critical, so I would like to help guide teens with good life choices. Once teens make the wrong turn, it’s hard to get back on track. I want to provide for children of low income, first-generation, and minority. Sometimes their success is limited because they are in those categories, and my job is to get rid of that. I want to provide for the child that wants to play sports but doesn’t have money for the fees or gear. I want children to attend conferences, so they can dream bigger. I want to help children be prepared for college or the work force. This passion is very personal for me because I felt my school didn’t invest as much time in me. I don’t want any else to go through that. I would also like to work with the community. I was a member of the Boys & Girls Club since fourth grade, and they have made a tremendous impact in my life. They were the foundation of all the skills I know now. I learned how to play flag football, ping pong, and be a leader because of the Boys & Girls Club. The first time I ever went to the Mall of America was with them. There was also “Teen Cuisine,” where I learned how to make easy snacks. They provided a safe place for me to grow and learn. I am excited to give back to them. With my degree and personal experience, I hope I will have the skills it takes to make a difference.
Hmoodle: I’ve also had great experiences with the Boys and Girls Club and I highly recommend that others support the organization because of what they do. I noticed you’re quite the scholar. Tell us about your achievements and what other future scholastic awards you’d like to receive.
Choua: Thank you for the compliment. I manage and I always try because Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” In high school, I competed in National History Day (NHD) in the website and documentary categories. Unfortunately, I placed second at the state level both times. I also competed through FBLA and DECA. All those experiences have made me a competitive person. You don’t have to be “smart” to do well in college or anywhere. You just have to manage, and that’s what I’ve done. If I have to work on an eight-page paper, I’ll start early. If that paper requires extra research and proper citation, I’ll start earlier. However, if it’s a response, I can get it done the night before. Currently, I am a McNair Scholar at UW-Whitewater, where the mission “prepares first-generation and multicultural students for doctoral study and eventually careers as college professors.” That program has taken me to places I could have never afford and made me dream beyond my imaginations. I never considered college; my mother forced me (thank you, Mother). Being a McNair Scholar, I know for sure that graduate school is possible and have already considered getting the doctorate degree. The program is a available nationwide, so please look for it in your area and ask about it. We need more Hmong scholars and professionals. If we invest in education, we can decrease the numbers of people in jail, so more funds will go toward better education than building new jails.
Hmoodle: I definitely have much respect for what you do and what you’ve accomplished. Moving on, I also read that you are really into civil rights not just here, but around the world. Why is this topic important to you?
Choua: Martin Luther King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Just because an issue doesn’t directly impact you, doesn’t mean the issue won’t get to you. We’ve seen injustice in the Holocaust, India, and Civil Rights. As each incident happened, we learn how to respond to it to prevent history from repeating. It is not always a successful attempt, but effort is what counts. I was able to learn more about the Civil Rights movement through a spring break trip with other UW-Whitewater students. We visited cites such as Southern Poverty Law Center, Dr. King’s Parsonage, Edmund Pettus Bridge; National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Historical Morehouse & Spelman College (HBCU), National Civil Rights Museum; and people such as Ms. Sherry, Reverend Robert Graetz, and Joanne Bland. In one week, we traveled to five cities and states, met amazing activists, and got a whole new perspective about the Civil Rights. As a result, the trip inspired me to learn more and teach about the Hmong. Part of the requirement for the trip as a university credit course, we had to create a digital story. Feel free to see mine here:
Hmoodle: You also mentioned that you’d like to be able to document people’s life stories. Does that mean you would like to be an author, or how would you go about it?
Choua: Through my experience of creating documentaries for projects, I realized I wanted that skill to expand. My ultimate dream job would be to document people’s life stories of struggles and success. I believe everyone has a great story to tell, especially our parents, regardless of our race or ethnicity. What is a better way to tell a story than the person him/her self? I would like to focus on Hmong because our history, language, and culture is slowly fading. How many Hmong children have Hmong names these days? How many toddlers can speak Hmong? How many adults between the ages of 16-21 can speak fluent Hmong? Those questions are my motivation to find a way to preserve the Hmong. I am working on this with my involvement in Hmong Heritage Month, which is a committee under the Wausau Area Hmong Mutual Association. Our mission is, “To celebrate Hmong heritage in Central Wisconsin by reflecting on the history, preserving the present, and shaping our future.” On Saturday March 3, 2012, we will be having our biggest event call The Amazing Race. If time permits you to support us through competing in the race, please show up at 11am on Saturday with your game face. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com for more details.
Hmoodle: What types of traveling have you done as pertain to your scholastic studies and what future trips do you have planned?
Choua: I love to travel. May 2011, I went to China for a 3-week travel study and absolutely loved it. It was my first time out of the country. The food, culture, people, and everything was amazing. We spent one week with Chinese students who spoke English at Hebei University, a college in China. I played ping pong with one of the girls there and she didn’t even hesitate. I have a long way to go before I can master the sport. I also saw the dorms they lived in, and it is not close to US dorm conditions. Their bed mattress was just a little over an inch thick. They don’t have a fridge to keep their food healhty. While we stuff our closets with tons of clothes, they have just a basket. Overall, it was such a wonderful experience because it was no longer something I saw in the movies. At the end of March 2012, I will be in Ogden, Utah to present my research that I conducted through the McNair Scholars program last summer. This May, I will be going to Vietnam and Cambodia for another travel study. I’m excited to see the rice fields, ride bikes through the villages, and see elephants. I am also excited to live in a place with not many resources. Yes, I will test out the pho on the streets over there. After that, I will do my Phase 2 Summer Research Internship for McNair either in California, Maryland, or Michigan. I’ve been trying to find one in Minnesota because I get homesick, but no luck so far. I’ve got the next 1.5 years planned but I’ll stop here. I encourage everyone to leave their home at least once in their life because “The adventure is out there,” said Russle from Up.
Hmoodle: You seem like a very driven person. Where do you think you got that from?
Choua: My drive for success is from my family. My mother has always worked hard her entirely life. She never missed a day of work without a legitimate reason, or was she ever late. In fact, she heads to work an hour early. My father is a philosopher. He taught me to always challenge or confirm the information I get. It was, and probably still is, common in Hmong families that sons receive more love and attention from the parents. However, that is not practiced in my family. Both my parents raised seven girls and three boys equally. As the the fifth daughter, my older sisters has set the bar high, and it is my duty to raise it higher. My drives outside my family are my soccer team, employment, and school. Unlimited, a Hmong women soccer team in Wausau, is my drive to continue success. As one of the oldest player, I make myself accountable with the actions, behaviors, and decisions I display. I want those young girls and other Hmong girls to be more than another married teen. I want them to continue their education and challenge them selves with how far they can go. Living in America with access to education has gave women the power to be as good aa men. In order to influence others, I have followed Ghandi’s advice, “You must be the change you wish to see.” I’m also a workaholic, “When you’re sleeping, I’m working. When you’re working, I’m working even harder.” School is the biggest influence for my drive. Without the support of my advisers and professors, I would have never believed in myself of the things I can do; the things I can change; the future I can control. Lastly, I am my own drive. Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” which goes well with Lao-Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” All it takes is YOU to take that first step.
Hmoodle: Ten years from now, where would you like to see yourself professionally?
Choua: Ten years from now, I see myself as a professor at a university. I hope to teach about the Hmong history, culture, language, and everything else I know. If we don’t teach others about who we are, who will? And who knows our self more than we do? I also see myself working on various documentary projects on the side. I will aim for Confucius’s theory about work, “Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.” I hope to be on the Amazing Race show on CBS by that time.
Hmoodle: That would be awesome to see you on Amazing Race. Hopefully by then you have found someone to carry your laundry basket to be your partner. On that note, lets end our interview here. Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Choua: I would like to thank Hmoodle again for giving me this opportunity to show a different route for Hmong females. I would also like to acknowledge support from my family, soccer team, school, and friends. I will continue to work hard for all of you. As for the readers, do what you love because love never runs out. When times are hard, be positive because everything happens for a reason. Life has a way of working out without our control, so just be patient. “Good things come to those who wait.” Please continue to support Hmoodle, “fighting.”
Once again I would like to thank Choua for being apart of Hmoodle and congratulate her on being selected as our newest Hmoodle Girl. She is a girl that I know will succeed and make an impact on the lives she comes across. We at Hmoodle are honored to have her apart of the Hmoodle family.