Guam to California. Lesson #2: What is Hmong?

 

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Ka (in traditional Hmong outfit) and her husband, Anthony, on their Wedding Day (Oct 17, 2009.)

My first encounter with this word was when I was standing in line at my local bank in Florin Rd, cashing my very first paycheck since moving to Sacramento, California. The guy behind me gave me a sly smile and asked me if I was Hmong. Hmong? I had no clue what he meant and said, “No.”

My second encounter with the word was during training at my then new job. We were given scenarios and the word Hmong was written on the booklet. Again…I had no clue what it meant, but from the context, I gathered that it was an ethnicity or a nationality.

So I went home to my aunt and uncle’s house…and I asked them, “what is Hmong?” And they just flat out laughed at me. Some help they were. They were very unclear on describing it to me, but basically said they are short people, like myself , that moved to Sacramento from Vietnam and other places, because they didn’t have their own country.

Thankfully, a year or so later, I met Ka, who is Hmong. She worked at the same building as I did. We became fast friends and she enlightened me with her culture and her language. I asked her a few questions a few months ago, for this blog post, and these are her replies:

S: What is Hmong?

K: Hmong are a people without a country. After the Secret War ended, hundreds of thousands were accepted as refugees to America, France and Australia, just to name a few countries.

She then quoted a website called: ethonologue.org that states millions are still living in Southern China.

S: How would you describe the culture?

K: It’s a culture that cherishes family and heritage. They are a people who resist assimilation and yet are pleasant, amicable and humble.

S: Where did your ancestors come from?

K: Originally from China.

S: How would you describe the language?

K: Hmong is a macro language and have many micro languages under it. These micro languages are designated by color usually because of the color of their clothing. Hmong is a mono-syllabic language. (So interesting…isn’t it?!-Sharon)

S: How would you compare an ancient Hmong to a modern day Hmong?

K: The Hmong in America seem to have influence over the world wide Hmong populous. Through entertainment, internet and social media they connect to the rest of the Hmong around the globe and are changing the way those ones think and see the world around them. Most of those changes seem to be for the worse and not the better. Many are getting divorced, having extramarital affairs and children out of wedlock. Things which, just a few years ago, would have been unheard of. There are some parts of the world where the Hmong have not been ‘contaminated’ with this modern age, and they live quiet and humble lives; probably like the ancient Hmong.

 

I had the pleasure of attending a Hmong meeting once before…and was very lost. However, I did appreciate the enthusiasm that many learners put into the learning the language. At that time, they were studying the My book of bible stories for their Congregation Bible Study. They were limited in the books they can use since not a lot of the publications were translated in Hmong. Also, their songbook had less pages compared to our regular song book. Now, they have the Remote Translation Office for Hmong in South Sacramento, and Ka is currently one of the translators there.

How glad I am to come to know a new culture, a new person, and a new language… that shows Jehovah definitely does not discriminate nor hold back any of His blessings.

 

 

 

Remembering 9/11/2001

On that horrid day, I drove my dad’s truck to work, which was at the Guam ITC building. It was right before 12midnight. I had the radio on… and all of a sudden there was a special announcement: One of the Twin Towers in NYC was hit!  I got to the office and they had the t.v. blaring and everyone’s eyes were glued to it.  The first building was on fire and people were jumping out, and later we saw another plane crash into the second building. We couldn’t believe what we saw!

Back then, I was working as a transfer guide for Japan Travel Bureau. I was assigned for arrivals that evening/early morning. As part of the arrival crew, we were responsible for greeting the visitors and taking them to their respective hotels. However, as we got to the airport, we learned that all flights were cancelled worldwide…and weren’t sure when flights will resume. That meant, we had no job for the evening/day.

We headed back to the ITC building and clocked out. It must’ve been 2am by then. A few co-workers and I grabbed a bite to eat at the King’s restaurant in Tamuning. We were discussing the events that just took place and what we were to do. In the corner of the restaurant, we saw the Lt. Governor (back then it was Madeleine Bordallo) and a few other men in a serious conversation. Apparently, during that time, the actual Governor was off-island and she was in command. She had some heavy responsibilities.

After our breakfast and conversation, my co-workers and I parted ways and went home.

I remembered my older brother called from California and he was highly distressed. A plane was also supposed to hit San Francisco, CA. He had only been gone for nine months, but already wanted to come home. My mom and dad didn’t discourage him from doing so…and he came back to Guam. He never left again…

Where were you then and what was it like?

Planning the Perfect Ladies’ Getaway

Over the past year or so, I have been on two successful all female trips. Both were for girlfriends of mine that were about to get married! Although, I can’t take all the credit for the success, I definitely took down notes to share with you all.

  • Gather the Ladies (Usually 3-4 months before the scheduled trip). Jot down who’s going and see what everyone can contribute towards the trip. And by contribution, this can mean monetary, housing (we took advantage of our friend’s timeshare), vehicle, food, etc.
  • Have everyone share their ideas. During this time, you will see who the natural leaders are, the contributors, and who the followers will be. Also, at this point, you can either relinquish your role as leader and become a contributor, or remain a leader. The main thing is to have a collaborative group of ladies that are equally excited and happy to be on this upcoming trip.
  • Establish a forum where everyone can offer ideas, suggestions, what services they want, pricing, photos, etc. We certainly put google+ to good use. We had google hangouts, shared documents, and also had a spreadsheet of expenses on google docs. For daily communication, we utilized group texts or Voxer.
  • Set up an itinerary. A daily itinerary is good, but if you can have an hourly itinerary that is even better. For example:  7am depart San Jose for L.A./ 12noon lunch / 2pm Check In at Hotel / 7pm Dinner Reservations at the Restaurant. Having an hourly itinerary will give everyone an idea of when to get ready and what to pack and/or wear. However, when you have an hourly itinerary, make room for adjustments and don’t be overly restrictive with time. Unnecessary stress is not needed.
  • On that note, its time to make reservations (Usually 3-4 weeks ahead, or even a few months before, if the place gets really busy) at spas, salons, restaurants, hotels, etc. Any place you plan to visit with your group of girlfriends. Also, this is where credit cards will be used, so be prepared to give that info out. (This is also where that spreadsheet comes in handy for the breakdown of expenses.)

Some ideas for things to do are:

Spa Day (I highly recommend Glen Ivy in SoCal)

Mani/Pedis

Tea Parties (I highly recommend Muir Tea in Sebastopol, CA)

Wineries

  • Closer to departure date, remind every one of their responsibilities, to bring cash, and whatever they think will make the trip an enjoyable one. Also, make arrangements of where to meet and depart accordingly.
  • Bring thank you cards, if you have hosts, and enjoy your trip! Sans drama…

Guam to California. Lesson #1: Freeways

I decided to have a special feature on the blog every first Thursday of the month. This feature will be called Guam to California. I will be sharing personal experiences and lessons I’ve learned since leaving the rock (Guam.)

This month’s lesson is about freeways.

Prior to moving to California, I drove on two major roads from age 16-24. Those two roads were Marine Drive and Route 16. I always thought that the speed limit was 55mph but discovered recently that it was only 45mph. Oops! That is the fastest speed on island, legally. Majority of the roads on island have speed limits of 35mph or 15mph in residential areas.

So, when I moved to California I was excited to drive at the normal rate I was already going…(65mph +) and to be able to do that without feeling guilty.

The confusing part was finding out if I was going North, South, East, or West.

For two years, I was dependent on my GPS because of that. I only stopped using my GPS because it got stolen…but looking back, i’m kinda glad that happened because I was then forced to learn the roads and remember them.

I have a few funny stories about driving here in California. One day, I was heading to a meeting, and called my uncle because it was my very first time driving without him or anyone else, I wasn’t sure if I had to take 5 north or 5 south. He wasn’t answering and the exits were coming up quickly and so I just decided, on a whim, to take 5 south. So as I was exiting, he called back and he told me 5 north. So fortunately for me, I was still on the on-ramp, and I just continued on to the off-ramp and took the northbound freeway.  I made a complete circle. I felt like an idiot after that. Lol.

Another evening, I was driving back home and one of my girlfriends called me, to make sure I made it home safely. But, because I was still on the road, my GPS was giving me directions to exit and she heard the GPS speaking…she started laughing because I have been living in that studio for almost a year but still needed a GPS to give me directions to get home. Yup, that was me!

Another thing about freeways, are CARPOOL or HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes! They are amazing! Some carpool lanes require only two passengers, others a minimum of three. Carpool lanes are meant to encourage people to carpool so that there are less cars on the freeway and/or to buy/lease a low or zero emission vehicle. According to ca.gov:  “As of April 8, 2015, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has issued the 63,255 Green Clean Air Vehicle decals. The maximum number of decals available is 70,000.” 

I say carpool lanes are amazing because you get by through traffic much quicker than the other lanes on most days. However, most carpool lanes are in effect only during certain hours, so before or after those hours, anyone can use those lanes.

So, as you can see…I’ve garnered more roads, highways, and mileage (and some tickets..ahem!) under my belt compared to when I was 24. And because of that, I feel that driving on Guam is WAY too EASY.

Hope you got a kick out of reading about my experiences on freeways. Happy and Safe Driving!