Udele Xiong is a second generation Hmong American, who was born and raised in Minnesota. Her passion is to fight for equal opportunities for everybody with a specific interest in youth development and education. She cares about promoting positive self esteem and helping people connect with others. She graduated from St. Olaf College in 2016, where she was the Co-Chair of the Hmong Culture Outreach. She was also involved in the Badminton Club and TRiO mentoring. Currently, she is working as a Right Track Youth Jobs Core Program Liaison in the Twin Cities.
“I do think there are advantages, I think one of the advantages is…your family. You can have a very supportive family that will push you to go far, but at the same time it can also be bad, because then the ideas of family are so strong in the Hmong tradition and culture that it can also hold you back, because I know that I’ve heard of a lot of Hmong on this. I’ve heard about my friends who stop going to college or something like that, or that they don’t feel like going to college so they don’t let their family down, so it’s a double edged sword”
“My parents made it with limited English. They had a social worker to help them. My father was placed with cousins and traveled to Minnesota. My mother’s family passed away while only her sisters lived. She had family in refugee camps who helped her find a sponsor”
“Not having much help growing up, and finding out Hmong people are at a disadvantage. Since they don’t know much on education they simply go, because they were told and don’t succeed. They don’t know what tracks to follow or what to do. Although they have programs like college possible, no one is telling them how the real world is actually like. As a result, they don’t advocate for himself, because they find out late. They don’t know that most jobs are based on connections, the Hmong students aren’t knowledgeable about the system, and results in time wasting”
“It depends who I’m talking to, I identify different ways. I’m Hmong to myself, but on a piece of paper I’m Hmong American. Actually I’m Hmong American, because I grew up in both cultures, I can see the difference in Hmong people straight from Laos”
“A difficult time in my life was when their was a divorce. A lot of pressure was placed on my mom, because my dad got another wife. Normally, the wife is supposed to stick it out and deal with it, because the man is the main source of protection. My mother decided not to remarriage, and as a result got separated from community members, because she looked bad as a result”