What is the Unforgotten Project?
It is a project that strives to capture the unforgotten stories of Hmong veterans by pairing a participant with a Secret Guerrilla Unit (SGU) veteran and teaching them technical skills to capture their stories in video form.
This week’s feature Unforgotten Project participant is Bao Moua. Bao is a Hmong-American woman born in St. Paul, MN. She has resided in the Twin Cities area for her entire life. Her parents and grandparents also escaped the Vietnam War in Laos and to this day resides in St. Paul, MN.
Why did you participate in the Unforgotten Project?
I learned about this project from following Hmong Museum on Facebook and I am also acquainted with Mai Vang, founder of Hmong Museum. I was interested in learning how to record and edit videos as a new skill and I saw this as an opportunity to do that. I was also interested in learning about the history of the Vietnam War and the experiences of our Hmong families that lead them to become displaced from their home country especially from the veteran’s perspective.
What new skills did you learn from this experience?
I joined this project without having any prior experience relating to the project. I learned how to use the camera and lighting equipment to be able to record the video, interview strategies to be able to capture a story line, and how to use Adobe Premiere Pro to edit the videos.
What about Hmong history did you learn that you already didn’t know before?
One thing that took me by surprise was when the Veteran was interviewed during registration to immigrate to the United States, he was asked specific questions that only the soldiers of the Secret Guerrilla Unit would know the answer to. This was to distinguish the true veterans from the crowd. When he answered the secret questions, he passed immediately and was among the first wave of Hmong families to come to the United States.
How has this experience change your perception?
This experience has changed my perception in many ways. It makes me want to make more time to talk to the elders and capture their stories. Through this experience, I thought about my grandfather, who’s ill now, and his story. I’ve also made it an effort to talk with other elders in my family, like my father, uncle and my father-in-law, and learn about their story and how they came to the United States or their life back in the days.
What would you like others to know about Hmong history based on this experience?
There’s not a lot of Hmong history that is put out there for people to learn about. Not much is recorded in videos or books. I highly encourage our youth to talk more to our elders and ask questions. Be curious and learn more about our history and origins. Many of our stories and culture are unheard and we can be the medium to capture those stories and deliver them to others across to the world.
The “Unforgotten” project was designed to pair students and young professionals with Hmong Veterans from the Special Guerrilla Unit, to document their untold war stories.