Unforgotten: The legacy begins
Inspiring, motivating, insightful, awesome and nostalgic are just a few words used by the participants of the first showing of Unforgotten, a project hosted by Hmong Museum in partnership with Veterans of the Special Guerrilla Unit. This project seeked to help give the tools of video making to participants in order to help document untold stories of the Hmong Veterans of the secret war.
The first community event was held at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus. The small but cozy office of Asian Pacific American Resource Center, it had participants of not only students but also interested community members ready to learn and hear about these untold accomplishments of the veterans and the process of short films.
Hearing from the Film Makers
Katie Ka Vang, Xiongpao (XP) Lee and Yeng Lor (pictured above left to right) were the three panelists present to help convey their process of interviewing, compiling, and producing the veterans stories into a short film. Even for these three active community members, they still found that they were learning new information about the history of the Hmong Migration, their own families backgrounds, and within themselves.
“Not all stories are through the (Mekong) river…My vet went by taxi” – Katie
“I found that opening google maps up…you can see the streets in Laos… (this) helped engaged my father in telling his story” -XP
“Learn your history, in order to challenge it” – Yeng Lor
All three panelist had one thing to say for anyone who is interested in learning more about their own peoples history and film making. It was JUST DO IT! Just start somewhere, as they themselves did not know where or how to start. But through this project they were able to learn the tools needed to document a part of their history in an interactive way.
Take Away Message
As the time whined to an end there was one big question that lingered unanswered. How was identity of the panelist, Hmong, and Hmong American lost, found and created through this project. Each panelist answered this in their own way show casing that there is not a single correct answer to this question as identity truly came from the self. But one thing ringed true about this project and that was in order to learn, create your identity you must listen to the past, be willing to ask hard questions in the present, and have the courage to move into the future.
So, what are you waiting for?
Get out there and JUST DO IT!
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.