Meet Koobmeej Lee, Hmong Museum’s newest board member. We asked Koobmeej to share a little bit about himself.
What are 3 things Hmong Museum friends, family & supporters should know about you?
- I started out as a volunteer with Hmong Museum. My initial goal was just to meet other Hmong professionals and Hmong Museum seemed like a great place to do that.
- I work at a Hmong charter school. It has been great to see Hmong kids these days embrace their culture and heritage. That was not the same when I was growing up. There was not much appreciation for Hmong culture or language because at that time the priority was to succeed in the American school systems. This pushed many of my peers to disregards Hmong Culture and language completely, some even to the point of detesting it. So I am grateful that there is a place to help teach students to appreciate who they are and where they came from.
- From time-to-time I am a Hmong interpreter. As appose to children, I work mostly with adults in this role. I have learned so much through the small talk before and between appointments with my clients. I hear heartbreaking stories of how Hmong veterans, leaders, professionals, and perfectly able people back in Laos become helpless in America. Not even being able to buy food, or get medicine for their child without major setbacks. It made me realized the struggles of my parent’s generation and appreciate their sacrifice so that I can live a better life, free from war. I am very thankful for all of them.
Why is Hmong Museum’s mission and goals important to you?
The Hmong people don’t have a country to go back to. We don’t have a place created by us to teach about us. The Hmong culture has changed so much already in the last 40 years in America. When we take into account how much has changed globally, the Hmong culture may be changing a 1000 times over and so it becomes more important than ever, that we have a place to record, show, and teach about this.
What are you working on with Hmong Museum?
Hmong Museum is engaging with Hmong elders in partnership with community artists and The Minnesota Museum of American Art to share traditional Hmong art technique. One of the goals is to make this art and the technique accessible. In addition, we want to give opportunities for Hmong elders to create and teach their craft. An added benefit of this program is that elders feel that they still do have a place in our every changing Hmong-American society. The artwork will be on showcase around the Twin Cities. I’m really excited about this, and would encourage everyone to come and support the elders artworks and crafts when it comes out. This project is made possible by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board Arts Access.