One people spent centuries in the tropical mountains of Southeast Asia, leading a traditional agrarian life rooted in animism, with its blending of the spiritual and natural worlds.
Another people spent generations building a technological civilization amid wintry forests and windswept prairies, establishing a Scandinavian-influenced culture of industriousness and Lutheran reserve.
It isn’t obvious that two such cultures were made for each other. Thus, in these times of racial tension and wariness about refugee resettlements, the story of the Hmong journey to success in Minnesota offers an encouraging example.
I come to that story as a small-town, Minnesota white boy who took a job two years ago at a Hmong-focused St. Paul charter school — Community School of Excellence (CSE). My job there: to share updates on the school’s news and activities with its families and community.
Within a few weeks, I was already in over my head — dressed in Hmong regalia crown …