Who I Am
by Shoua Xiong from Lincoln High School
Published in the 2007-2008 WITS Anthology I Once Was Young and Strong (Available for purchase)
Who am I? I’ll try my best to tell you
I am young and intelligent.
I have my own talents and my own language.
I am different. No two people are the same. I am unique:
We come from the tall mountains of Thailand and Laos.
“Kuv yog Hmoob.” I am Hmong (Mong).
Commanded by General Vang Pao, we fought as a secret army.
Side by side we fought bravely with the Americans
against the Vietnamese Communists.
We were promised
that if the Americans won, the Hmong would win with them. If the Americans lost,
they would be responsible for the Hmong tribes. The contract was that the Hmong
would be able to rebuild their country or immigrate to the U.S. after the war and
they’d live peacefully.
Many of us died, risking our lives for the Americans.
Risking our lives to fight beside the Americans.
Suddenly, they abandoned, ignored, betrayed us.
Leaving us back to square one
Torched by the Vietnamese Communist.
The fears and tears in our eyes.
Hiding in the jungle. Waiting for help.
Thirty years later, finally, we arrived in the United States.
Not knowing a word of English, we suffered from exclusion.
Sacrificing our culture to adapt in.
I am different.
No two people are the same. I am unique:
I am HMONG.
Oregon Book Awards Fiction and Poetry Finalists reading
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