Monthly Archives: July 2011

Hmong Cultural and Language Program at Concordia University


Imagine an opportunity to explore language, crafts, music, dance, sports, cultural activities, gardening, nutrition, and science—all while experiencing life on a university campus.  This happens each summer for over 400 children and youth from 20 language groups who work and play together learning vocabulary from each other’s cultures during Hmong Culture and Language Program(HCLP), hosted at Concordia University in Saint Paul.

“The mission of HCLP is to preserve the Hmong culture through storytelling, gardening and the arts” explains Sally Baas, director of HCLP and the Southeast Asian Teacher (SEAT) Program at Concordia. “This program grew out of needs in the Hmong community and has grown to meet needs for our university students for pre-service teaching and cross-cultural experiences.”

Key Yang is a current Concordia University student in the SEAT Program who is very active with the camp, both running student registration and other administrative tasks and working as an instructor in Hmong literacy.  Key says:

Working for the HCLP definitely taught me a lot of things about the role of a teacher and what they have to do in order to prepare for the arrival of students whether writing lesson plan, organizing material or keeping track of students’ record. The best thing about the program is that I can put what I have learned throughout the school year into practice. For instance, I have learned about different teaching strategies and ways of assessing student from various backgrounds but didn’t really have the chance to put it into practice and have always wanted to try it out since most of my experiences within the classroom are mainly from observation. During the program, I have the opportunity to take charge and put what I have learned into practice with guidance from experienced colleagues who have taught for many years and understand the role of teacher better.

Chao Vang, a teacher and parent who has been involved with the HCLP since it started in 2004, comments:

As a teacher, my experience at this program has been to develop activities and to bridge the old (Hmong traditions and culture) as well as the new (modern American culture) cultures together for the students who are trying to figure out their identities. The identity of a person is like the root of a tree, without the root, a tree cannot grow. As a parent, I know that my children needed the opportunity to find that root with other children like them. I have two children who have gone through the program as clan leaders and two younger ones who are current students.   Concordia University has provided the place and resources for my children to have that experience and for me to be a part of something big. The program started out small, but it grew very quickly, serving students ranging from 30 students to nearly 1000 students in a span of three years.  This program offered a place of belonging and increased the knowledge of self-identity as well as obtaining the competence of a very complex society. Therefore, I am happy that my children and I are a part of this program.

For more information, contact Sally Baas,

Student Profile: Sarah Gibson, William Mitchell College of Law

I am working with World Without Genocide, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about current situations of mass violence and human rights offenses, and how to take action against them. I have been in a unique position to see change occur – inspired by thought-provoking programming and “hands-on” events.

Early this spring, World Without Genocide implemented the first Red Hand Day event at William Mitchell College of Law.  Currently, there are more than 300,000 child soldiers involved in at least 30 conflicts around the world.  Red Hand Day commemorates the UN’s ban on the use of child soldiers and encourages people to help protect children from this horrific practice.  The program is simple but striking.  People are asked to coat their hands in red paint and then apply them to paper.  The red hand dramatically signifies ‘stop’ while it demonstrates support for banning the use of child soldiers.  The handprints are collected and sent to members of the UN to as a reminder that people who employ children as soldiers must be held accountable.

At Mitchell, we set up tables in the middle of campus and over a hundred students and staff stopped by to make handprints – but more importantly, to learn about this human rights abuse.  In conjunction, World Without Genocide hosted a lecture on child soldiers in global conflicts.  Movingly, all of the attendees at the lecture came forward to create handprints, including a little boy who was there with his parents.  Since 2002, 350,000 red handprints have been collected worldwide as part of this initiative.

Awareness is an important first step.  But, the perpetrators of child soldiery must be brought to justice to bring the practice to an end.  As part of my work, I am focusing on the International Criminal Court and its response to crimes like this around the world.  Currently, the ICC is prosecuting Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the leader of a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for enlisting and conscripting children to be used as armed soldiers in an uprising against the government of that country.
By raising awareness of the problems of child soldiers, and how the ICC can help end the impunity, World is helping people in Minnesota find a voice to demand change.   Every hand (print) can make a difference!

World Without Genocide promotes the Red Hand Program widely.  For more information on how to set up a program at your location, visit  For more information on World Without Genocide, as well as ways to get involved, please go to

 Sarah Gibson is currently a rising 2L at William Mitchell College of Law (Class of 2013).  She is from Rochester, Minnesota and attended Macalester College (Class of 2007) in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she double-majored in History and International Studies.  Between college and law school, she was working in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Simpson Housing Services: Normandale Community College’s Presidents’ Community Partner Award Recipient

Normandale Community College would like to recognize Simpson Housing Services for the Presidents’ Community Partner Award based on the long time, successful and positive partnership between our organizations.  The mission of Simpson Housing Services is “to house, support and advocate for people experiencing homelessness.” Simpson provides a multitude of services to adults and families experiencing homelessness from hunger and financial planning to assisting people with the process of obtaining permanent housing.  In 2000, Normandale Community College students began serving as overnight volunteers in the men’s shelter. The men’s shelter provides 48 men a bed for 28 days. Staff from Simpson provide their expertise to Normandale through educational programs, presentations and by serving on committees. This organization has helped students by providing opportunities and education that will prepare them for success in the workforce. Since 2005, 286 students have served 11,732 hours of service with Simpson. That averages one Normandale student volunteer in every other night for the last five years. We would like to thank Simpson Housing Services for such an amazing and impactful partnership!

Jahan Powell: Metropolitan State University’s Presidents’ Student Leadership Award Recipient

Jahan Powell well deserves to be recognized for his role as the student coordinator for Metro State Votes 2010.  This initiative included a comprehensive set of activities and programs that informed, engaged, and involved students and the community in civic action.  Program events and activities included: a mock polling place with Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, roundtable conversations with state executive office candidates including State Auditor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General and in collaboration with the League of Women Voters, a gubernatorial debate.


Under Jahan’s leadership, an ongoing voter registration initiative actively and successfully registered students, staff, faculty, and community members in classes and at events. All eligible voters signed a pledge to vote on a large banner displayed in the skyway which was documented in the Pioneer Press and picked up across the country.  Mr. Powell worked effortlessly making sure that Metropolitan State’s commitment to civic engagement strengthened our ties to the communities we live in by encouraging our right to vote!


Civic Engagement is a cornerstone of Metropolitan State University, and Metro State Votes 2010 increased awareness about local and regional issues providing opportunities for students and community members to become involved in civic activities.

SMU Student-Athletes: Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota’s Presidents’ Student Leadership Award Recipient

Community service has become a hallmark of Saint Mary’s University (SMU) athletics, garnering national recognition in recent years.  Amy Kujak, a member of the Women’s Volleyball team and the Cardinal Athletic Council, represents all of the Saint Mary’s University Student-Athletes for the purpose of this award.

In 2007, the Cardinal Athletic Council (CAC) organized efforts to assist the flood ravaged communities around Winona.  The CAC coordinated efforts of 200 student-athletes and 100 other students to assist flood victims with clean-up.  These efforts led to the nation’s top community service award for NCAA Division III athletic departments – The Josten’s Community Service Award.  In 2008-09, student-athletes culminated a year of volunteering with a spring event – the CAC Play for Shay Day, inviting children from local communities to the SMU campus for an afternoon of sporting activities, and hosting a silent auction.  All proceeds were donated to a family with a child battling cancer.

Student-athletes again received the Josten’s Community Service Award – Honorable Mention, for a variety of activities during 2009-10, including raising money for cancer research, volunteering with elementary children, and collecting and donating food and Christmas gifts.  Approximately 300 student-athletes volunteered over 2000 hours, raising $5000 for charitable and community service causes.  Efforts in 2010-11 have included several events related to cancer awareness, painting classrooms at area schools, and food drives.