My People Don’t Have a Country and It’s Okay.

Living abroad where all the people are of one culture, who have an established country, and a cohesive civilization between the same borders, people often don’t understand nor even fathom, what it is like to not have a country of your own.

It’s like: always feeling like a stranger in the country you were born in.
It’s like: getting excited at the sight of a familiar skin tone when you’re in public.
It’s like: your heart breathing fresh air when you hear the same tongue at the most unexpected times–which is–most times.

My Korean colleague asked me, “So your people don’t have a country? And how do you feel about that? Are you…sad?”

No one has ever asked me that.

Because where I am from, people are more concerned about me leaving the country, than they are me comfortably having a place to call my own.

To that question, I said, “thank you. I am curious (as to what it’d be like), but I am not sad.”

I am not sad.

I am not sad that I am Hmong, and that my people do not have a country.

I am not sad that we don’t have a singular point on the map to explain where we are.

Because, I don’t at all feel like we are homeless, if anything, I believe we are homefull.

We have the ability to fill every capacity of the world, without the patriotic duty to one place.

We have the challenge and exercise of continuously finding ways to consciously hold onto our roots as we grow in new, and various soils. And to hold onto them, stronger and stronger each time.

We have the capacity, to pick the positive flowers we see from other cultures, and add it to our own garden to cultivate even more possibilities.

We have the resiliency and knowledge, that we will always be okay, no matter how many times exterminated or stomped on. Because we need no border, to show and prove who we are.

Our culture, traditions, and livelihood are stitched into the seams of our embroidery, orchestrated into our traditional songs, spoken by our tongue, and seasoned into the meals we share.

And having no country allows us to do this. Allows us to focus on these beautiful individual things that make us, us. Beautiful individual things that I see taken for granted every day in an established country that is much too occupied with advancement and technology and economy. Instead of feuds over land, laws, and over even more politics and social structures than we already do.

We have no borders to fight over and further divide us. Because having no country means having more homes around the world to visit where homes have been made by our people. Because having no place to enable us to take each other’s existence for granted makes the heart grow fonder when we meet in other lands.

Because even if we’ve never met, when we do, we share stories of how we have lived. Because being Hmong in my land has been this way, and being Hmong in your land has been that. And being Hmong is having this very experience.

So it is okay, that we are people who have no country. Because I have seen life in a land owned by one people, I have seen the heartache that still exists, the imperfections, the inability to unite, the struggle to feel as one belongs. All these still exists within a border that can be claimed as yours. So we, can very much exist, in happiness and unity, with or without a piece of land to honor as our home. If not, more.

As Thor said, “Asgard is not a place, it is a people.”

And the same I shall, “Hmong is not a place, it is a people.”

As long as I have my people, I am not sad.

Because as long as I have my people, I am home.

And even if I didn’t, it would always live within the borders of my soul.

So my fellow Hmong people, go out there and find and make your homes. For you are welcomed in mine, as I am yours.

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22 Comments

  1. Xee Vang

    Thank you! Thank you for answering this question so beautifully and so poised! A question that I at times cannot answer to others because of immense emotions. You’re response is true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Xee. It is definitely a hard question to answer. Especially because it holds so much sadness and tragedy. But we can decide to define our outcome 🙂

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  2. This is a beautiful piece! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much 🙂

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  3. Javaj

    Yes, beautifully answered and written with wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are too kind. Thank you 🙂

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  4. This was written so well and I think as a whole it reflects the way a lot of us feel. Thank you for writing this! I loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel so happy to hear that. And I am even more happy to know others feel the same. Thank you so much!

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  5. Gao Nu Chang

    I love love your interpretation of us Hmong. You have not only given us hope but lighten our heart. We’ve been mistreated and unappreciated for so long. But we only look at the tragedy and never weigh the positive. We see so many country fighting for power. We stay out of it because we learn a hard lesson from before. But look at where we are. We are scatter across every land. There is Hmong everywhere. If they are parts where Hmong is unheard, instead of feeling frustrated, educate them and let them know we exist. There are more unknown culture and people. We should stop getting offended of “Who are the Hmong or what is Hmong”. We should show them. Be more out there instead of continuing to hide. Our culture is beautiful. Every culture is. Be a proud Hmong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beautifully said! Thank you so much for not only the kind words but sharing. I couldn’t agree more and am so happy to share the same thoughts with others out there 🙂

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  6. Luagntxhi

    Loved it !!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Arthur Rahn

    As terrible as the war was to the Hmong, I am convinced that God’s hand is over them. They have been brought from a primitive situation to a place where they can flower and achieve much more than they could have by remaining in Lao/Vietnam. I know a young who graduated from Law School and has a responsible position in government. Had he remained in Laos, he would be herding water buffalo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to absolutely agree as well. I believe so deeply that everything happens for a reason and that we will always be where we are meant to be. Thank you!

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  8. Thank you for this beautiful post! It was very heartfelt and eye-opening to me as a Hmong girl who struggle how I really felt about not having a country to call our own. Your words have truly inspired and opened my eyes on how bless we are 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. That brings soooo much happiness and encouragement to me. Thank you for reading, for seeing such meaning in this piece, and having such love for our people 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This would be right if your culture, traditions and livelihood were strong enough to keep your identity alive. Sadly, this is not the case. You can witness it everywhere in the USA, France, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, China or Korea… Hmong are being culturally washed away and each of their new generation does not keep half of the hmong culture, traditions and livelihood of the previous one and worse, they cannot form new ones identifying them as hmong. They cut and discard entire parts of their culture in the name of adaptation. They adopt new traditions and codes which does not identify them as a specific group anymore. Their sons and daughters proudly talk about their hmong name but they don’t have a single hmong word in their mouth to say how proud they are. They meet in the street or in another country and they do not even dare to greet each other as hmong because they are different from different places. We have ability, capacity, challenge and resiliency but we don’t have what it needs to keep our identity. The logic of the beautiful individual is not our blessing for not having a country. It is what doomed us not to be able to build one. You should be sad not to have a country. A country is like a box where you put things to form your identity and your people. You put all things in it, It is you and yours. With no country, you don’t have a box anymore.You can hardly gather things to form your hmong identity and people. Your things slip through your fingers to go fill others boxes. We should be sad not to have a country. But I can understand your post and what it is. I read it and I just tell myself “this is how the end happens : with the resignation”.

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    1. Thank you very much for your insight. Much of what you say is true. Although my post stems from optimism, it does not mean I am not sad to see those who are either not proud to be Hmong or not interested in their culture and traditions.

      But under no circumstance will I be sad. Because many of us do hold onto what we can in each of our own ways.

      It’s only natural we change with time and evolve differently. Inevitably, we lose our language and traditions due to survival (like needing to learn the main language to survive, not because we hate ours, and having to cut some our traditions due to expenses in this time and day).

      I am sorry your experience of not having a country has been more saddening.

      I’ve had my share too.

      But seeing so many of my White friends who have heritage of country-owning people like Russian, Irish, Swedish and etc, know even less of their roots and culture than we do, makes me proud of what we as a people, have been able to hold onto for the country we never had.

      I do thank you for taking your time to read, respond and even try to understand where my post was coming from.

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    2. Silence Aurelius

      Lis Min Hoe, Clearly you touch on a lot of different contexts that are outside the point of the blog, which was, “growing up as a Hmong American we often get questioned and asked about what country we are from and addressing the emotional issue of it.” If you had even the slightest understanding of world history, you would know and understand that people with technological advances often dominated other civilizations which led to today’s modern societies and leading world powers.

      For example: Bronze technological advances beat out societies dependent on stone and wood. Different agricultural practices led out to more food. Different immunity to diseases gave biological superiority in the case of the North American Natives getting wiped out. The Chinese invented gun powder and therefore solidified their place in the coming modern civilization. The list goes on. And little can be credited to the fact that we aren’t culturally rich so therefore we don’t have a country. Your biased opinion can be debunked through countless historical examples, and I suggest you brush up on books regarding world history and modern civilization to further educate yourself. That being said, we aren’t the only people who don’t have a country. There are many immigrants and cultural peoples who feel as though they do not have a home and country. And the point was and is, growing up in America how do we deal with this constant emotional question.

      If you have any understanding of philosophy, stoic philosophy has a huge play in this post, unbeknownst to the author or not (timeless wisdom I suggest you educate yourself on this term as well), and that is, across different societies and eras human emotions and societal occurrences are repeated and constant, they can be seen across all modern societies; there will always be greed, lust, depression, inequality, sadness, etc… If you read the blog at all there is a line that states, “I have seen life in a land owned by one people” and those emotions still very much exist even in a country like the U.S.A, South Korea, China, Egypt, Haiti, Nigeria, etc… not everything is as glam and fashionable as they might make a “box” seem, those who aren’t even self-aware with their soul and place in the universe. Stoicism also conveys the idea that our external factors are what we can least control, the only thing we truly do have control over is our mindset and our rational response to worldly forces and events that occur and have occurred. And the wise rational response and decision in this case is an unburdening of the soul vs. a chained eternity of “We should be sad” which doesn’t help anything at all and in fact does more harm than good at all; but if that’s your cup of tea then by all means go ahead, but that’s not a tea party I want to be at nor the people who are wise of the good soul.

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  10. […] My People Don’t Have a Country and It’s Okay. […]

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  11. […] — Nakita Chyalia (Tshiab Liag) Vang […]

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  12. […] — Nakita Chyalia (Tshiab Liag) Vang […]

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