What a weekend!
I began Friday attending the “100 Who Influence” as a representative for students of color, women, and as an individual for Hmong Student Association. It was an honor to attend to discuss with the Board of Trustees the concerns students have on campus. Whether that would be diversity concerns, JTerm/class cuts, or housing issues. I really emphasized the need to have a cultural center on campus to promote diversity and to show potential Pipers that we have support groups for their interests or identities – also, a safe place to be that doesn’t have staff surrounding them. I hope that I keep true to myself to keep fighting for a space that we all deserve regardless of who we are.
Then after, I attended a woman’s leadership retreat that I have no words for. The retreat was amazing and so heart-felt! I met incredible women that I never thought I would meet or get closer with. I always take away something from these retreats that become so dear to me. It amazed me how many women in leadership and power go unnoticed. We need to be put in the light and SHINE! After that, my confidence grew and the realization that if other women can do it, I can do it too! There is no stopping me in believing what I am capable of doing, because I believe in myself and my dreams if I just go for them!
On top of the retreat I learned something I never even realized, just like I never knew anything else about any other women in leadership or power. My mother. I’ve never had a time to sit with my mom and talk about her life. It was like a social norm in the Hmong community to refrain from being emotional or have close relationships with your parents – well, at least in my case. As I listened to all of the stories of women in leadership, I began to reflect about myself, the Hmong women who have been in leadership, and then my mother’s own life – the little things I knew about her.
My mom is amazing. As distant as we are and butt heads a lot, she has gone through the greatest journey I know thus far. She has gone through college as the oldest daughter of 9 children as a first generation Hmong immigrant, got into business to run her own business of now two, helped with the first Hmong program with Dr. Yang Dao at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. But there was one instance that stood out to me the most that I got to be a part of.
That time was the time she got an interview for a job! I was like, ”Yes, mommy! Go mommy! You don’t have to be you’re own boss!” But as I recall, she told me she didn’t take the job even after getting the job on the spot. I was like, “Dang! I wish I could get a job on the spot!” (And before I forget this was like 5 or so years ago, maybe even longer). But then I asked her why? She said that the interviewer asked her how much she would like to be compensated for once she began. With her experience she requested more than expected. She was denied the request and offered a lower one.
After attending the retreat I realized why my mother chose to decline that offer and to continue her businesses and be her own boss. She valued herself, knew how much she was worth, and did not want to settle for less than who she knew she was. I applaud my mother for that courageous act. I now know that I also take after my mother. Stubborn, driven to succeed, caring, independent, and the woman who all the gents’ want. (Daddy, oh are you one lucky son of a gun!) At this moment, I was proud of my mother and proud to be her daughter.
Lastly, I also can’t forget these amazing people! I ended the weekend with my dear friends who never cease to have a good time and to create memories. And these memories will forever be cherished ❤