Founder of SAO speaks about his journey, American dream

Brandon Concannon Colter , Staff Writer

The history of the Hmong people was the topic of Dr. Phillip Yang, a speaker for the Asian-American Heritage lecture series. He spoke from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 23, in the University Center. He spoke of history, of pain and of joy.

He began with “The achievements that I have accomplished only happen in America,” Yang said. “This is the best country in the world.”

Dr. Yang and his family came to the U.S. in 1986 after being refugees for three years in Thailand. When asked to describe life in a refugee camp, “A lot of pain, suffering, being confused and hunger.” Dr. Yang said.

The history of the Hmong people throughout their time in China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam is long and dreadful. There was one hope and that was the American dream. The American dream was accomplished for Dr. Yang when he and his family finally arrived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Dr. Yang is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a Bachelors degree in Social Work and a Masters degree in Counseling. He then moved on to  to achieve a life long dream of receiving his Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership.

Dr. Yang was one of many Hmong people in the room. When asked to react to Dr. Yang’s story Kaying Lor, a freshman at UW-Whitewater responded “I was able to connect to it because as I have grown up my dad has always told me especially about his family story of how they came over here,” Lor said. “My dad was 15 years old and Dr. Yang was 13 years old so their stories were similar.”

Dr. Yang is one of seven founders of the South Asian Organization (SAO) at UW-Whitewater. The SAO still hosts many events throughout the year but particularly during the month of April which is Asian Culture month. The three big events are the annual volleyball/ basketball tournament on March 4, 2017 held at the Williams Center. Culture Shows on April 13, 2016 in the Hamilton room of the University Center. The last event is Taste of Asia  on April 26, 2017 at the Craveth Community Center which is open to the public.

“The more students that come to the Asian Culture Month the more they will know about our history and who we really are.” Freshman, Mai Her Cheng said of how students can be more involved.