The impetus of the Hmong Language and Culture Enrichment Program (HLCEP) first came to light when a few Hmong parents in the Madison area networked and discussed their children’s academic skills. Lack of cultural support available at schools and low self-esteem were identified as key barriers to their children’s low academic success.
Data from the MMSD K-12 shows that our Hmong students are falling far behind in reading and math. In reading, 93% of Hmong students read below grade level. In math, 74% of Hmong students perform math below grade level.
The dialogue snowed ball and Hmong parents became aware that their children were not getting enough exposure to the Hmong culture, language, and traditions at home and school. These parents witnessed a fast-pace of assimilation into the American culture. Besides the low academic skills of their children, they fear that, someday, their kids will not know what it's like to be Hmong.
Mai Zong Vue and Peng Her organized and formalized the parental concerns by bringing parents together. A group of 45 parents, Hmong professionals, and children met in late March 2013 to discuss a community effort. As a result, through the leadership of some parents and Hmong college students from UW-Madison, the Hmong Language and Culture Enrichment Program (HLCEP), an intensive (8 hours/day) six-week summer program, was born.