CSU, Chico News

Hmong Culture Takes Center Stage at New Chico Museum Exhibit

Date: 01-10-2017

Sean Murphy
Public Affairs

Leaders for a Lifetime, a youth academic outreach program at California State University, Chico, will open the “We Are Hmong: We Are Your Neighbors” exhibit at the Chico Museum on Jan. 15 from 1–5 p.m. While admission to the exhibit is free, Sunday’s opening is a fundraiser to benefit the Chico Museum and Leaders for a Lifetime, and a donation of $5 is requested.

The Chico Museum is located at 141 Salem St. in Chico.

The exhibit is scheduled to run for a year and has been created entirely by the more than 50 students who attend CSU, Chico and local high schools and are part of the Leaders for a Lifetime program. The students worked together to gather photos, cultural items and other artifacts from their families for the exhibit, including funeral attire, baby carriers, jewelry, story cloths, embroidery, shaman tools and dolls wearing traditional clothing.

Leaders for a Lifetime started in 1997 as part of a larger youth empowerment initiative founded by the California Wellness Program. Once the grant ran its course, CSU, Chico Professor Emeritus Mary Portis moved the program to the University campus, where she has been the director of Leaders for a Lifetime ever since.

“Our focus is learning cross-cultural leadership skills, creating and presenting performance activism pieces about culture, and community service to low-income families,” Portis said.

For the exhibit, the Chico Museum took a risk and tried the unique approach of having youth create an exhibit about their culture. To allow the students to teach Hmong culture to people of all ages in small groups, the museum even moved the event’s opening time to Sunday afternoon rather than hold it in the evening, when opening events are usually held.

Portis added that the exhibit may be of interest to faculty and students who have a Winter Session class that touches on culture.

For more information on the exhibit, contact Portis at mportis@csuchico.edu.