Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hmong New Year Celebration and WoW! Is There

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, thousands gather at the Big Fresno Fairgrounds for the Hmong International New Year Celebration.

A festival of music, dancing, food, history, a beauty pageant, and meeting old friends and making new ones, it’s a great place to promote library services.

The Fresno County Public Library is represented with a booth near the outdoor stage, and the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Library is part of it, making library cards.

The Hmong people of Laos were recruited by Americans during the Vietnam War. After the war, they were persecuted by the ruling regime. Many escaped and became refugees. Today, the San Joaquin Valley is home to the second-largest concentration of Hmong outside of Southeast Asia, and the Hmong New Year celebration in Fresno is the largest in the world.

Festivities began the day after Christmas, with Terrance Mc Arthur of WoW!, Gaoneng Lee, and Vincent Petrelli representing the FCPL. Terrance brought the laptop, hotspot, and barcode reader needed for card-making. Vincent had lightning-fast fingers for entering application data. Gaoneng had the Hmong language skills to explain library services to the more than 140 people who stopped at the booth to talk on that day. WoW! librarians and other library personnel will be at the fairgrounds to provide services during the celebration. 

One of the features of the 2016 celebration is a series of exhibits on the Hmong culture, its part in the CIA-sponsored war, the migration to the USA, and how the people have survived and thrived in a new land over the past 40 years.

 If you go to the 2016 Hmong New Year Celebration, look for the FCPL booth at the north end of the fairgrounds, west of the main stage. We hope to see you there!

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