Vol. 13   No. 18
SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
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Editor's Corner
Reflections
by Jonathan Gramling
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EDITORIAL STAFF

Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Staff Reporter
Hedi Rudd

Contributing Writers
Lisa Peyton-Caire, Sujhey Beisser, Wayne
Strong, Fabu, Kwame Salter, Heidi Pascual, Nia
Trammell, Nichelle Nichols, Jamala Rogers,
Kipp Thomas, and Donna Parker

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Heidi M. Pascual

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Kajsiab House
I first became aware of the Hmong and the role they played as U.S. allies
in the Vietnam War back in the late 1980s when the Urban League ran a
multicultural agency training program with Centro Hispano and United
Refugee Services. These were two-day sessions that were given at an
agency’s offices. Often times during breaks or before the program began
for the day, the staff of the three agencies would sit around and talk.

And that was the beginning of my “deep dive” into the history of the
Hmong and their culture for we talked about the price the Hmong paid as
U.S. allies in the Lao highlands. And then there was the treacherous trek
across Laos and across the Mekong River to the Thai refugee camps.
People stayed in those camps for up to a decade or more waiting for
sponsors so that they could come to the United States and other
countries. And life in Wisconsin was so “foreign” to the older Hmong
who didn’t understand the customs and couldn’t speak English. They
were isolated in a strange land, suffering from PTSD and other mental
health issues due to the decades of trauma that they experienced.

After I took over at The Madison Times for the late Betty Franklin-
Hammonds in 1999, I started covering the Hmong New Year events held
at the Alliant Energy Center during the Thanksgiving weekend. It was a
great exposure to Hmong culture and I made some friends through the
event.

And then Kajsiab House was founded in 2000 by Journey Mental Health in
their efforts to provide culturally-relevant mental health services. It was
created in two out-buildings on the grounds of the Mendota Mental Health
Institute. After all of these years, I still have a hard time finding Kajsiab
House for there is no signage pointing the way and all of the out-buildings
look the same to me painted in institutional white. --
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