Gao Vang

Born in Hamilton, Montana, and has lived in Fresno, California since the age of 3. Her parents come from Laos. She was not raised with the traditional Hmong values and norms, but as she grew older she began to learn more about her culture and where she comes from. She is currently working at the IRS and attending Fresno City College. She is an active member of the Hmong American Student Association (HASA) and served as president in Fall 2013. She is also a senator for the Associated Student Government. Gao is currently doing research into the history and cultural meaning of traditional Hmong clothing. The result of this work will be exhibited during the 40th anniversary celebration of Hmong refugees arriving in the US (December 2014). Gao believes that the most pressing issue affecting the Fresno Hmong community is the loss of culture identity. Hmong youth are losing their native language, and thus being cut off from communication with the older generation. Gao is concerned this will eventually lead to the loss of Hmong refugees’ history. She wants to encourage youth to volunteer and be engaged with their community.