With one of the largest Hmong populations in the nation located in the Central Valley, Fresno State is developing a new minor program in Hmong Studies that will be the fifth such program in the nation and first in the western United States.

The minor, which would be offered through the Linguistics Department in the College of Arts and Humanities, is in the final stages of the approval process with a decision due in the spring. The target date to launch is the fall 2016 semester.

The proposal calls for 18 units in Hmong culture, history and language. Linguistics faculty member Dr. Kao-Ly Yang, who is coordinating the proposal process, said the minor is designed to connect or reconnect students to Hmong heritage that comprises 4,000 years of history.

“Students will learn to read, write and speak Hmong from beginning to advanced levels, which will also provide a better foundation in academic writing,” said Yang. “They will also acquire knowledge of the Hmong culture, literature and traditions to enhance their capability and understanding of the challenges that face Hmong communities and expand their experience in the Hmong world.”

She said this opportunity to develop and enhance language proficiency can be applied in several professions.

Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, dean-designate of the College of Arts and Humanities, said such a program is significant to this region where Hmong New Year is celebrated every December by more than 100,000 people from throughout California.

“The Hmong minor is significant to our region and our state because it manifests Fresno State’s focus on cultural diversity and dialogue, and our commitment to educating world citizens who act and think locally to find innovative solutions,” said Jiménez-Sandoval, who last month was named dean of the college, effective Jan. 1.

This year, Hmong New Year celebration participants will also be able to view another community activity that Fresno State supports, the Hmongstory 40 Project that runs Dec. 12-Jan. 2 at the Fresno Fairgrounds. Jiménez-Sandoval will join Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro at the opening ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday. The public exhibit will be open daily from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. including the Hmong International New Year celebration Dec. 26-Jan. 1. It will be free except during the celebration which has a general admission of $4 (free for certain groups – see website).

Fresno State presently offers minors in Asian American studies and Asian Studies, and a minor and certificate in Southeast Asian Studies.

For more information, contact Dr. Kao Ly-Yang at 559.278.6437 or at kayang@csufresno.edu.

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