For the first time, students at Fresno State can earn a minor in Hmong language studies through the Linguistics Department in the College of Arts and Humanities. Over 100 students are enrolled in Hmong minor courses for fall 2016.

Fresno has the second-largest Hmong population in the United States. More than 1,500 Hmong students attend Fresno State — making up about 6 percent of total enrollment.

The Hmong minor at Fresno State is the first in the western United States and fifth in the nation. The Fresno State Hmong minor is the only one in the nation with a focus on language. Six courses will be offered, consisting of 20 units.

Hmong program coordinator Dr. Kao-Ly Yang said the minor is designed to connect or reconnect students to 4,000 years of Hmong heritage.

“For Hmong people all over the world,” Yang said, “having a Hmong minor means their language and culture will be preserved, transmitted and adapted to the countries where they live. The Hmong community will see a new generation of leaders equipped to understand and appreciate their culture, to adapt it to their modern lives and to communicate its challenges but also its beauty and humanistic values to mainstream society.”

A reception next month will announce two related scholarships.

“The Hmong minor is a testament to the dynamic energy that characterizes our disciplines,” said Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “A connection to one’s language and culture are the key to a harmonious society. The Hmong minor will open doors to a past, allow students to envision a present full of promise and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of our Valley and nation.”

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