Each term, one participant from each HECUA program takes on the role of student blogger, sending regular dispatches from the field. Ying Moua (she/her/hers) is HECUA’s student blogger for Inequality in America Spring 2021. She is student at The College of St. Scholastica majoring in Peace and Justice. Read on for her final post.
I wanted to end my blog posts with this, because it seems so cliche to start with introductions. My name is Ying Moua. I am a Hmong American and currently a senior at the College of St. Scholastica, in Duluth. I have spent my whole life in Duluth and when offered the chance to do HECUA in the Twin Cities, my freshman year I declined, thinking that I would rather be in another country than another city (go big or go home). However with dwindling finances, a lack of passion and a need for a change of scenery, in my final semester I applied for a HECUA’s Inequality in America Program, something that I wish I had done sooner.
Starting this adventure, I didn’t know what to expect. We were in the middle of a pandemic, I knew nothing about HECUA’s domestic programs and I didn’t want to meet new people. However, with every step I completed I began to look forward to it. Internships were something that I was very excited for, but when I saw the list, I was disappointed. I wanted something that I could relate to or was passionate about, not something behind the scenes or a desk. I was also working on connecting with Hmong organizations, however I wasn’t able to make that connection.
I ended up interning at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). My main purpose at CAIR was to create a moving exhibit on islamophobia. This allowed me to practice skills that I wasn’t too confident in, my artistic and writing skills. Working with CAIR, not only were they understanding and flexible but they also pushed me outside my comfort zone. CAIR allowed me to explore areas of nonprofit work that I wasn’t drawn to, such as the legislative aspect or grant writing. These areas not only allowed me to learn more about nonprofits but also encouraged me to be more open to things that don’t immediately peak my interest.
Despite being all remote, HECUA was still able to offer an immersive experience. Classes were still in Zoom, but I felt closer to my HECUA classmates more than I did to people that I had in person classes with. This last month I struggled with many factors outside of my control and not only did my mental health suffer, but so did, my classes and internship. Despite this, the people in HECUA still encouraged me to do what I could to finish. And this speaks volumes to HECUA as a whole, HECUA is whatever you, as an individual, make it. The people around you are there to help. I truly believe that if I didn’t have their support I wouldn’t have been successful.
What started out as trying to get away turned into something much more important and impactful. I was able to take part in a remotely immersive learning experience, I took on an internship that I knew little about, and I was able to create long lasting relationships.