Friendship Force of Wisconsin-Madison is part of Friendship Force International which has more than 360 clubs, with over 16,000 members in more than 60 countries worldwide. Our Mission is to promote global understanding across the barriers that separate people. We do this by connecting to people from other countries and cultures at a personal level.
Our members travel the world with a sense of adventure. When we enter a new friend’s home or invite them into ours, we are changed. Through this, we begin to understand the world and thus ourselves. We promote peace through friendship.
Seek Friendship – Enjoy Diversity!
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Meet people, join in on the fun. Eat in the local restaurants with locals, who might happen to be your hosts. Stay with them in their homes, not in mindless Hotels. Remember that they are as interested in you as you are in them,
Visit many new countries, cultures, and places that most people dream of going to. Or stay closer to home and visit the wonders of our great United States!
Our members love to travel and can’t wait to meet you. We get together for many types of events. Share your travels, your stories with us. We are just like you in so many ways…
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|TRIP TO LOAS IN 2019
One of the speakers for our past Hmong cultural program, Xue Vang, sent us an essay written by her daughter after visiting Laos in 2019. She was already born in the US, so she looks at the past and the present from a different angle than her parents do. This is the just first page. To see the whole pdf file click on TRIP TO LOAS 2019.
MAIVZOO’S TRIP TO LOAS 2019
Hmong American. What does it mean to be Hmong American? That was the big question I kept reflecting on and struggled with as I went to Laos for a week, with my brother, during my winter vacation.
This trip was definitely eye-opening for me. I’ve traveled to so many countries, but this was the first time I’ve felt so emotionally connected to a place and felt the need to come back. This was my parents’ homeland. Where they grew up. Where they escaped. Where my people lived and still do. I usually don’t write long posts about my trips, but for this one, I feel the need to share my thoughts. As a Social Studies teacher, the essential questions I posed to my students kept replaying in my mind: Why are names important? Why is culture important? When is war justified? And, how much power should the government have? As a Science teacher, I wonder what will happen to all the natural resources when the powerful, richer countries continue to exploit and take them over, the impact plastic will have on this country, and i h the advancement in technology in the US, why we don’t readily share that with other countries.
Growing up, I was upset that my parents didn’t give me a ‘white’ name. Myzoom. Two English words put together. Americanized to help Americans be able to pronounce Maivzoo. Yet, so many people still struggled with it. I was envious of kids who didn’t have a weird name. Growing up, my parents pushed my siblings and I to assimilate to white culture, to speak only English so we wouldn’t be put in ESL, and to follow the ‘American’ way. Growing up, I wished I was born white. Wished to be have the same things as my white peers. Wished that I didn’t need to add “Hmong” or “Asian” in front American. That I was simply just an American. However, since college, I started to embrace my Hmong culture and my identity. Now, I’m embarrassed at how basic my Hmong is. Embarrassed at how late it took me to feel pride in my own culture and identity. Embarrassed at the lack of representation we have in US history.
This trip opened my eyes to how ignorant I was about the struggles and travesty people faced during the Vietnam War and the aftermath. I’ve heard stories, seen pictures, watched videos, but none of that prepared me to see it in person. To see how far my parents had to travel, on foot, to escape.
To realize just how much devastation the United States actually caused in Laos – things you never read in the history books or hear about. The Secret War. In each city we went to, we were reminded that over 270 million cluster bombs were dropped on Laos. That Laos is the most heavily bombed country in history per capita. That this was the equivalent to a US bombing mission occurring every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day for 9 years. Of the 270 millions cluster bombs dropped, about 30% (80 million) failed to detonate.
These bombs killed about a tenth of the population in Laos. Imagine living in a country like that. Imagine not knowing when and where a bomb might go off. I had gone to a country that I knew killed my people to earn that the country I call my home killed them as well, possibly even more. Xieng Khouang Province, one of the most impoverished areas in Laos, where many Hmong people live, allies to the US, was the most bombed area. And, heartbreaking to know that the very first sitting US President to visit Laos was President Barack Obama in 2016, 43 years after the US stopped bombing Laos.
To see the whole story click on TRIP TO LOAS 2019.