At the 7th International Conference on Hmong Studies on Saturday, April 7th, Dr. Kou Yang, emeritus professor of ethnic studies will be presented with the Eagle’s Award which is given to a scholar that has made significant contributions to the field of Hmong studies. In the past the International Conference on Hmong Studies has recognized other scholars such as Dr. Gary Yia Lee, Dr Jacques Lemonie, Dr. Nicholas Tapp, Dr. Yang Dao, and Dr. Bruce Pamperine.
Dr. Kou Yang was born in a remote mountain village in Northern Laos. During the Secret War he had the opportunity to attend schooling at various locations such as a Buddhist monastery, a Christian missionary school and other schools.
In 1976 Yang arrived to the United States at the age of 21. Although Yang could read and write in several languages such as Hmong, Lao and Thai, he had to struggle to learn English. Yang often told his students he started work as a dish washer and had to learn one word per day.
Yang went on to complete his Associates degree at a community college in Long Beach. Then he completed his Bachelors and Master of Social Work from Fresno State. In 1995 Yang completed the Joint Doctorate Program in Educational Leadership through Fresno State and UC Davis. Yang had to overcome many hardships in a 20 year journey to attain his educational goal.
He taught Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire 1996 to 1997. Yang then went on to teach at California State University, Stanislaus in the ethnic studies program until his retirement in fall 2013. He taught courses in Asian American Studies and started the Hmong Cultural Experience in the United States course in 2001. He served as faculty adviser to the Hmong Students Association for 15 years.
With an extensive publication record on Hmong Diaspora, history and culture, the Hmong American history, Lao culture, and the American experiences of Indochinese refugees, Prof. Kou Yang has written more than 20 essays appeared in widely-consulted peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Asian American Studies; Ethnic Studies Review; Asian Pacific Migration Journal; Hmong Studies Journal; Miao Research Journal, Journal of Guizhou University for Nationalities; and Journal of Hubei Institute for Nationalities. In addition, he has contributed chapters to nine books, and is co-editor of “Diversity within Diaspora: Hmong Americans in the Twenty-First Century”, University of Hawaii Press (2013). He is the author of “Laos and Its Expatriates in the United States,” PublishAmerica (2013), and “The Making of Hmong America: Forty Years after the Secret War,” Lexington Books (2017). He also has two self-published books: “根连万里情依依” (2015), loosely translated as “Root Connection from Ten Thousand Miles (published in China and in Chinese), and “The Hmong and their Odyssey” (2016). Additional works included his news articles and editorial pieces to more than a dozen different newspapers and media outlets such as: The deadly, horrible mess we made still plagues Indochina (2015), 40 Years After the Vietnam War: celebrating the contributions of Indochinese refugees to the USA (2015), and President Obama’s Historic Visit to Laos comes at the Perfect Time (2016). Dr. Kou Yang’s early works include collections of poems, Hmong Knowledge and Wisdom, and Hmong Folk Stories and Traditional Songs. Some of his poems have appeared in Haiv Hmoob, a magazine in Hmong language, and Paj Ntaub Voice, a Hmong literary journal. He is often asked to join a Hmong writer group in their poetry reading events.