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Young Vietnamese Hmong Teacher Empowers Women in Ethnic Minority Community

Zoey Nguyễn  VIETNAM TIMES Tue, April 19, 2022

The inspiring story of Khang Thi Bla, Secretary of the Youth Union of Che Cu Nha commune, Mu Cang Chai, dedicated to helping her hometown.

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Photo: Bao Van Hoa

The Hmong people in Mu Cang Chai preserve the beauty of traditional culture in each costume pattern. One of the youth representative in the Hmong community is Khanh Thi Bla in Che Cu Nha commune (in Mu Cang Chai district, Yen Bai province).

With a deep8 love for Hmong culture, the female contestant entered “Yen Bai Youth to preserve and promote national cultural identity” contest in 2021 with a video clip introducing Mu Cang Chai and the local culture as well as the patterns on the fabric with beeswax.

She made an impression and attracted viewers, was highly appreciated by Yen Bai Provincial Youth Union and awarded the First Prize of the Contest. Bla also narrated the video using English, which makes her a well-deserve winner for creativity and dedication.

Preserving thousand-year-old traditional craft

With the theme “Beauty of Highland Parterns”, Bla tells about the stages, the beauty of beeswax drawings on traditional costumes of the Mong ethnic people in Mu Cang Chai district, which is lively and attractive – it is also the proves the industriousness and hard work of Hmong women.

Bla made a video clip dubbing all of his beeswax pattern painting works in English.

Her hometown is nestled among magnificent terraced fields. On the way to the village, it is easy to spot the Hmong women enthusiastically get their embroidery and weaving done. From their skillful hands, colorful traditional clothing comes to life.

According to Khang Thi Bla, from a young age she was taught to make linen, weave cloth, and draw patterns on cloth with beeswax from her grandmother, mother, and women in the village.

For generation of Hmong women, this traditional craft has existed since thousands of years ago, just like how they pass down an old folk song “Dyeing indigo like our sisters did, printing flowers on new dresses/ Pretty girls who don’t know how to make linen are no pretty girls / Pretty girls who don’t know how to hold a needle are no pretty girls…”.

Generations of H’mong girls learns how to make linen, weave fabrics, and know how to dye patterns on the fabric with beeswax and other materials since young age.

To make a dress, the Hmong woman has to spend a lot of time. Additionally, wax painting is done after the stages of linen making and weaving. Because of that, every year, when the transplanting crop has to be completed, which is also the most leisurely time, the Mong women go to get the indigo tree to weave cloth and paint.


Cultivating ethnic children’s learning passion

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Photo: Bao Van Hoa

After graduating from the Faculty of Law at Thai Nguyen University of Science in 2020, Bla returned home with a dream. She wants to build better life for her family.

She also participated in activities and movements of the Youth Union and opened an English class for children in the commune to help them confidently speak and communicate in English. The young woman believes all children can have a better chance to fulfill their dreams in life through education.

Bla expressed: “Children here are ethnic minorities, are shy and afraid to communicate, so I wish to contribute a small part of my strength to help them become self-sufficient, more confident. I want them to study well to have a brighter future. In particular, the villages here always attract foreign tourists, so teaching them to learn English to communicate with them is also a way to promote the beauty of traditional culture.”

Currently, each of Bla’s classes has about 10 students at both primary and junior high levels, who are all Mong ethnic people in Che Cu Nha commune. Classes start from 5pm to 6pm from Monday to Friday and every Saturday and Sunday morning.

She wants her class to inspire the learning passion for the children. Bla said whenever she had a day off, she used to go over 80km to Hoan Kiem Lake (Hanoi) with friends and ask foreign tourists to practice communication together. At first, Bla was afraid that the wrong pronunciation would make them laugh, but she gained more confident over time til she is no longer afraid.

As a working adult, Bla herself has always made constant efforts to cultivate and enrich her knowledge.

Hopefully, with love as well as enthusiasm, the young girl’s aspiration will contribute to building the homeland and preserving the beauty of the villages of Che Cu Nha and Mu Cang Chai – the special national monuments with the unique traditional culture of generations of Hmong people.


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