Miriam Carter: Helping Hmong Elders Connect in Their Communities
Miriam Carter is a retired teacher who has lived in Nigeria, Russia, and India and is spending this summer in Slovakia. Her travels have increased her knowledge about cross-cultural connections. Now, she is applying that knowledge in the Hmong community in her Hamline Midway neighborhood in St. Paul.
Miriam formed her approach to helping relieve isolation of Hmong elders in last year’s Evolve: Re-igniting Self & Community course.
Because Hmong elders seldom speak or understand English, they are often isolated. Younger Hmong see their elders as backward and, as a result, seniors are not respected as they were in their home countries.
Miriam worked with Hmong leaders and PebMoob, a Hmong adult day care center, to develop an English conversation class to help Hmong seniors learn English phrases and customs. The elders learn to answer questions such as, What is your name? What is your address? The new skills help the elders navigate transportation services, shop for groceries, and connect with neighbors. Miriam joins the elders for lunch and bingo in addition to the class, providing a positive experience of cross-culture interaction.
Miriam’s work has been well received in the Hmong community. “Miriam’s warm smile and “sib ntsib dua”—meaning “see you again”—has made a huge impact in our community,” says Sue Xiong, coordinator at PebMoob. When she returns to the states in mid-August, Miriam plans to expand her initiative to include additional teachers and immigrant communities.