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HEADLINE: UW Stout opens center for Hmong language, culture

DATELINE: MENOMONIE, Wis.

The University of Wisconsin-Stout has opened a new center committed to the Hmong language, culture and history.

The Center for the Preservation of Hmong Language and Culture will provide services and products to teach about Hmong language and culture, said director Ken Her, an adviser at the university's Multicultural Student Services.

Chancellor Charles Sorensen said there was a particular need for such a center in the Chippewa Valley, which is home to about 4,000 Hmong.

"They have had and will have an influence on who we are," Sorensen said. "We struggle with diversity on this campus," Sorensen added. He said it is important for different cultures to interact.

Her, an instructor of practical Hmong language courses, said he planned to produce two textbooks. He also wants to develop a CD-ROM that has native Hmong pronunciations to help students learn the language.

Another goal of the center, Her said, was to teach and preserve Hmong Pahauh, which is the one form of Hmong written language created by Yan Song Lue in the late 1950s.

"The spoken language is not in danger now," he said. "Ninety seven percent of the Hmong students at UW Stout do not know how to read or write Hmong."

UW Stout has 76 Hmong students, Her said.