New videos promote cultural understanding

Living in one of the nation’s most diverse states allows Californians to learn about people from different countries without leaving home. But finding information on some cultures isn’t always easy. Luckily, California has two new video projects that offer glimpses into two newer Californian peoples – Hmong and Somali refugees. The videos were produced under California Cultural Crossroads, a library-based program which promotes ethnic cultural programming through library and community collaborations.

Who Are the Hmong? The Brave People, a collaborative effort of the Hmong International Culture Institute and the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library, tells of the Hmong journey through several continents for thousands of years. The Hmong way of life, the video shows, has flourished despite tremendous hardship for the Hmong people in China, Southeast Asia, Laos, Thailand, the United States and other countries. The video runs approximately 58 minutes and is available for interlibrary loan from the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library.

Produced by teens, and designed to raise awareness about the African refugee experience, the digital stories in Refugee Voices: Somali Stories record and preserve the experiences of East African refugees living in the San Diego area. Refugee Voices, which includes the shorts Where is Home? and Girls Working for a Better Tomorrow was made possible through a partnership between the San Diego Central Public Library and the Media Arts Center San Diego.

Since 1960, Somali people have struggled for unity and control of their destiny. Where is Home? illustrates that struggle as two Somali refugees describe growing up in the United States, and dreaming of returning to their homeland to help those still in need.

In Girls Working for a Better Tomorrow, Yasmin Hamud, a community leader who mentors San Diego’s young Somali girls, shares her vision of a more united San Diego. She states in the video, “I would like to see a community that is more united and that works with one another so we can solve our own issues. It does not matter if you are an African American, Hispanic, or a Somali American, what matters is the community and the need for leaders and the potential of these children and their want to succeed.”

For more information on Who Are the Hmong? The Brave People, contact Alex Bailey, Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library at or by phone at (209) 937-7701. For more information about Refugee Voices: Somali Stories, contact Lynn Whitehouse, San Diego Public Library at or by phone at (619) 236-5821, or Ethan Van Thillo, Media Arts Center San Diego at

Both videos were supported in whole, or in part, by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act grant funds administered in California by the State Librarian. However, the opinions expressed in the videos do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, or the California State Library, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

For additional information about this project, contact Library Programs Consultant Kathy Low at 
(916) 653-6822 or email




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