By Ricky Rath
For the past two years, Western’s Hmong Student Association’s Tea Party raised money for their heritage dinner. This year, they are fundraising for something even bigger.
WHSA is raising money for a scholarship for Hmong students at their third tea party fundraiser. The fundraiser is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 1 at Viking Union 565.
Entry is free and there will be food that guests can purchase with cash. Guests can enter and leave the event and anytime between those five hours.
The club is not planning to host a heritage dinner this year, as they are directing the money made this year to the scholarship.
“We hope this scholarship inspires Hmong students to want to pursue higher education since in the community, higher education is not pushed as hard,” the club’s public relations officer, Mikayla Saechao, said.
Saechao said the tea party is a good place to hang out with friends and help the club in its effort to support Hmong students entering college.
According to a 2011 report by Soua Xiong and Song E. Lee from California State University Fresno, the Hmong population has one of the lowest rates of higher education attainment among Asian populations.
Xiong and Lee said most Hmong students in college are first generation students and must travel through many obstacles such as limited knowledge about higher education, family obligations, a lack of support and high expectations to finish college.
WHSA co-founder and graduate Rickey Vue Khong Chang said they had talked about starting a scholarship for Hmong students when he was an officer from 2014-2016. He said the scholarship would mean a lot to the alumni officers, as well as the Hmong community.
The Tea Party’s theme this year is “The Curse of the Pirate’s Tea Party.”
Saechao said the event’s previous themes have been colorful and classy, but this year they are going for a darker theme to give the event more variety.
The tea party is also known for its creative decorations after winning AS club awards for the Most Creative Fundraiser in 2016 and 2017.
“The creativity behind the tea parties always surprise me. The decorations, the treats, the different options of drinks and beverages that are available,” Chang said.
Senior Rose Nguyen attended the the tea party every year and said it is executed very well each time.
“I felt like I was at an actual tea party,” Nguyen said. “The decorations and costumes the officers wore matched the theme perfectly.”
Saechao said guests can expect to see a lot of rustic decorations inspired from the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
“You’re really going to feel like you’re on a ship,” Saechao said.
The club is also going to sell baked goods such as cookies, cakes, cream horns and more made by the officers and volunteers. They also received donations from Rocket Donuts for the event.
The club was established as an official Associated Students and Ethnic Student Center club in spring 2014.
“Our mission is spread Hmong culture to the Western community and spread higher education to future Hmong students,” Saechao said.
Chang said he got involved in starting the club because there wasn’t anything he could relate to at Western.
“After finding the club with my fellow Hmong students, I felt I finally belonged at Western,” Chang said. “WHSA has made my experience at Western one to never forget.”
More event information can be found at WHSA’s event page on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/events/145030326183844/