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home : sports / outdoors : sports/outdoors Friday, November 17, 2017

9/27/2016 2:57:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Two Generations Of Eagle Scouts

Amy Doeun

Aaron Yang
Kong Yang, Scout Master Scott Howe and Aaron Yang
In 1989 Xia Yang became the first Hmong to get the Boy Scouts' highest honor - the Eagle Scout award. The Star Tribune wrote on article about Yang that ran in the June 4, 1989 paper. The author, Kevin Diaz says, "Like many an immigrant before him, Xia Yang, 17, has a head full of bad memories to remind him constantly of what it means to be safe in America."

Yang said on his Eagle Scout application, "My people face many, many difficulties in adjusting to American Life... We have been exiled from our land and, in some cases, our families. The road before us is fraught with danger, but more importantly it is filled with hope."

Boys can enter the Cub Scouts as young as 7. When they are old enough they will transfer to the Boy Scouts. In the Boy Scouts, each new member is given the rank of Tenderfoot. There is a certain time period that they are required to stay in each rank and also a list of required activities including merit badges for each rank. There are five ranks before a young man qualifies for the highest level - Eagle Scout.

An Eagle Scout has special classes and projects. Each young man is also required to complete a service project. Yang's service project was "the painstaking translation of a 25-page police crime-prevention manual into his native Hmong tongue," Diaz wrote.

Yang said, "I pray that my small contribution to my people is also a contribution to my new home... the United States of America."

Now the Yang family has two Eagle Scouts. On Saturday, August 27th Yang was present for another first, his son Aaron Yang became the first second generation Eagle Scout in the Hmong Community.

Scott Howe was the Scout Master for both Xia and Aaron. He said, "It is interesting that when I first began as Scout Master for the troop I had no experience working with Hmong people. The youth and parents really had no idea what scouting was all about. Now many of the parents were scouts themselves or know the program."

The Hmong aren't the only people to change over the years. Howe spoke highly of the education he received, "I went from knowing nothing about the Hmong community to being part of family events. It is unbelievable for me to be immersed in the culture. The education I have received is fabulous."

Aaron told Hmong Times there are two types of scouts, "The ones whose parents encourage involvement, and some scouts who actually found the scouting project themselves, then they ask their parents if they can join, they are really ambitious."

Aaron was part of the first category. "Ever since I could walk and talk I was going with my dad. My dad said I should do it [scouting]. I worked my way up the ranks to [the ranks] Star and Life. When I got to Life I was wondering if this was for me, and what I really wanted to do. I needed to start preparing for Eagle Scout projects. I learned a life lesson then - no one would do this for me. I had support but no matter how much support you have they can't do it for you. I had to do it myself." So Aaron drew on some of the skills he had learned from previous ranks including leader skills. "I thought back to what I did and learned. I used what I learned to finish what I wanted to finish." Now the Yang family has two Eagle Scouts.

Aaron explained in addition to doing a service project, Eagle Scouts have to do several three month plan projects including personal fitness, family life and personal management. "For personal management you have to keep track of your income and expenses and manage finances. For family life you have to do chores and practice emergency drills and for personal fitness you have to come up with fitness goals and monitor your progress."

Aaron is 19 and attending Inver Hills Community College. "Right now I am signed up with a major in biology at Inver. I eventually want to transfer to a four-year university and get a degree in natural resources or marine biology. I hope to work for the DNR."

Aaron also plans to continue working and volunteering with scouting. "For the past four years I worked at a Boy Scout Camp." He plans to continue.

Aaron was the first, but not the only second generation Hmong Eagle Scout. Kong Yang has also earned his Eagle Scout award, and is the second, second generation Hmong Eagle Scout. Kong's uncle, Ay Vue, was the third ever Hmong Eagle Scout. Today there is a strong Hmong presence in the Boy Scouts and we can thank the Hmong Boy Scouts years ago for their hard work and continuing the tradition in this new generation of Boy Scouts.

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