Author Endows Scholarship, Encourages Sharing Stories


Photo by: Larry Valenzuela

Fresno City College English instructor Soul Vang.

Fresno City College’s own Soul Vang is leaving his mark in the Hmong community by providing scholarship opportunities for fellow writers and poets attending Fresno State.

Vang, an English instructor at Fresno City College, is funding a scholarship available for an undergraduate, a graduate, and a poetry prize that will “hopefully help writers get exposure and support if they need it” in their educational and writing careers.

Vang, who has a master’s degree in creative writing, has had a groundbreaking writing career deeply influenced by his experiences as a Hmong-American.

He said writing has helped him in several ways and inspires him to provide opportunity for fellow writers.

“Writing has helped me to find out who I am, where I come from, and what I want to do for the future,” Vang said. “It situates me in life in a way.” He hopes that it can provide the same comfort and knowledge for others.

This scholarship and annual poetry prize endowment will be available starting in the spring of 2017. Vang encourages young writers to continue to write about the Asian-American experiences for themselves, others and generations to come.

Vang said literature and writing was new to him when he first came to the United States as a child because of the loss of the Hmong writing system and subsequent lack of written history.

“It wasn’t until 1953 that our writing system was devised again for us to record our histories,” Vang said. “So written stories, poetry and literature is very new to us; it’s been only 60 years.”

Because of this, Vang said his goal is to help Hmong-Americans in their endeavours to document stories. Vang said that writing down experiences will ultimately benefit their culture generationally, but “there are so few Hmong writers in America.”

Vang added, “We need to document and write and create because we don’t want to lose our stories.”

Born in Laos, Vang has much to write about. The English instructor, author, and esteemed poet has felt compelled to write about his experiences with loss, travel, assimilation and the Hmong culture from a young age.

He encourages young writers, Hmong-Americans, and people in general to “be a writer, and be a poet.”

Vang said it is important that everyone “writes their own stories for themselves or for their families to share later on in life.”