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Transformative Travel: Finding a Dating Game That Works

There was a small notice in a throwaway paper in San Diego about the Hmong New Year in a public park in Kearny Mesa. I had known about the Hmong (pronounced Mong) mountain people for decades. In the 1960s, the United States recruited ethnic Hmong soldiers to fight on our side in the Vietnam War and help us conduct a secret war in Laos. This resulted, of course, in thousands of deaths and casualties and, when the war was over, there were terrible reprisals in Laos against the Hmong. Many fled to refugee camps in Thailand, and the United States promised to resettle them, but the process has been difficult, controversial, wrought with duplicity, and painfully slow. Today, there are almost a quarter-million Hmong in the United States.I asked a few people in San Diego if they wanted to go with me to the New Year celebration. They declined, adding that the Hmong aren’t friendly, and it was probably a small, immigrant event that wouldn’t be of much interest.I went anyway. The section of the park reserved for the festivities was ablaze with the dazzling traditional clothing of the hundreds of Hmong who’d come f …

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