Jan 17 2005

Hmong Having Problems Finding Adequate Transportation

Published by at January 17, 2005 7:10 pm under Interpretation,Translation

Finding adequate transportation has become one of the principal hurdles facing the most recent wave of Hmong refugees in central Wisconsin.

Mass transit can be confusing or nonexistent, finding volunteer drivers can be difficult, and the Hmong-language version of the Wisconsin driver’s manual can be tough to comprehend.

For 44-year-old Yong Yia Xiong… the permit test has proven difficult. Xiong, a new arrival to Stevens Point, failed four times, one shy of the state’s limit for taking the permit test.

He’s studied by using a Hmong-language version of the state’s driver’s manual, but the translation is confusing and ambiguous, he said.

Similar translation issues have plagued many refugees, Vang said, and the manual even contradicts itself in places. Hmong and English are very different languages to learn, Vang said, so the meaning of a statement or phrase could be altered or misunderstood in translation.

Also not all refugees read Hmong, said Chia Khang, a 1984 refugee who now works as a client services worker at North Central Community Action Program in Wisconsin Rapids. Some write Laotian or read Thai, and getting an interpreter to help with the English-language version of the manual can be tough.

“I used to ride the bus for two whole years, the first two years that I came,” Khang said. “Most of the problem, what I saw, is the reading and writing.”

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