Xiong Yang of Oshkosh is one of only a handful of Hmong firefighters in Wisconsin. He graduated from the FVTC Fire Protection Technician program in 2011, and today is a firefighter with the Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue.
“My parents fled Thailand in 1989 and settled in Oshkosh with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” he explains. “I knew my parents didn’t come all the way to America for me not to pursue the possibilities in the land of opportunity.”
Being first generation-born in the United States, Xiong’s siblings helped him navigate the path to college. “In the Hmong language, there is no singular word for ‘firefighter.’ When I first told my parents I wanted to pursue firefighting, they did not know what that was until I described the duties of the profession.”
Xiong recently shared his story with Love Wisconsin, a digital storytelling project that shares positive stories about people throughout the state. He explains the importance of being a public safety professional representing the Hmong community: “A lot of people they’ve never seen a Hmong firefighter before. We are part of changing that narrative.”
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