Joe Bee Xiong

War to Peace

1961–2007

How do you make history?

From growing up in a mountain village in Laos, to serving as a child soldier during the Vietnam War, to making a new home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin as a refugee in the 1980s, Joe Bee Xiong’s journey connects many places and people. He served on the Eau Claire City Council as the first Hmong American elected to public office, and his active participation in building cultural bridges in his community made him a role model.

Meet Joe Bee Xiong

View Transcript: English Spanish
View Transcript: Hmong

Questions to Consider

Illustration of the geographical shape of the State of Wisconsin with the number 1 superimposed above it

When Joe Bee came to the United States, he learned new ways of living, but it wasn’t so easy for him to feel at home. Have you had an experience where you were in a place where the ways of doing things or languages spoken were new to you? How did you feel? What did you do to learn about them?

Illustration of the geographical shape of the State of Wisconsin with the number 2 superimposed above it

Some people did not understand why Hmong people were coming to the United States, and would say hurtful things or treat them badly. In Eau Claire, Joe Bee tried to increase understanding by sharing about his culture with other people, and learning about others’ cultures as well. What do you know about the people and cultures in your community? What are some ways people can get to know or understand each other better?

Illustration of the geographical shape of the State of Wisconsin with the number 3 superimposed above it

During his career in Eau Claire, Joe Bee held several leadership roles in which he worked hard to help others. What were some of those roles? What qualities or skills do you think are important for people who are community leaders and helpers to have? How can you learn or practice them yourself?

Read On

Illustrated portrait of Joe Bee Xiong

Joe Bee Xiong: War to Peace

Get the full story with this biography book. Audio files are available on each page if you’d like to listen along!

   

Project Credits

Producer
Becky Marburger

Illustration
Kristen Howdeshell of The Brave Union

Animation
Brandon Ribordy

Animation Voice Over
Cara Yang, Joe Bee Xiong’s daughter

Voiceover Recording
Dean Kallenbach

Sound Design
Matthew Kramer

Audiobook Narration
Jonathan Horne

Audiobook Editing
Kerman Eckes

Captioning
Catie Pfeifer
Vicki Way Kipp

Educator Support Materials
Mia Forslund

Web
John Vieth
Erika Kachama-Nkoy
Tim Schneider

Design
Charles Barrows

Translation Services
Jzong Thao
University of Wisconsin-Madison Cultural Linguistic Services

Thay Yang
Milwaukee PBS

University of Wisconsin-Madison Cultural Linguistic Services

Special thanks to:
Joe Bee Xiong Family

Karen Jacobson
Chippewa Valley Museum

Joel Raney, Chippewa Valley Technical College

Long Vang, Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association

Executive Producer
Megan Monday

Director of Education
Alyssa Tsagong

Director of Television
Jon Miskowski

Story Advisors

Kristen Christopherson and students
Eau Claire Area School District
Eau Claire, WI
(2019)

Elizabeth Duellman and her students
Eau Claire Area School District
Eau Claire, WI
(2019)

Gwen Kong and the Lincoln Elementary Advanced Hmong Club
Madison Metropolitan School District
(2019)

Karla Lien
Eau Claire Area School District
(2019)

Kerri Lintl
Merrimac Community School
Merrimac, WI
(2021)

Darcy Maxwell
Summit Environmental School
La Crosse, WI
(2021)

Briana Odegard and her students
Eau Claire Area School District
Eau Claire, WI
(2019)

Mike Peplinski and his students
Eau Claire Area School District
Eau Claire, WI
(2019)

Tanya Schmidt
Oshkosh Area School District
Oshkosh, WI
(2021)

Blia Schwahn and her high school Hmong Club
Eau Claire Area School District
Eau Claire, WI
(2019)

Bradley Sommer and his students
Eau Claire Area School District
Eau Claire, WI
(2019)

Pua Song and her Hmong Culture class
Hmong American Peace Academy
Eau Claire, WI
(2019)

Chia Vang
Madison Metropolitan School District
(2019)

True Vue
Eau Claire Area School District
(2019)

Funders

This project was part of Wisconsin Hometown Stories: Eau Claire, funded in part by Pablo Properties, Dick Cable Family, Ruder Ware, Holiday Vacations, John E. Kuenzl Foundation, Theda and Tamblin Clark Smith Family Foundation, Mark and Emily Blaskey in memory of Cheri Uelmen, Mel and Leann Breed, Sam and Suzy Murty, Trust Point, Presto Foundation, Royal Credit Union, Anonymous, The Eau Claire Community Foundation, including support from the Scobie Family Fund, the Daniel and Mary Ann Ogan Educational Fund and the Daniel F. and Margaret J. Brown Fund, Friends of Wisconsin Public Television, and the Wisconsin History Fund, supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.