Importance of Graduation
Why is customizing a graduation sole important? To several, it is totally unnecessary. However, I find that the significance of graduation depends on what and how you view graduation.
Graduation day is a huge turning point in anyone’s life. Growing up in a Hmong household, as a daughter of refugees, it marked a pivotable point in your life. Education and knowledge were the keys to success. It opens many doors and opportunities. Therefore, graduation shows that you had worked hard in school and have the ability to learn numerous things.
Graduation also marks a milestone. It shows the world that all your hard work has paid off. You have done it and you are going to embark on an amazing journey into adulthood. Not only that but you have a certified degree as proof to validate your hard work.
Therefore, graduations are highly anticipated and celebrated. The best way to showcase you as an individual during graduation is to customize your gown/sole. In a sea of black caps and gowns, a customized sole will set you apart from your classmates. Not only that, it allows your loved ones to spot you out of the crowd.
My graduation has long past and I wished I took the opportunity to customize apart of my graduation outfit to represent my culture, my passion, and essentially my identity.
Therefore, when my sister announced she was graduating I was excited as I could customize her graduation sole or gown for her. But even before I could present what I wanted to do, she approached me first.
“Paxia, could you customize my sole? I want to represent my culture, my identity, and school?” my sister asked. How could I say no to something I already was thinking of and wanted to do. So of course I said yes.
Since she was going to be a proud alumnus of the University of Milwaukee, she bought the sole from them. I then took the sole and “Hmongized” it. What I mean by Hmongized is that I took the generic sole and added my heritage to it. I stitched on vibrant and elaborate Hmong embroidery. Then I beaded the sole with our traditional pearl beads and French coins. There are a deep meaning and history as to why we use pearls and French coins but I’ll save that for another post.
History and Identity
As a Hmong American, wearing Hmong embroidery, Hmong colors, and beading means more than just wearing clothes. You are wearing clothing that depicts your history and your ancestry.
Since Hmong people were nomadic and don’t have a country, our clothing, jewelry, customs, and traditions are all we have to our heritage. Not only that, our embroidery is pictionary letters that illustrate our history: where we’ve traveled and what historical events happened to our people. Therefore we take pride in wearing Hmong embroidery/clothes.
I could talk more in depth about my culture and heritage but I will save that for another post.
To honor this accomplishment, I also made a money butterfly lei and a bouquet of money roses. When you give a form on money, it always means prosperity for that individual. Which is why I chose to make a money butterfly lei and money roses.
For the money lei, I used a vibrant neon pink ribbon for the beginning of my lei. The ribbon would be comfortable around the neck and the vibrant pink is significant to my culture as a pinks are often used to signify beauty. I then beaded with pearls and french coins and the folded paper butterflies.
For the roses, I made 12 money roses and arranged them with real flowers to form a beautiful bouquet. Money leis and roses are fun to make but super time consuming. If you want to see a tutorial on how I made them, leave me a comment below.
I love celebrating graduations as it is a huge accomplishment. Moreover, as a designer, I love customizing things and clothing as it adds a personal touch while being unique. If you haven’t yet, check out my other blog posts on projects that I’ve worked on for clients here. Below, I’ve added some photos of my sister from her graduation day.
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