Department of Human Services & Counseling
Professor Pens Book About Hmong Refugees
When Professor Lynann “Annie” Butler needed a guest speaker to discuss Asian American issues for one of her classes at Metropolitan State University of Denver, she never dreamed it would end up inspiring her to write a book about a Hmong refugee from Laos. “But here I am, waiting to hear if DECA books is actually going to publish Walking With Tigers,” the Associate Professor of Human Services said.
The Asian Pacific Development Center in Denver provided her with contact information for Shoua Her, who graciously agreed to speak to her class. Again. And again. “I listened to his story twice a year for eight years, and ultimately realized that someone needed to tell his story. I guess that someone was me,” she said.
As a result, on her recent sabbatical Butler traveled to Laos to research Hmong refugees. She also spent time at the Hmong Cultural Center in St. Paul, MN, the largest comprehensive museum about the “secret war” in Southeast Asia, which began in 1963. “As I did my research, I had a tremendous realization that I wasn’t writing his story, but it was a story that was representative for tens of thousands of people,” she said. “I consider it an honor, and a responsibility.”
That’s the way that Butler approaches, teaching as well. “I feel it’s my responsibility to make sure nothing in my classroom is boring. That’s why I incorporate a lot of games and activities in my lectures. I have to shake things up and make it exciting for my students.” It’s no wonder Butler received the Teaching Excellence Award from the Faculty Senate at MSU Denver in 2011 and was nominated for the US Professor of the Year Award in Human Services.
“My goal for my students is that they develop a lifelong love of learning,” she said. “I want students to get insights and perspective. I want them to gain awareness of how to make ethical decisions. I want them to be a good candidate for a well paying job, with the skills, knowledge and character they need to succeed. I am here to help them achieve that.”