The Hmong culture had changed continuously in so many ways overtime. Throughout the years that Hmong families and community have been in the United States, there have been so many changes within our culture and the Hmong people. I feel as if the Hmong community has changed the meaning of what a true Hmong culture really is, and who Hmong people really are, since their arrival in the United States. In our Social Work 280 class we have talked about theories. I really believe that the melting pot theory fits with the Hmong community and culture because many of us had come and take on or adapted ourselves to the American culture. I also think that not just the Hmong culture has had to adapt. The larger American society has had to adapt also due to the many different cultures in the USA today. America has changed the Hmong community in a good way because we have adapted many things. For example the Hmong communities started to adapt by letting their daughters go to college and let their children live on campus. This is unlike in the past when the Hmong first migrated here, and the parents didn’t let the girls do anything educational, or let their children join clubs and activities. I can tell that the Hmong culture has adapted and changed a lot of who they used to be to make them who they are today as Hmong American. I was born here and I’ve learned how to adapt to my environments by learning from the people around me. And as I learned to adapt to it, I have also witness those after me that have done the same things I did right away, adapting with the help of those who were here before them.
“Past generations of immigrants in America, it is argued, became successful by shedding their historical identities and adopting the way of their new country, which allowed them to achieve social mobility” (Marsiglia & Kulis, 2009, p. 65). I picked this statement because I believed that the meaning behind it is true. Being a Hmong person myself, I can see my culture changing rapidly from generation to generation. In order for us to feel comfortable and fit into the American life and dream, we have reshaped and shaped our culture so many times as the years goes by. The biggest change that we have made is the clothes we wear. We have put away our traditional apparels and accessories in suit cases and boxes, and store them deep in the attic, basement, or the closet. And we have learned to put on the American clothing of jeans and t-shirts; not only here in America, but also in Thailand and Laos, where we mainly used to wear our traditional clothing. During special events we will take them out and put them on, and during the early evening, put them away until another event comes around.
With adaptation and changing come sacrifices. Sacrifices such as the language of the Hmong people. As the generations continue, each generation speaks less and less of our Hmong language. And this had created an invisible barrier between the older generation and the newer generation. My three year old niece, for example, can hardly speak or understand the Hmong language. Every word she says and understands is just English. When my parents talked to her, the invisible barrier would appear; they can neither understand her or her them. And almost like my niece, I find myself constantly talking in English and understanding it more than my origin. I find it very hard to stop all the time and try to speak Hmong to people who don’t understand English. And just like my niece and me, many of the Hmong nowadays speak more English than Hmong, and this is making our language disappear little by little.
I can go on for days and days pointing out many of the changes in the Hmong culture and how we have adapted to the American culture and way of living. We don’t think about these changes on a daily basis, but they are making a big impact on how we live today. By adapting so many things into our culture, we are more successful and we have accomplished many things that we weren’t able to do in the past. More Hmong people own their own businesses and more young women are getting a chance to get a degree if they choose to. Now more Hmong people are pursuing a higher education after high school than ever before. By adapting many of the American ways into our cultures, we have learned to take opportunities that are open to us now that was never offer in the past. But as we try to take these opportunities and become successful people, we are losing the most important thing to us, our traditions, our cultures, our language, and our ancestors.
Marsiglia, F. F., & Kulis, S. (2009). Diversity, oppression and change: culturally grounded social work. Chicago, IL Lyceum Books, Inc.
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