Free «Lao Hmong» Essay

Lao Hmong

1.1  Background of the Research

In 1975 Lao Hmong communist war occurred and after the brutal takeover thousands and thousands of Hmong people immigrated to the U.S and faced a life of hurdles and a cultural revolution. Hmong are Asians who now reside in the US as an aftermath of the Vietnam War. Today, there are millions of Hmong living in the U.S and now are watching their second generation attending schools and colleges and growing up with Americans and as Americans. Majority of them now live in California and Wisconsin. Initially, after having immigrated to the U.S. the Hmong people faced a life of troubles which included discrimination from the U.S citizens and from other ethnic groups residing in America with accusations of being a community that they take advantage of social welfare and governmental facilities because of having deprived of a nation (Lee, 2007). After the war ended, they did not return to Laos, as they felt safer in the US and Thailand and going to Laos for them only meant massive killings and oppressions. So now they live in the U.S and raise their children there. With many famous Hmong people, such as in the government and many social and political designation, the high-school Hmong residents are now taking on a new cultural shift from pure Hmong to Hmong American where their culture is a mix of American and Hmong decent and their ethnicity is a confusion for themselves. Hmong and American culture was contradictory when they first arrived to the U.S and now they have gone through a cultural phenomenon known as acculturation. Realizing the growing distance between the Hmong second generation, the Hmong community elders are continually engaged in promoting their roots to the children and teenagers through magazines, and cultural activities (Lee, 2007). But despite of such activities the cultural shift has occurred and the children might know and realize they are having a different ethnicity but to them a true picture is not defined as they have not themselves experienced living in their homeland. They are only getting a second hand version of what it is like being a true Hmong. What they get is a mix of two cultures making them only confused as to what to follow.

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In a research conducted by Stacy Lee on Hmong high school students published in Lee Baker’s book, she found that the Hmong teenagers and students have high aspirations and potential to achieve a much better standard of Living and professional accomplishments than other groups of immigrants residing in the U.S. They have the intellect despite of their confusing cultural heritage (Lee, 2004). But Lee’s much emphasis on the education in contrast to their cultural orientation as of today; this leaves room for more research to follow in that area. While lee focused on education, Bic Ngo went further to explore the cultural element of marriage found among the Hmong second generation females. According to his research findings, the majority of the females displayed strong opposition agains the notion of early marriages in their families and based on their experiences and observations of the U.S citizens who are their friends, they see late marriages as a better option (Ngo, 2008). Ngo’s research depicted one strong evolving cultural factor found among the second generation Hmong Americans, but then again his research too lacks the idea of how the Hmong second generation teenagers really do see their culture as and how would they define it? Is it now a mixture of the various characteristics of different cultures they see around them? Has their true ethnicity lost its esteem? Both of these researches fail to answer these questions, as their focus has been too specific, and leave room for the basic question to be answered as to how can their ‘new’ culture be defined.

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1.2  Research Problem 

When we reflect light upon the community of the Hmong and their children taking on the American culture, Hmong parents may wonder what their real cultural and ethnic identity is and what is the cultural and ethnic identity they have developed? Faced with this question, the researcher is to form the background of this research and the dilemma to highlight which could be resolved with the help of the findings. The problem that the research is faced with is the acculturation and the ethnic identity of the second generation Hmong American.  These are those children and teenagers who are currently studying in schools or colleges and are only partly or completely unaware of their heritage and cultural background.  So the problem at hand for the research is the confusing cultural and ethic standing and development of the second generation Hmong young adult and children.

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1.3  Purpose of the Research

With the background to find out the Hmong’s cultural and ethnic heritage, the research is being conducted to investigate the cultural characteristics they now have owing to the acculturation of the youth and how do they see their ethnicity. They may have come to blend in with the Americans but they are different nonetheless from the Americans. Hmong are Asians and Asian and American cultures are widely different. How far have they come when they are said to have gone through acculturation? And what is their ethnic identity now after this acculturation? This is what the research will focus on through using qualitative research techniques. The purpose of the research is to identify and explain the true culture of the second generation Hmong Americans of today, of those that are in their teens currently and what is their existing ethnic identity through their own eyes and through the eyes of the society with the attempt of using such information to either influence their beliefs and values and bring them back in accordance with their original heritage or accept them as who they are continue accepting their infused characteristics of acculturation with the American culture.

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1.4  Significance of the Problem

Hmong community is continually engaged in reviving their heritage and infusing their background onto their children through various different cultural and social activities. The activities are a reaction of the gravely concerned Hmong families when they see their children becoming Americans and following their culture. The children can not be blamed for any of this as they are only molding themselves to the environment they have been born to and becoming accepted by adopting similar characteristics. They have not lived in their own homeland to witness and learn to be like true Hmong people. Their schools and friends are American so they learn to be like them owing to their three sixty environment that they encounter. For the families and the cultural activists groups changing them back or influencing them to return to their original culture is not a thing to be done forcefully or lightly at the same time. The beginning of this challenge is the understanding of their existing acculturation and ethnic identity that they have taken on through the last decades after the immigration. While the parents have been busy trying to find safe and welcoming places to live peacefully in the U.S. and avoid the harsh accusations and discriminations from the different ethnic groups living in the U.S,  their children grew up to be like Americans.  As much as they now do not have to face the similar brutalities and discriminations with a wide range of acceptability in diverse areas of education and occupations, their families are now infused with the American culture which is quite different from their own. And to change it back or bring it to terms with their own yet again, they have to engage in a thorough understanding of the form of culture the children have now. What language they use, what personality traits they have developed, what are their beliefs and values and what are their definitions of moral and ethical issues facing a society and culture.

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1.5  Research Question

With the focus on finding out about the cultural characteristics and differences with the original Hmong culture and with that of the existing second generation Hmong American culture, the dissertation focuses on the following research questions:

  1. What are the constituents of the culture of the second generation Hmong Americans?
  2. In what ways has the acculturation occurred among the second generation Hmong Americans?
  3. How similar to the Hmong or American culture, is the culture of the second generation Hmong Americans?
  4. What is the ethnic identity of the second generation Hmong Americans?

1.6  Dissertation Title

When the research is to focus on the cultural standing of the Second generation Hmong American, and the purpose of the research is to identify their characteristics to form a clear picture of their acculturation and ethnic identity, the dissertation takes on the title based on such ingredients of the paper. The title of the dissertation is thus:

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