Crossed cultures

January 9, 2011
By Fartun Ahmed BRONZE, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Fartun Ahmed BRONZE, Minneapolis, Minnesota
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

From the moment I read the title of this article, I was hooked. Pa Houa Thao has such a natural way of telling a story. Not only was I sympathizing with her from the beginning, but I also found myself in her story. Part of writing a great story is telling something sincere and honest, and to me she captivated her life in such a beautiful way. She was not altogether seeking sympathy because she acknowledged he parents’ lack of education as a primary factor. She was also respectful and constructive in the way she presented her culture through writing.

I think that I was very drawn to her story because there is a universal connection between immigrants that natives cannot quite understand. As an East African girl, I find it very hard to explain to my grandmother the importance of knowing about the things around me as an individual. The elderly in my culture do not challenge themselves. Part of the reason is because they never asked the provocative questions themselves. They took on cultural norms to simply continue a crippling trend.

When I was reading Thao’s words, it was as if I was hearing my thoughts. I always tell my grandmother that part of the reason why our women might not get far in life is because we pull them down. If someone of your kind tells you that, all you were made to do is to cater to a man and live your childhood preparing to cover those needs, then why look shocked when failure strikes? You do not have to be a rebel to get this across, but you cannot get something into a mind that is already fixed. I sometimes think that our older women are brain washed because they take matters that are not important while leaving the major ones. I gain catch myself, think, and sympathize with them.

When we people first started to immigrate to North America, the world became reversed. The mothers who had daughters in North America became richer and able to sustain themselves, while those with sons had greater chances of poverty. The reason being that when girls come here, they find the physical freedom they were not aware. With time, these young women make more for both themselves and their families. This is a widely spread analysis done by my people. If Thao’s mother understood that what she was doing was more important than cultural boundaries, it would have made it easier for Thao to appreciate her culture more.

I think what mostly makes immigrant children more prone to violence and bad things, is because the parents do not understand good from bad. In a new culture, everything is threatening. When the bilingual children try to explain themselves, the parents pull the “back home, ___ happened” card. It is true; every immigrant household uses scenarios from homeland to justify their demands and restrictions. As Thao said, “cultural differences can feel like two overlapping tectonic plates grinding against each other.” Moreover, what makes the native culture distasteful is the fact that you have to defend the American one. That is what we immigrants have to deal with; becoming lawyers should come easy to us because we all reside in courtrooms.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Thao’s story because it was revitalizing. I like reading about things that are sacred to other people, then try to find ways to connect it to my life. I think that every writing has a purpose, and that purpose is to take something from the author. If you find it that there is nothing worthy of taking, then know that is a reminder of something you already know. This to me was a reminder that we are all universally connected and that our differences are not as important as the stories we have to share.

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