Just when you think . . .
Just when you think you “know everything,” someone comes along and says “did you know that . . .” This happened while presenting a seminar. I was given a newspaper article about a young Hmong women living in Wisconsin.
Her family history . . .
She was a young child when her family escaped from their small village in Laos due to military attacks. She spent the next several years in a refugee camp in Thailand. After arriving in Wisconsin, her parents worked in a variety of settings. Her siblings did well in elementary school, but found middle school difficult due to the prejudicial remarks from other students. In high school her life changed.
Her father . . .
- Took a second wife & traveled between the two families (men may have multiple wives)
- She and her siblings were expected to attend the wedding ceremony
- Her mother was required to serve as the maid of honor
And then . . .
At the age of 17 she was casually date a young Hmong man. One particular evening she went to his home. She was met at the door by a relative, holding a chicken and chanting a song. She realized a Hmong wedding was about to begin and she was the “captured” bride. While she was shocked, she acknowledged and accepted this cultural practice. Today, she is still married and has four daughters. She continued her education, and is the first in her family to graduate from college.
The take home message . . . Never assume that one’s cultural values, beliefs & traditions are “left behind” when one immigrates . . . even years later!