May 23, 2012
In accordance to this week’s theme of culture, I think both presentations did a good job of presenting aspects of culture and identity within the Hmong community. Brenda and Hue presented their research topic on Shamanism and their three areas of focus which is the dominant culture’s impact, significance of religion to an individual, and critiques of the 1st and 2nd generation. Boon and Mai Moua presented their research topic on Hmong young in education and roles at home.
Although I am a Vietnamese American, I have strong understanding of the practice of Shamanism from my roommate who is Hmong and whose family practices Shamanism. My roommate, Samantha, is the daughter of a very strong Shaman so she has informed me with a lot of details of what her father does and what their practice is all about. I have also heard about certain rituals and know a great deal about the customs of the practice such as the paper that gets burned, to the clothing, and the instruments that are used during the actual rituals. Although I may have a good sense of the background information of Shamanism, I thought Brenda’s and Hue’s was very interesting and helpful because it deepened my knowledge about Shamanism and also brought new concerns that I was not aware about. I would like to start and say that I thought they did a very good, long, and informative presentation. The presentation had a lot of information and covered all aspects of the stated topics. I thought it was a very smart and organized to state three areas of focus on Shamanism because the practice can be such a broad topic to speak about. Brenda and Hue has a very strong understanding of their topic and had a lot of confidence within their presentation. I think they did a good job with their findings and research because there were of lot of societal connections and personal interviews that gave the class a good understanding of how Hmong people and others view the practice of Shamanism. I really enjoyed watching the personal interviews because it gave me the sense of how the perspectives of Shamanism within the 1st and also the 2nd generation. I was able to see that within the 1st generation the practice of Shamanism is still highly important and keeps traditional ties to the homeland. Although America has altered some parts of the traditional rituals, the 1st generation Hmong people still have belief to preserve their cultural practices. In a sense, being practicing Shamanism has a strong a lot of influence of being Hmong. Within the 2nd generation I saw that there were two different groups: the group that still believes in the importance of preserving the practice and the group that believes in the practice but does not intend maintain their Shaman beliefs. A question to consider is: What are the perspectives of the Hmong community in other cities that contain large Hmong population?
Mai Moua and Boon research topic on Hmong youth roles at home and in education brought a lot of attention and awareness to the customs of children and parent within traditional Hmong homes. I thought it was interesting to see that forms of punishment upon the children is a normalized and also a way of expressing care from parent to the child. Although the children are expected to go to school and do well, the children are also given the responsibility to carry on their duties at home such as providing or cleaning for the entire family. I thought it was also interesting to find out that male Hmong students in high education who are ASA major are more aware of the community problems and are likely to maintain roles back hom home. Do male Hmong students who are biological science majors also likely to continue with their roles at home? What are the common findings in your research that might explain this dual role mentality of the Hmong children?