May 22, 2012
The article and presentation on Hmong Shamanism was able to provide more in depth information about the tradition. I am Hmong myself and I only know the general concepts of shamanism and from what I have seen growing up. It was good how they presented a section on the media’s portrayal of this Hmong tradition because it shows how it is often exaggerated and sometimes their portrayal is not even close. For example, they mentioned the film, “Gran Torino”, and the depiction of what the Hmong culture is. Towards the end of the film where they were attending the funeral service of the white neighbor, the film showed the actors wearing traditional Hmong clothes to the funeral service. In reality, this does not happen because we wear American clothes even when attending funeral services. Usually, the only person wearing the Hmong clothes would be the person who has passed because it is the traditional outfit that each person would wear with their passing.
Also, the discussion on the clash between sticking to traditional or converting to Christianity or other religions and sticking to Western medicine was something that I can relate to. I always see religious people who try to convert my family and I to their religion but we do not because we think that our tradition is more helpful in comparison to western medicine. I have been through the shamanism procedure and have felt that I have benefitted more than Western medicine. I have been suffering with headaches and migraines since middle school and every time I go to the doctor, they would just give me medications to take but because they do not help, I stop taking the medications and I stop going to the doctors. Just recently, I went to Colorado to visit my aunt and she had a shaman do a ritual ceremony to see what caused my headaches and migraines. The shaman said that when I was younger, I somehow met or passed a bad spirit and that is what has been causing it so he performed a ritual ceremony to rid of it and since then my headaches and migraines have decreased but still occurs. The reading provided more specific details as to what actually happens during the ritual and what the shaman has to encounter.
In the second presentation on Hmong culture and identity, they provided the reading by Kaiser which discusses the parenting styles of Hmong parents and whether or not they are effective. This is also something that I can relate to because I see many parents who struggle to make their children obey them because of the American society and the media. Hmong children think that their parents are so strict and mean because they are not allowed to go hang out with friends but the real reason is because parents do not want their children to encounter the many dangers that are outside of the home. Hmong parents lecture their kids every time they do something wrong and for the Hmong American children, they see this as something that puts them down but like the quote from the presentation stated, the moment they stop lecturing them is when they stop caring. The media plays a big role in influencing the beliefs of the children and this causes their behavior to be reflected of the media and not of their parents. The presentation overall was okay but it seems sort of unorganized because the presenters were sort of rocky when explaining the article so it seems like they do not have a clear understanding of the article itself. In conclusion, a question would be, what advice would you give Hmong American children in order to find a balance between both the very different cultures?