Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ricky Lai
ASA 150E
Week 8
                                                                                Culture and Identity

                The first group of presenters for this week’s topic of Culture and Identity did well to find/connect Hmong shamanism to Western media. The presentation itself could’ve run much smoother considering that they were having issues with playing their video. I also found it distracting that they had to fast forward through parts to present different areas of the episode without really explaining why we were seeing the particular scene Despite these drawbacks, I could tell the presenters knew what they were speaking about and had extensive knowledge on the topic of Hmong Shamanism. On an unrelated note, I appreciated the fact that the writers of the episode made it clear in the end that western medicine isn’t the end-all-be-all for medical treatment.

                I also liked the video showing various students and community members speaking about Hmong shamanism. As a Vietnamese-American with little knowledge on Hmong, Laos, Cambodian, and Mien culture, I appreciated seeing other people with various opinions speaking on the topic of shamanism. I also found it very thought-provoking to consider how Western influence has, to some degree, corrupted shamanism due to shamans performing their services for money. Unfortunately, I believe that this group relied too heavily on their videos and did not do enough presenting of the topic. Their presentation also ran longer than expected, causing delays for the other presenters and a shortened lecture by Professor Valverde.
               The second group of presenters presented on the topic of Hmong youth. I enjoyed this 
presentation because the problems Hmong youth face relate to the problems that all Asian youth face. Although the presentation was about Hmong youth, I believe that all Asian American youth face the issue of having a “dual identity”. The notion of having a dual identity or becoming acculturated to Western society while being reared in traditional households is a problem many of us can relate to. I found it highly intriguing that Boon and Mai tied in cartoons like “The Fairly Odd-Parents” and “Pokemon” to suggest that the media makes it easier for children to rebel since these cartoons don’t really portray any sort of family hierarchy with their parents. I realized that this problem isn’t related just to cartoons, but also to live-action shows on Nickelodeon such as “I-Carly”. It makes me wonder if these shows really do play a significant role in causing rebelliousness in our Asian American youth. My question is, should the presenters have limited the topic to only Hmong youth? This topic seems to encompass a large majority of Asian Americans as a whole, not just Hmong children.

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