The Hmong And American Immigrant Experience

1014 words - 4 pages

Ever wonder how life is being an immigrant living in the US? Or the types of events that occur as an immigrant converts into being an American? This book, I Begin My Life All Over: The Hmong and the American Immigrant Experience by Lillian Faderman with Ghia Xiong, is about the ending life as a Hmong leading into becoming an American. It discusses the experiences that thirty-six real life people go through in life as they become Americans. The book is divided into two parts. The first section, The End of a Way of Life, discusses the type of village lived in, how the escape came about and the various camps that were set up for those who escaped. The second section, Becoming American, was about the arrival into America, the various religions and medical aids, the daily duties of women and men, the conflicts of equality between the various generations, the "gangs," and the life of being an American. Each section contains short explanations of various Hmongs to the events experienced during their life of becoming an American. Village life isn't as pleasant as it is in America. Hmong life changed very little throughout generations. A simple description of a Hmong home would be: the roof was made of materials such as elephant grass or palm leaves, the sides were of shingles or split bamboo, and the floors were "hard-stomped dirt" which wood fires could be made to cook. As many as twenty people, lived in a home of not more than a thousand square feet. Almost all the people able to do labor work worked in the farm. Occasionally one child, usually being a boy, would be sent to school so that at least one person in the family would be literate. The traditional religion as a Hmong would be shamanism. Shamanism is understood to be both a belief system and a health system. Village life for Hmongs remained very stable throughout the years, but it was thrown away and lost its existence as the result of great slaughter. Not everybody feels safe after a victory. Even those who fought against the Communists didn't feel safe after the victory. Communists claimed to only want to convert Hmongs to Communism. Nevertheless, some Hmongs knew that the Communists planned to do something else. Instead, they'd take over their trust and reveal the identity of the soldiers. Those who didn't convert tried escaping in groups of men or women or even just families. They'd go days, weeks, months, or even years traveling through jungles and trying to survive by what they could get from the jungle (vegetation, bugs, lizards). For those that survived the escape they traveled into Thailand, but were later moved to relocation camps. There were twenty-one relocation camps established. These camps weren't only for Hmongs, but also for the thousands fleeing. Some remained in the relocation camps for years, until there was an arrangement to go to Canada, France, Australia, South America, or the United States; places that would accept refugees.Seeing what America provided...

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