Imagine living in a society that does not accept you and at the same time living in a culture that is familiar to you but “foreign” to everyone else. This is true for many Asian Americans who have immigrated to the United States. Some people have the option of leaving their homeland while others such as the Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laos, and Mien people were forced to leave in order to live.
People who choose to immigrate to the United States usually think about why they are leaving and at least maybe have some relatives living here.For the refugees, they often had to start completely on their own in a country where they cannot even speak the language. Once they are in the United States these immigrants must adjust to the new society. The transition from your homeland to another country is often a difficult one.
The Vietnam War sparked a new wave of Asian immigrants to the United States. Southeast Asians specifically were forced to flee during the war and after due to the fear of communism.Before they were allowed to settle in the United States the refugees were placed at refugee camps where they waited to be accepted for entry into the United States. At the camps they were taught English and basic skills.
From the camps, families or churches sponsored some refugees. Most refugees fled to the United States with very little assets or nothing at all. Many refugees had a strenuous time adjusting to the new society. Numerous amounts of people found it difficult to live their life as they did in their own country.
Once the Southeast Asian? had established themselves in this country they were faced with money and language problems as well as racism. Since in most Southeast Asian countries English is not taught in school, it was very hard for them to acquire good paying jobs because of their lack of communication skills. Therefore, their only choice was to take blue-collar jobs such as washing dishes for a restaurant. This led to a number of refugees living in poverty.
The refugees faced racism because once they were in the United States, a few programs were set up to help them adjust to the new society.Other people of color were angry that the government was helping the refugees find employment while there were still people who were citizens of the country who did not even have a job of their own. The trauma of the war and the act of fleeing from the country as well have contributed to the adjustment of the refugees to the United States. During the fleeing, families were split up due to the all the chaos.
A few family members died because of the rush to be included in one of the boats that were to take them to safety.Their circumstances in Asia are usually more disrupted and difficult the decision to leave frequently abrupt. Departures are often clandestine and journeys dangerous. In some cases, experiences are exceptionally traumatic, with associated long-term emotional difficulties.
Most arrive in the United States with relatively few belongings or assets and no ideas what their future may be. ” (Collier 69) I agree with this statement because I have spoken to a few children of parents who have had to go through this emotional trauma.Their parents have told me stories of ow it was difficult first to flee the country and then to adapt to the way of life in the United States. Upon their arrival to the United States, refugees who were sponsored by a church were usually picked up by them and taken to a place where they could live.
They were then enrolled in school and the father was given a job. Although the people from the churches helped the refugees, they still had problems adapting to the new society. ” Moving to a country where you cannot speak or understand the language and everything is new and strange to you can be troublesome.The following quote is from a girl whose life was disrupted by the war.
“Starting a new life with empty hands in a new world wasn? t easy for us. We had left everything my parents had worked hard and sweated for. In just one day, all of it was left behind or dumped in the ocean and then in our new world we had to start all over again from scratch. It was hard for us to adapt to the new environment” (Collier 77).
I agree with this statement because my friend’s family fled from Vietnam and they told me how hard it was for them to start a new life.When they came to the United States they were put on welfare, had to learn English, and had to face racism. Not knowing people where you relocate can create a difficulty. It helps to know people in the area you are relocating in because they can help you adjust to your new surroundings.
Unfortunately, many of the Southeast Asians did not know anyone here once they were settled. “Moreover, many earlier refugees did not have relatives already in the United States who could provide either assistance or an introduction to their new surroundings.Because there was no prior history of immigration from Southeast Asia, there were no existing communities that could serve as way points or sources of jobs, goods, and services” (Collier 69). This showed that the immigrants from Southeast Asia had no desire to live in the United States before the Vietnam War.
The fact that there were no earlier waves of Southeast Asian immigration leads to the conclusion that they would not have relatives in the Unites States prior to their arrival.Fam Linh Saechao is a 17 year old Mien girl who was born in a Thailand refugee camp to Laotian parents who in the early 1970’s had to flee the destruction that was brought upon by American and Vietnamese bombs. She is an example of how living in a country where your customs seem completely strange to others, but is considered normal in your culture can be hard. “Fam says she started learning how to cook and care for her four younger siblings when she was five.
Her cousin, Yien Wang Saechao, learned how to kill a chicken when she was twelve.She usually holds its wings while her mother slits its neck, then lets the blood drain out” (Chao A1). This quote suggests that the girl’s customs are very different from that of a Caucasian girl? s. This makes it hard for others not of Mien culture to understand their customs, therefore alienating them from certain social cliques.
The girls do not have anyone to turn to other than Mien friends and family. “They? re so alienated from their family because of society and so alienated from society because of their family” (Chao A1).This contributes to the fact that her family had to flee their country resulting in difficulty in the new society. Since there are very few Mien people here in the United States, Saechao feels the alienation from society because of the lack of knowledge of their people.
She also feels it from her family because they choose to continue their customs in a place that is strange to others. In conclusion the transition from one country to another is always a difficult one.Whether or not you already have relatives living in the country or if your education is at the same level as the competition, the adaptation to a new society will be difficult. Unlike other immigrants, the refugees from Southeast Asia had a totally different experience.
From the trauma during the actual fleeing from the country to living an impoverished life in the place that is supposed to be your refuge, the Southeast Asian immigrants adjusted to Western Society as well as they could.