My family's culture

Feb 12, 2016
by: tsaeteurn

My family happened to be pretty cultural. Growing up I was in ceremonies and I remember every time we had one, it would seem that every mien person would be there. Being mien or more formal way of saying it “Iu Mien” our historical background it difficult. We originated in China to Vietnam. But because of reasons like socio-economics, we migrated to Laos and Thailand. We were also involved in the CIA’s “Secret War” (1955-1974) to prevent weapon smuggling into Vietnam during the Vietnam War. After that, many families were forced to seek refuge in neighboring countries like Thailand. When the camps resources became scarce, the U.S as well as other western countries decided to take the Mien in as refugees. And that is were my parents came from. It is hard for us because we struggle with having loss of language, culture and lack of Identity.

We still have communities spread mainly through the western United States that try to keep our cultural grounded with longevity. Because my family comes from Laos we have a lot of similarities with the Hmong. We would do ceremonies were we would behead chickens and pluck their feathers to offer to the spirits. The shaman (commonly male) would have his symbolic hand-stitched attire on and cypher the ritual. We would then make special stamps on specific paper that represents currency in the afterlife and then burn them as an offering to our ancestors. I remember wearing a cap with these symbolic accents just like on the picture of the book THE SPIRIT CATCHES YOU AND YOU FALL DOWN.

When reading the book it felt very relatable. My parents were illiterate. Lucky they were still a young so they had the opportunity to develop in school here. But that doesn't mean it was hard for them. They dealt with the language barrier so they know how it feels. It blew my mind when the book showcased epilepsy because my sister had dealt with seizures. It just came all around and I just have a deeper connection with this book when I read it. Ms. Forbes, I am pretty sure you remember my sister during parent night. She read the book as well and she loves it.


I can also relate with her

Submitted by gsaturno on Wed, 2016-02-24 13:48.

I can also relate with her family somewhat because my parents also immigrated here, and they also practice religious ceremonies such as getting baptized.

It really sucks that

Submitted by kruss on Wed, 2016-03-02 23:56.

It really sucks that sometimes through war ad other outside forces cultures get lost. It is truly sad to me. That could have been something beautiful and amazing but we can never know the full story. People's identities really come from the culture they grew up in so props to Mien people.

Beautiful Connection

Submitted by tewilliams on Mon, 2016-03-07 03:56.

I find it evidently wonderful how you can connect the book, a similar culture to your family's life. Its hard coming into the United States with barriers. Thank you for sharing a story as such