Challenges arise when navigating between two cultures

Anmol Mahal, Staff Writer

Many Bear Creek students come from two distinct cultures and for some there is a wide gap in the ideals of the cultures.  However students have found ways to adjust to the differences in the two cultures and “make it work.”

Those who come from very traditional and conservative cultures say they have more freedom when it comes to speaking their minds at school rather than at home.  At home, they live by the creed “what my parents say goes.”

This generation has been exposed to a lot of diversity so they are more accepting than their parents who are not always so accepting of those from other cultures or those who think differently than they.  Asian parents often expect their children to be very respectful to their elders and to respect the decisions that they make for them.

“At home I can’t really say anything; whatever my parents decide is the final decision,” senior Jaspreet Nijjar said.

But many students say that they have been able to balance the two cultures because they understand the limit of what their parents expect so they make adjusts in their behavior, especially at home.  For example, many girls are more reserved at home and they rarely voice their opinion in contrast to how they can be at school.

“I am really well behaved at home and I am much more respectful, whereas when I’m at school I am more spontaneous,” junior Stephanie Lao, who is Hmong, said.

Being at school allows students to voice their opinions and take a stand for what they believe.  At school, the environment is set up so that students have a chance to have their opinion heard whereas at home they keep their opinions to themselves.

“When I get home I am expected to do a lot of the chores and I have to help out around the house more than my brothers,” senior Chong Thao, who is also Hmong, said.

Many girls agree that at home they are expected to more quiet and reserved, never talking back, and always agreeing with everything their parents say.  School is a place where they feel independent and empowered.

However being able to live in two cultures gives students advantages such as knowing a second language and being able to see certain things from two different perspectives.  Some students say that they have learned from their parents to evaluate their decisions and think about the consequences of their actions

“My parents were raised a certain way and so they want to raise me that way too,” junior Mustafa Khan, who is Fijian, said. “I understand where they are coming from but I try to explain my side to them too.”

Junior May Simpson, who is Chinese, says that she has experienced the difference in the culture right in her house because she has to explain what her white stepfather is saying to her Chinese mother.  Simpson says she has seen a difference in the Chinese and American culture and how people act around others.

“I feel like there is this bond that [is lacking] in the American culture,” Simpson said. “It’s harder to approach a stranger and say hi because people become uncomfortable whereas in Chinese culture people are willing to talk to you.”

Senior Stephanie Toro says she is grateful for her Latino background, which she says has made it easier for her to make friends.

“I don’t know where I would be without my family,” Toro said. “At school I am a little more reserved and polite than I am at home sometimes, but it isn’t that big of a difference.”

There are some adjustments students have to make between their two worlds but they make it work. Being able to experience two very different culture allows students to gain a unique perspective on life.