Cambodian Refugees' Pathways to Success: Developing a Bi-Cultural Identity

Cambodian Refugees' Pathways to Success: Developing a Bi-Cultural Identity

Cambodian Refugees' Pathways to Success: Developing a Bi-Cultural Identity

Cambodian Refugees' Pathways to Success: Developing a Bi-Cultural Identity

Synopsis

Buddist values inspire Cambodian adults and adolescents to be successful individuals within their families, culture, and American society. Studying a Cambodian community in a New England city over a nine-year period, Canniff maintains that individuals who sustain strong cultural identity, while adding pragmatic strategies for getting ahead, are consistently the most successful. The grandparents and parents in this study teach that a fulfilling life is balanced between respect and generosity to the family and Cambodian community and obligations to school and career. Adolescents cling to this concept of balance and frequently choose a less stressful school and career path in order to honor their cultural obligations. "...a well-honed book of interest to scholars and students specializing in ethnic studies, immigration history, religious studies, and U.S. multicultural studies" -- Sucheng Chan, University of California, Santa Barbara

Excerpt

Spring is a holy season for people all over the planet. For people in northern latitudes it represents the return of the light and life from the austere, cold death of the winter. For people in equatorial latitudes, it represents the end of the monsoons which flood the rich alluvial shore land. It is the time to begin again the cycle of planting and fertility. It is no wonder that human beings have created potent rituals of celebration the intent of which are to renew vows of generosity, compassion, and diligence to be followed in the year ahead.

The month of April is when Cambodian Buddhists celebrate the New Year, reenacting a time when this ancient culture flourished in the center of Angkor Thom where Kambuja princes lived surrounded by Hindu gods. Cambodian dance and music are integral to the New Year’s celebration. To the celebrants they represent the phenomenology of the Cambodian universe and blend the cultural epistemologies of Hinduism and Buddhism. At the New Year the pageants of the royal court are reenacted once again and the dancers become the embodiment of metaphysical Devas, souls who have evolved beyond this earthly existence. in rituals as old as the culture, the monks chant the wisdom of Lord Buddha and reestablish the universal balance as another year begins.

In Cambodian enclaves all over the United States, Khmer families celebrate this festival even as they adapt its forms to their new context.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.