Being Raised in the Hmong Culture
I would like to share a short series of articles highlighting our GNPI staff members who have learned the importance of cultural relevance by living in a different culture themselves. They have gained new perspectives which they apply to the ministry in practical and valuable ways.
Pa See Caby began working in digital asset management as a college student and a new believer. After she finished her degree in Communications from Pittsburg State University, she gradually took on more responsibility in our office. Now Pa See works as our creative graphic designer. We appreciate her talent, work ethic, and respectful attitude. (Click on the names to see the other articles in this series by Angie Anderson and Greg Fish.)
By Pa See Caby, creative graphic designer at GNPI
My siblings and I grew up in a Hmong household, but outside our home there was an American world. Two cultures collided with different values. Although growing up this way had some disadvantages, it also had advantages. In college I realized that my upbringing allowed me to relate well with immigrants.
During my first year of college, I met two Muslim sisters from Pakistan. They were new immigrants who left their country with the hope of a better future in the United States. We bonded over our love of Bollywood films and identified with one another’s values.
In the duration of the year, the sisters became engaged. One fell in love, and the other sister confided in me that her engagement was an arranged marriage to a guy she had never met. She was worried, but she wasn’t worried for herself. She was concerned about my reaction to her engagement. The photo above shows the sisters and me at the arranged marriage. It was a joyful time, but they wanted to protect their identities.
It wasn’t strange at all for me. In the Hmong community, although it is becoming more rare, arranged marriages still happen. She was surprised by my reaction because she had been worried that people would look at her in horror instead of rejoice with her. Even though it’s unfamiliar to most people in the US, she has been happy in her marriage, and I am glad for this family.
If I hadn’t grown up in a different culture, I wouldn’t have been able to see it from her perspective. Cultural relevance is extremely important. Thank God for our differences because they can provide timely opportunities to show understanding and God’s grace to others.