Factors contributing to Hmong university students' academic success and failure: a perspective from parents and students





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Traditionally and culturally, the Hmong valued formal education highly as an open door to economic stability and higher social status, but historically, they have never had the opportunity to truly live out their educational values. Today, the Hmong are living in the greatest country on earth, the United States of America, where they have found the opportunities to live out their dreams and hopes. Adjusting from preliterate culture to modernization and technological and industrial culture is a big challenge the Hmong are facing in their adopted country. As parents are adapting to new cultures in America, they felt they also needed to preserve their traditional cultures. They are living in two contrasted worlds. As result, parents are slowly assimilated into mainstream society, and children are growing up in between two worlds. Children are inheriting Hmong cultural values by reinforcement of traditional practices at home and learn about American values and cultures in school. In fact, schools have functioned as major agents of assimilation for Hmong children. Many Hmong adults having difficulty in assimilating to American mainstream culture because they are lacking English skills and have only minimal formal educational background. They have no hope to be successful educationally and economically. However, they appreciate the educational opportunities their children receive in America and want them to become educated, because education, especially higher education, is the only means to ensure their future economic security. In order to reach their dreams, Hmong parents and children have to pay a heavy price for their journey to educational and economic successes. I hope that by hearing their struggles and experiences will help us get an insight of the whole story.

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