A future that speaks
January 28, 2022
During her first year in the U.S., 7-year-old Mang Si struggled with the English language and did not fully understand school rules when she first arrived.
This resulted in disciplinary actions at school, such as minutes taken off her recess times.
‘‘I did not know what the teacher was saying,” Si said. “I would get in trouble not knowing why because I did not understand the language.’’ Now in her freshman year, Si fully understands English. But, outside of the language, Si also sees differences in the way Americans communicate with each other.
She says that she was not used to American youth speaking casually with parents and calling non-family adults by their first name.
She was more used to calling her parents’ friends ‘‘aunty’’ or ‘‘uncle’’ out of respect.
Si also works to balance the two different cultures in her life with the clothing she wears. She will usually wear her traditional Chin dress to church, which reminds her of her homeland.
She takes part in Chin National Day, which incorporates traditional clothing, dances and food, in order to learn more about her culture.
‘‘I’m proud of my culture, and I love showing my culture to other people,’’ Si said.
Although Si was able to learn English in elementary school, she still tries to use her native languages, Hakha and Zophei, in different environments.
She speaks English at school, but when she’s with friends or at home, she often speaks her native languages. To Si, being able to speak her home language is very important in keeping her roots alive.
‘‘We’re the future of our culture,’’ Si said. “If we don’t know how to speak our language and forget about our culture, our culture is not going to survive anymore.’’