By Roger Adhikari special to www.nepal24hours.com:
Each immigrant community faces dilemma between maintaining the culture and value of their native country and assimilating in the adopted land. As a country of immigrants, America has witnessed hundreds of ethnic groups joining the invisible melting pot in over five hundred years of its history.
Until several decades ago, almost all of the immigrants in America hailed from Europe and had a shared Caucasian race. Yet, many of these people went through a similar soul searching and conflict between maintaining cultural identity by remaining within own kind or joining the melting pot. The recent immigrants from South America and Asia are facing a similar conundrum.
Despite reservations in the beginning, today, Americans of European descent are the single most fully integrated groups, and most successful in America.
In the last several decades, the Nepalis population has grown exponentially in America. Although, most of us are concentrated in Large Cities, it’s not unusual to find some in as remote part of the country as Idaho and Wyoming.
As we are growing in number, like the previous ethnic groups, we too are facing a similar conflict between joining the melting pot or remain outside. As much as remaining outside feels natural, one must join the chorus if one has to be part of the music. That doesn’t necessarily mean Nepalis have to become part of the melting pot and loose Nepali character, we can integrate without losing our uniqueness.
Therefore, while the melting pot may have been correctly applied for the European immigrants, the “Salad bowl metaphor, probably, is a more appropriate expression for us. Unlike the melting pot, where everything is melted down to one, in salad bowl, each ingredient maintains its uniqueness, yet remains part of the big bowl.
History has proven that the integration (joining the salad bowl) is directly connected to the pace of the success. Many people find difficulty identifying the characters of integration; meaning, don’t know what one thing they must do to integrate?
There is no single attributes or formula for integration. It’s rather an idea of joining the main stream, such as, developing friendship beyond your own ethnic group, participating/volunteering in socio/civic activities, engaging children in sports activities and encouraging them to develop friendship with other than own kind, supporting community causes; charitable or otherwise, running for political office and so on.
In order to be successful and recognized in new homeland, the Nepali community and hundreds of Nepali organizations across America must look activities beyond its own group and culture, and help integrate Nepali community in America by encouraging them to become part of the mainstream.
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