Many of us came from our parents and our parents came from their parents and so on. Everyone must’ve came from somewhere in the world to get to the place that they are now. As time passes on, we can forget our cultural roots and traditions that has faded due to many reasons. Such as assimilation, none to very little exposure to our own cultural heritage, or/and untold/forgotten stories, values, folktales, and traditions.
Thankfully, we have many resources nowadays if we want to learn where our ancestors come from, where they live, and such. But the real reason why it’s important to know your own cultural background is because it has to do with your identity. It is about learning more about your ancestors and understanding that as an individual, you and everyone else all connect somehow and are a part of a bigger world.
For example, the struggles of our ancestors directly impacts us how we may live life or make decisions today because we learn from our right and wrong choices. Idealistically, people like to become more advanced/better over time and without our ancestors going through the challenges that we didn’t have to, our present lives was made easier by little factors.
Some people in your life like your parents, grandparents, and elderly relatives had to go through hard times to provide for their families and themselves. Whether it was giving up their own education to find a job, leaving their home country to emigrate to a different country, sacrificing their time to invest in their offspring, and shedding blood, sweat, and tears for the sake that everyone present today has a better life and more opportunities.
Also, it is thanks to our ancestors that today the world have so many different kinds of ethnic groups, languages, religions, civilizations, and intellectual knowledge about life, space, animals, and more. Our ancestors made some impact in the future where we can arguably say that we do live in a better world in some aspects.
There are many countries that the U.S. don’t share holidays with and it’s nice to know what we miss out on some of the great things people celebrate from all over the world. Here’s a list of cultural groups that have their own unique holidays.
1. Thailand – Songkran
One of the many celebrations of Songkran involves people splashing each other with water in the hot weather. “Part of the ritual was the cleaning of images of Buddha. Using the ‘blessed’ water that cleaned the images to soak other people is seen as a way of paying respect and bring good fortune.” – http://www.officeholidays.com/
2. Malaysia – Malaysia Day
The holiday day title is literally what the holiday stands for. The people of Malaysia celebrate the day “16 September 1963, when the former British colony of Singapore and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, joined to create the Federation of Malaysia” – http://www.officeholidays.com/. It’s for everyone to take pride of Malaysia and its historical events of the people and country gaining independence.
3. Japan (including other Asian countries) – Childerns’ Day
Yes, there is a national holiday to celebrate children with gifts, food, blessings, and wishes. Also, it is a time when parents pray for the best in health and success for their children.
4. Korea – Hanguel Day
In celebration of the development of Korean alphabets after the colonial rule of Japan. “King Sejong the Great who was the fourth monarch of the Joseon Dynasty, devised and proclaimed the Korean alphabet in the 15th century” – http://www.officeholidays.com/. Korea did not develop their own alphabets as early as other cultural groups due to strong influence of the Chinese and Japanese characters.
5. Indonesia (including other Asian countries) – Waisak Day
A national holiday made in name of Buddha’s birthday, death, and enlightenment. A ‘holy day’ for Buddhists monks and Buddhism believers that celebrates the life of Buddha. The holiday allows people to pray, receive or/give blessings, cleanse one soul and mind, make offerings, and display beautiful lights.
Whenever the end of the year is nearing, there are many traditions that the Hmong people have to do to welcome the new year. Instead of giving summaries to the many customs of the Hmong New Year, here some are links to outside resources that have great in-depth information about it:
Hmong New Year is first celebrated in the home then with the (last name) clan to the outside community. The Hmong welcome the new year by honoring their ancestors to receive their blessings from them, families, friends, and others for health, good luck, wealth, and a new beginning. It involves community gathering from young to elderly to feast, celebrate, and engage in fun activities.
According to www.mayoclinic.com, diarrhea is a “loose, watery stools that occur more frequently than usual”. In the old days, diarrhea was known to be able to cause death of people due to dehydration. But nowadays, it is a common health issue that is less threatening under normal conditions. Diarrhea could result because of many reasonings such as :
Expired food/food poisoning that may require your body to force out impurities and waste
Diet that could cause a imbalance in your digestive system
Medications/surgery/bacteria/virus/sickness/parasites that may cause you to have diarrhea as a side effect
Here are the symptoms of diarrhea:
Experience of multiple of watery loose stools (little waste to water)
Fever usually can accompany it or/and cause it to occur more
At this point, diarrhea would eventually go away in a day. If the symptoms worsen and last to the second day such as:
Blood in stool
Fever with high body temperature of 102 F (39 C)
Make sure to contact for emergency help because it could be serious concern. Afterwards, remember to monitor what you eat after experiencing diarrhea so that it doesn’t reoccur. If you had mild diarrhea, drink water/sports water (contain salt and sugar, which your body flushed out) and snack or have smaller meals. If you had mild to severe diarrhea, make sure to drink water little by little and stick to a bland diet that contains no dairy, alcohol, high food saturated, artificial flavors/food dye, non-processed, non-organic, and hard to digest food.
The most common type of heart disease in the U.S. is coronary artery disease where cholesterol leaves deposit of plaque and it contributes to plaque build up over a period of time. Most people don’t know that they may have this disease unless there is a heart attack or possible early signs.
Being aware of the symptoms can give people more information on how to identify if they may have this heart disease:
Chest pain that could frequently occur in your upper body and back
Short breaths where your body is leaving lacking oxygen due to the slow or very little blood flow from your heart
Heart attack which means that your arteries are blocked and cause your body to be deprived of oxygen
Call for emergency help if you think that you may be experiencing some of these symptoms. So what can cause this heart disease or add more stress to the heart:
Lifestyle/diet is a huge factor that affects your body. If people are not active enough or/and have a bad diet, they are more likely to develop heart diseases.
Smoking/drugs that could another stress to the heart and affect other organs besides your heart like the lungs, stomach, liver, and more.
Diabetes or insulin resistance
High blood pressure that may be genetics, kidney problems, thyroid problems
Source: Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2014). Monitoring the Future national survey results on adolescent drug use, 1975-2013: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan.
Over the last 40 years, the use of tobacco has steadily decreased due to many enforcement of laws, regulations, government and local support, and established health awareness programs. But the concern is now focused on teens and adults who are still buying and using tobacco in different forms. Once someone has used tobacco, they could eventually or become immediately addicted to nicotine.
So what are the trends of using tobacco besides smoking tobacco:
Oral tobacco products that dissolves in the user’s mouth; they still contain tobacco properties that puts the user’s health at risk and they can come in different forms and flavors.
Hookah is a mouth piece smoking pipe that is commonly popular among teens and is used among groups where they pass it on to each other. Not only is it not sanitary of bodily fluids, it is technically like smoking a cigarette where the toxins are released and inhaled into the body.
Smokeless tobacco is in the form where tobacco can be sniffed and chewed. “For smokeless tobacco use, the highest rates of initiation are in the seventh through 11th grades. Although approximately equal proportions of male and female adolescents smoke cigarettes, users of smokeless tobacco products are nearly all males.” – http://www.hhs.gov/
E-cigarette is a cigarette that can be used electronically to vaporized a liquid that gives off the feeling that one is smoking tobacco. Although e-cigarettes has no tobacco, they still contain nicotine.
Sometimes, people don’t understand the consequences of using tobacco. The fact that tobacco was scientifically proven to lead to other cancer diseases and cause the user to have other health related problems is already a concern. We can’t stop the production of tobacco, but at least try to educate the public what tobacco can do to the body.
Increases the risk of almost every organ disease such as the mouth, bladder, stomach, lung, heart, kidney, and more.
Worsen asthma symptoms
Nicotine is scientifically proven to be a addictive stimulant and can cause people to rely on it for temporarily relaxation
Affects the body’s sexual, thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal hormones
Affects the production and sensitivity of insulin that could lead to type 2 diabetes and other potential health issues
Trying to quit smoking tobacco can cause physical reactions such as strong cravings for the substance, an increased appetite, insomnia and sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal problems and mood-related complaints including anxiety, anger and frustration, depression, irritability and restlessness. – [source: MayoClinic]” – http://science.howstuffworks.com
So before using tobacco in any way of any form, think about how it could affect you, your body, and your health in the long term.
According to www.cdc.gov, obesity and/or overweight are labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height.
So what exactly can contribute to obesity within people? Here is the quick guide about what factors that may be lead to obesity.
The way we live affects our body’s health and it can sometimes show through our weight, skin, eyes, hair, and more. If we tend to have little physical activities it will or may become a habit. Or it could be the choices of foods or our eating habit. It could cause a problem with our body because there is an unbalance between intake of calories and output of energy. So balance is the very key to keeping our body healthy so that our body doesn’t take in more calories than needed for our daily activities.
Genetics can be a reason why some people have more difficult time maintaining their weight or was born and struggled with being over-weighted. Having a family history in obesity can be concern and often times, it could lead to other health related problems; therefore, one should consult with their doctor for any weight concerns and questions.
Sometimes, there are things that we take in or do that may affect our body. For example, a taking a type of drug or medicine could increase or decrease your weight. If you are on a form of birth control or using a drug for something, it is required to consult with your doctor because no one knows entirely how it may affect your body.
Depending on where we live, our surrounding environment is one of the main factors that affects our physical activities. For example, one person may live in a neighborhood that does not have proper walking conditions and no walking or bicycling trails nearby. It could be a possibly reason why they would avoid going outside or not being as motivated to be more active in their environment. So our environment does an impact on how we chose to be more active and interact with out surroundings.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census the eight largest Asian American populations in Minnesota are the Hmong, Asian Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino, Laotian, and Cambodian community. Specifically, 27 percent of the total population identify themselves as Hmong, 15.5 percent are Asian Indian, 11.7 percent are Chinese, 11.1 percent are Vietnamese, 4.9 percent are Laotians, and 3.9 percent are Cambodians (See Figure 2).
Minnesota is home to over 40 different Asian Pacific Minnesotan immigrant and refugee communities. Each community has its own strengths and challenges that may be unique to that ethnic community. The following is an overview of how the Laotian community is faring in Minnesota.
Following a similar path as other AAPI refugees displaced by the Vietnam War, the Laotian community arrived in Minnesota in the late 1970s and 1980s to rebuild their lives.[i] Approximately 12,000 Laotians live in mostly urban counties in the Twin Cities and earn a median income of $40,000, which is the lowest income range among all eight AAPI ethnic communities. Laotian Americans have high unemployment rates at 12.7 percent. Over 40 percent of the Laotian population earned less than a high school diploma.i APA ComMNet REACH CORE project staff and volunteers met with Laotian American community members and leaders throughout the Twin Cities to understand the community’s strengths, challenges and other social and environmental factors affecting its overall health and wellbeing.
Laotian American Community Strengths
Laotian Americans who participated in this project stated that their strong family and community connections are important in improving the health and wellbeing of their community. Family members rely on each other for support and often visit with one another to talk about issues affecting their family or community. Sunny Chanthanouvong, Executive Director of the Lao Assistance Center, stated in his key informant interview that health information is usually spread using family and community network. Knowledge about diseases and preventive health practices are often communicated through storytelling and discussions during small get-togethers or at large community events. “We talk about sickness and health, we talk about the need for people to get exercise and eat healthy,” said Sunny Chanthanouvong who added that good as well as bad experiences of community members when dealing with health issues are often shared with one another.
Laotian American Community Challenges
Laotian Americans indicated that many in their community live in distressed neighborhoods and physical exercise as well as healthy eating habits may sometimes be difficult for members of the community. Due to their relatively recent introduction to the American health care system, some Laotian Americans may not be familiar with preventive practices to deter diseases or how certain disease can spread through different channels. Sunny Chanthanouvong explained how his organization attempts to educate Laotian Americans on flu prevention.
“It’s very important to help the community to truly understand the concept – where it’s coming from. People say that you have to save money for retirement, but what does that really mean? When there’s flu going around, they tell us, wash your hands to keep flu away but they still shake hands with someone who is sick. There is something behind just washing the hands, you have to tell the purpose for it, it’s not going to help much…we need deeper education.”
– Sunny Chanthanouvong, Executive Director of the Lao Assistance Center on educating the Lao American community about infectious diseases
In addition, APA ComMNet Health survey results show that the Laotian American community exhibited high tobacco use with nearly 30 percent of Laotian Americans stating that they frequently smoked cigarettes (Figure 3). Anecdotally, Laotian Americans also indicated that alcohol use was prevalent in the community especially during family and community celebrations despite the lack of evidence from this study affirming this notion. Laotian Americans added that smoking and drinking are common practices in Laos and young Laotian Americans who were raised in the U.S. often see their parents drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes leading many Laotian American youth to believe that such behaviors are normal and adopt their parents’ addictive habits as their own.
[i] Minnesota Historical Society, 2013. “Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees.” St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society. Retrieved January 8, 2013 (http://education.mnhs.org/immigration/)