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Old 03-18-2014, 10:50 PM
Location: East coast
613 posts, read 1,170,132 times
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Is it just my impression but it seems that it is the case relative to other immigrant communities.

Then again, China and India are the two largest countries and also have the two largest diasporic communities overseas (both communities are the populations of mid-sized countries) so perhaps one of the reasons they are able to keep their culture more is that there is more continuous migration from a large pool even as each generation assimilates to their host country.
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Old 03-18-2014, 11:27 PM
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I think Chinese tend to cling to their own culture a lot more than others, including Indians, at least where I live (San Francisco). You honestly don't need to know any English if you are Chinese here.
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Old 03-19-2014, 03:17 AM
Location: Metro Phoenix
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Originally Posted by bmw335xi View Post
I think Chinese tend to cling to their own culture a lot more than others, including Indians, at least where I live (San Francisco). You honestly don't need to know any English if you are Chinese here.
Hm. I think that it can certainly seem that way in the Bay Area, because you do have a huge Chinatown, plus areas like the Sunset and Clement, to say nothing of swaths of Daly City, Oakland, etc which are heavily Chinese and have a lot of immigrants. But at the same time, plenty of Chinese immigrants, to say nothing of the Chinese-Americans who were born and raised in the area, have integrated into local society quite well and you see them live all over the place, hold jobs and socialize outside the community. They also date and marry outside their own culture a great deal more than Indians in the Bay Area do.

I think that the area that they're in has a huge amount to do with it... a Chinese person who moves to El Monte in LA or to SF's Chinatown has less of an incentive to integrate because they can easily meet people from back home, work in Chinese-owned businesses that cater to the Chinese community, etc. The same could be said of an Indian person who moves to Silicon Valley, or parts of NY and NJ. Now, if a Chinese person moves to, say, a smaller city in Washington State or Ohio, they may be one of if not the only Chinese person in that area save for any family who comes with them. They're probably more likely to integrate simply because if they don't, they won't have anyone to socialize with; at the very least, their kids will grow up being the only Chinese kid in class, and thus grow up with primarily non-Chinese friends and be more Americanized by virtue of being here.

As far as "clinging to the culture" goes, you can cling to a culture while still integrating fairly well into another. I'm adopting Chinese social mores and behaviors here in China at the same time that I learn the language, because I'm planning on being here a bit... but, while I definitely love me some street noodles and a bottle of Pearl River Beer sometimes, my shelves at home are still stocked with stuff to make tacos, pasta, mac & cheese, veggie burgers, stuff like that. I listen to Western rock and electronic, and follow American politics. You can take the man out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the man

Versus an immigrant from, say, Germany or England, I think that yes, the Chinese and Indians do tend to cling more to their cultures, but that's mainly because they're so much more diametrically different from American culture than German or English culture is. It's hard to spend most of your life in one culture, then move and say, "you know what? I'm just going to say 'goodbye' to everything I've ever learned of life and do it like they do here 100% of the time." American culture is much more individualistic than India or China, which have a much greater emphasis on community; going from one to the other can be fairly jarring, and you may never get comfortable with it.
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Old 03-19-2014, 04:58 AM
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I think the choice of the word "cling" already tips the inquiry in a negative direction against Chinese and Indian immigrants. Clinging is considered a sign of weakness, fear, etc.

I have known and worked with many, many well-educated Chinese and Koreans in NYC, as well a good number who had the equivalent of a high school education. Each of them exhibited American characteristics and ones that seemed clearly to be those derived from the Chinese or Korean cultures. Two people I worked with closely, one a Chinese atheist and the other a Korean Protestant, both of whom spoke frequently and eloquently of those values in their cultures that they felt were fundamental to building character and morality, and were superior to the ethical and moral ethos of the U.S. Both of these men lived in middle class non-Asian neighborhoods.

A young woman whom I rode home with on the city bus lived in the Manhattan Chinatown, and I lived just above it, so we had lots of conversations. Her life gravitated around her Chinese family and neighbors (and she spoke mainly Chinese at home), and family celebrations, births, deaths, etc. revolved around Buddhist and Daoist ceremonies and institutions. None of this prevented youngsters in the family from getting a typical American public school education, pledging allegiance to the U.S. flag, etc. and all those things that a surely typical for we Americans. On the other hand, these same children were taught Chinese, learned about Confucius and his writings, etc.

Judging from the great success that the many Chinese (and Korean and Vietnamese) that I worked with enjoyed, be they bookkeepers, systems analysts or directors of a large computer center they seem to have suffered no harm from keeping a firm grasp on their previous cultural heritage, and, quite frankly, in the mental health category they were head and shoulders above the carping, whining, problem-beset American born employees whose tales of personal tragedy and first world misery it was my lot to have to listen to.

I remained very impressed by the Chinese I met in the four plus decades I lived in NYC. At whatever socio-economic level they functioned their traditional values seemed to be very useful to them.

If you want to see "clingers," you should see the Brits who settle here in Portugal.......unbelievable. The Brits are in the habit of constantly denouncing the "Pakies" (Pakistanis) who settle in the U.K. for not giving up their culture and integrating. A few years ago, in a neighboring town, a group of Brit expats were having a carping fest about all that is wrong with Portugal, when a customer turned on them and said, "You know what you are? You are our Pakies. You don't speak the language, you don't eat the food, you huddle together in your own neighborhoods, you go to your own clubs, you go to your own schools, you go to your own churches....you are nothing but a bunch of d*mned Pakies!"

But I'm sure these Brits didn't see themselves as "clinging." (And must have been horrified to be compared to "Pakies") After all, weren't they really just holding on to what was the best in the world? My impression, both from personal experience and hearsay, is that the Brits and the Americans are the biggest clingers going when they settle outside their own countries.
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Old 03-19-2014, 07:27 AM
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What's wrong with "clinging" to the language of a rising superpower? You would be stupid to forget it. There are lots of people paying good money to learn Chinese. In and around Boston ad Cambridge, the public schools are offering Mandarin classes to little kids....
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Old 03-19-2014, 07:36 AM
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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I think they're just larger and more visible, and much replenished by continuous immigration, whereas the German community is less so. I find Indians integrate even less than Chinese, Vietnamese too, but they're more first generation.
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Old 03-19-2014, 08:28 AM
Location: East Coast of the United States
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The thing is that Indians immigrate to the United States primarily for one reason: to make a lot of money and have a higher standard of living.

Most Indians have no intention of giving up their cultural heritage (which goes back thousands of years) because that is not what motivated them to come to the U.S. in the first place.

Being rich in America has little to do with how well you fit in with American culture. There is even an argument to be made that you can become much richer in America if you DON'T live the heavy-spending consumer lifestyle of the vast majority of Americans.

But of course some people still assimilate with the larger society more than others.

Last edited by BigCityDreamer; 03-19-2014 at 08:56 AM..
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Old 03-19-2014, 03:55 PM
Location: SGV, CA
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Not really. It's only nostalgia and revisionist history that makes people think other immigrant groups were any better at assimilating. Here's a quote from Ben Franklin on German immigrants.

"Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our language or customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion."

The only difference between more assimilated groups and less assimilated groups, is that the less assimilated groups saw continued immigration from their home country to America. Thus, as one generation assimilated into American culture, a new wave of immigrants took their place, creating the perception that they weren't assimilating.
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Old 03-19-2014, 04:34 PM
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In San Francisco, I see more Indian people going out to bars, meetups, restaurants outside of Indian than I do of Chinese. The majority of the Indians in San Francisco I see mingling with other races and going to main stream bars/clubs and restaurants, while the majority of Chinese in San Francisco I see mingling with their own race and going to Asian hosted bars/clubs and restaurants. Granted, this isn't to say all Chinese stick to their own culture in San Francisco and all Indians stick outside their own culture. However, this has been my experience in San Francisco hanging out around the city.

Disclaimer: My GF is Chinese, so don't think I'm picking on the Chinese lol. She says the same thing. She wonders why would you move to America and then not want to learn or experience American culture or learn English. She said she didn't know how to speak English, but since she was here, she thought it would be best to adopt the language and culture. She still has her Chinese culture, but she also has adopted American culture. I agree with her. If I got o China, I guarantee you I won't be sticking to Americans and only wanting to speak English. When I moved to Australia, I wanted to adopt Australian culture. When I went to Korea for awhile, I also wanted to learn Korean and adopt their culture.
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Old 03-19-2014, 09:54 PM
Location: The Heart of Dixie
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I am Chinese and Taiwanese American by ethnicity and am very assimilated. While I've been influenced in superficial ways by the Chinese culture of my parents, overall I identify simply with mainstream American culture and Southern culture. I did not grow up around many other Asians. Most of my life I've also lived in places that are almost completely white and black with some Hispanics but few Asians. I know Chinese Americans from areas with larger Asian populations, especially California and New York, seem to stick together and self segregate but this is less true for Chinese people from other states.

I wouldn't say that Chinese and Indian immigrants in the US cling together more than Mexicans or blacks. Many blacks self segregate and keep their own culture despite being here for hundreds of years. First generation Chinese and Mexican often cling together for language purposes too.

I honestly think the immigrant group that MOST clings to their culture is the Arabs and Muslims. This is true in the US and even more true in Europe, sometimes with very disturbing results like "Londonistan" and the fact that over a third of British Muslims supported the London subway bombings. The Islamic religion and culture is VERY insular. Many British Muslims and American Muslims do not identify with the country at all, while many Chinese Americans who culturally seem unassimilated still cheer for the US over China in the Olympics, same with many Mexican Americans. Many Muslim girls in the US are still forced to wear headscarves and have arranged marriages by their parents.
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