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The Nepalese-American Youth Experience

Anusha Basnet

After every invitation to an event, an inevitable groaning from the youth follows. “I have no friends! I don’t want to go!” However, their parents insist on their presence, stressing that whatever the event may be, attendance is mandatory. Parents will say they have to, using the go-to line that “the hosts are family!” Or, they might say that it’s for the culture. Most Nepalese parents have made preservation of culture a huge priority since migrating to this country. But there are only so many opportunities to learn about your culture when you have moved away from your country. That is why most parents insist their kids attend traditional events such as a “paasni,” “bartaman,” or “bihe.” Of course, they want us to observe the extensive requirements of a traditional wedding. These events might occur a thousand times a month in Nepal, with ample opportunities to learn about the traditions and to understand what it means to be a true Nepali so that one could then pass the learnings on to future generations. Here in the US, however, events are sparse, and each one is precious.

I know all this, because I used to be one of those youths. I did not understand why my parents insisted that I show my face at every event, or why I had to help with the preparations for someone’s wedding. I would always mutter that our actual family was 7381 miles away in Nepal.

However, after living in Connecticut for about fifteen years now, I have come to realize that everyone has become like family. Nepalese people here do not leave anyone alone, whether it be in times of joy or grief. The greatest example of familial community I have seen has been in CT. When we first arrived here, there were barely any Nepalese people around. Celebrations felt small. And, without the hustle and bustle of how celebrations usually take place in Nepal, it used to feel like a farce. Now, we struggle to find a venue large enough to accommodate the community we have built. This struggle is something we should be thankful for.

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