Extra Credit: Classmate profile

Living with Immigrant Traditional Parents

A lone student walks up to the front of the class to receive her punishment. She missed five questions on her test, thus earning her five lashes across the palm of her hand with a ruler. The teacher doesn’t reserve any strength because this is for her own good.

This was the norm of the school system of India, the place where Rajvir Kaur, 21, was born. Though Kaur was able to escape from physical abuse of the school systems in India, this did not mean she could escape from the Indian culture.

“All I remember is getting hit, I don’t remember why, but it was traumatic since I still remember her face,” she said.

Kaur’s family is very traditional. Her father was especially strict about her behavior as a female growing up.

Kaur recently cut her hair but accidentally cut it too short. She said she will be keeping it up in a bun for awhile because “he’s very traditional, he definitely wouldn’t be happy.”

In India, it’s legal for parents to beat their children. Sometimes it got out of hand, Kaur said.

“My brother protected me,” she said.

Kaur’s brother had times when he strayed from the right path because of peer pressure. It was very hard on Kaur to see it happening, but he picked himself up and started again.

“My older brother, Rajvinder, wow, stand behind that man until the day I die,” she said.

Kaur enjoyed volley ball and track very much as a child but sports were a taboo for girls in the Indian culture.

“My father wouldn’t let me because I was a girl,” she said.

It is one of Kaur’s greatest regrets to this day, “it’s too late for me and I have a shoulder injury from pulling a muscle while playing in secret.”

Kaur volunteers in VITAS Hospice Center, but this needs to be kept a secret from her father. “My mom supports me, but my dad doesn’t because I’m a girl,” she said.

“My escape is music. I just plug in,” Kaur said.

Children from immigrant families face extra hurdles trying to find middle ground between American and their home culture. Being fluent in a different language than one’s parents doesn’t help the situation either.

It takes awhile to come out of the box. It took her 12 years to comfortably talk about her struggles as a child.

“Although sometimes I still can’t talk about it,” she said. “I just don’t want it to define me.”

Kaur is majoring in social work with a minor in journalism. “I just volunteer secretly and tell my dad I’m attending class. I’m sure everything will work out in the end.”


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