The Lost Generation

As a first-generation migrant from Nepal, I feel compelled to address a concerning trend that has been growing among our community settled in the global north. We are witnessing the emergence of a "lost generation" – children of Nepalese migrants who are losing their connection to their ancestral homeland, language, and culture. This phenomenon is saddening and raises important questions about our responsibilities as parents and community members. Many of us who have settled in countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, and various European nations take great pride in our children being born overseas. We celebrate their integration into the host country's culture and their fluency in the local language. However, in our enthusiasm to ensure their success in their new home, we often neglect to nurture their connection to Nepal and the Nepali language.

It is disheartening to see that many migrant parents fail to encourage their children to learn Nepali. They believe speaking Nepali might hinder their child's progress in the host country's language and culture. This misguided notion leads to a generation of Nepalese descendants with little affiliation with their country of origin. They become tourists in the land of their ancestors, unable to communicate with their grandparents or extended family members who still reside in Nepal.The consequences of this trend are far-reaching. Nepal is losing a generation of potential contributors to its economy and society and a piece of its cultural heritage. With its rich history and unique expressions, the Nepali language risks being lost among the diaspora. Moreover, these children are deprived of the opportunity to develop a strong sense of identity and belonging from knowing one's roots.

It is crucial that we, as first-generation migrants, reflect on our actions and take steps to rectify this situation. We must understand that encouraging our children to learn and speak Nepali does not undermine their ability to succeed in their host country. Bilingualism and multicultural exposure have been proven to have numerous cognitive and social benefits. By teaching our children Nepali, we are gifting them an additional tool to navigate the world and connect with their heritage.Furthermore, we must actively foster a sense of pride and connection to Nepal among our children. This can be achieved through regular visits to Nepal, participation in cultural events, and engagement with the local Nepalese community in our host countries. We should create an environment where our children feel comfortable embracing their dual identities and celebrating their Nepalese roots.

The term "lost generation" has historical significance, as it was used to describe the forced removal of indigenous Australian children from their families during the mid-1800s to the 1970s. While the context may differ, the underlying principle remains the same – the severing of ties between a child and their cultural heritage. We must ask ourselves, are we inadvertently doing the same to our children?

It is time for us to take responsibility and ensure that the next generation of Nepalese migrants does not become a "lost generation." Let us work together to preserve our language, culture, and connection to Nepal while also supporting our children's integration into their host countries. Only then can we truly claim to be proud parents and responsible members of the Nepalese diaspora.The importance of preserving our cultural heritage cannot be overstated. Our language, traditions, and values define us as a people and provide a sense of belonging. When we allow our children to grow up disconnected from their roots, we are depriving them of a rich cultural experience and contributing to the erosion of our collective identity.

Understandably, many migrant parents want their children to embrace the opportunities and lifestyle of their host country fully. However, this should not come at the cost of their Nepalese identity. It is possible, and indeed beneficial, for children to navigate multiple cultures and languages. We are equipping them with the tools to appreciate diversity, understand different perspectives, and contribute to a more inclusive society by fostering a strong connection to their Nepalese heritage.Moreover, maintaining ties with Nepal can benefit our children's future. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, having a deep understanding of multiple cultures and the ability to communicate in different languages can open up a wide range of personal and professional opportunities. Our children could become bridges between their host country and Nepal, facilitating cultural exchange, business partnerships, and diplomatic relations.

To achieve this, we must lead by example. As parents, we should make a conscious effort to speak Nepali at home, share stories of our homeland, and encourage our children to take an active interest in their heritage. We can organize community events, language classes, and cultural workshops to provide them with opportunities to connect with other Nepalese children and adults. Creating a supportive and inclusive environment can help our children develop a strong sense of pride in their Nepalese identity.Furthermore, we must challenge the notion that speaking Nepali at home will hinder our children's academic progress. Research has consistently shown that bilingualism has numerous cognitive benefits, including enhanced problem-solving skills, creativity, and resilience. By encouraging our children to learn and speak Nepali, we are preserving our cultural heritage and giving them valuable tools for their personal and intellectual growth.

We must also engage with the wider community and advocate for the importance of cultural preservation. We should work with local schools, community organizations, and government agencies to promote cultural awareness and inclusion. By sharing our stories and experiences, we can foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the Nepalese culture among the broader society. The emergence of a "lost generation" among Nepalese migrants in the global north is a concerning trend that demands our attention. As first-generation migrants, we are responsible for ensuring that our children maintain a strong connection to their Nepalese heritage while successfully integrating into their host countries. By encouraging bilingualism, fostering cultural pride, and actively engaging with our community, we can prevent the loss of our language, traditions, and values. By preserving our cultural heritage and nurturing the next generation's connection to Nepal, we can ensure that the Nepalese diaspora remains a vibrant and thriving community for generations.

Published on: 6 June 2024 | My Republica


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