News / Africa

South Sudanese in US Face Culture Gap

June is a big month for graduations in the US, where many South Sudanese are pursuing education -- but not necessarily familiesJune is a big month for graduations in the US, where many South Sudanese are pursuing education -- but not necessarily families
x
June is a big month for graduations in the US, where many South Sudanese are pursuing education -- but not necessarily families
June is a big month for graduations in the US, where many South Sudanese are pursuing education -- but not necessarily families
Kelly J. Kelly
Rose Lokwang was one student who proudly accepted a degree in biology and anthropology from Colorado University at Boulder this spring. Now she’s thinking about going to medical school.

In the meantime, she is staying in the western United States and sharing a house with a female friend. She says if she had remained in South Sudan, her life would probably look more like her peers' lives -- married with kids.

“One of the things I heard back from going to medical school is that, I’m 26 now, how many more years am I going to go? Am I going to have a family, or get married?"

Lokwang says she frankly doesn’t know how to answer those questions. She says relations between men and women are different when a woman has an education. On the one hand, she says she likes being able to say more to men than “yes” and “I’m sorry.”

“Now I can defend my own opinion. If I know something is wrong. I can say it’s wrong because of 1-2-3. Not arguing or fighting, but at least trying to say what you feel.”

But on the other hand, she says some men worry that educated women don’t need them.

“They think men are always supposed to provide for everything. But once they see a woman who is educated, they think they can kick [a man] out of the house at any time. They are scared,” Lokwang says.

What Lokwang hopes for is respect. She wants to go back to South Sudan and help pregnant women deliver their babies safely. Her education, she says, might make people listen to her advice.

Mario Bol, for one, thinks Lokwang’s independence is a positive. Bol is a 37-year-old graduate student who’s been living in the United States for over a decade. He’s not married either. He says at home, women are seen as property.

“Once they get married you will have to pay dowry, so that makes it very difficult for the girls to exercise their independence. But in the United States, they’re free to do anything they want. If you want to get married, that’s fine. But compared to the ones at home, the ones in the U.S. are free.”

But Benjamin Macar, who is also a single graduate student living in Washington, D.C., cautions against thinking there are no rules here. He points out that laws and society limit people’s freedom, even in the United States, and that there are strengths and weaknesses in every culture.

“Family is very important [in South Sudan]. And there are things when we are here, we do not like them. Especially the divorce rate.”

Macar says broken families are one of the biggest concerns of the South Sudanese community in the United States. And he points out that preserving one’s family—even while pursuing an education and adapting to life in a new country—is an issue for both women and men.

South Sudanese in US Face Culture Gap
South Sudanese in US Face Culture Gapi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs