Adaptation of the Nepalese in the United States
Despite the rapid growth of the Nepalese population, presently very little is known about the Nepalese in the United States. This dissertation examines the adaptation of the Nepalese in the United States. It focuses on the following three research questions: 1. How do the Nepalese in the United States adapt culturally, structurally, maritally, identificationally, and receptionally to American life? 2. What factors influence the cultural, structural, marital, identificational, and receptional adaptation of the Nepalese in the United States? 3. Which factors play a more important role in the adaptation of the Nepalese in the United States?
The theoretical framework for guiding this study is built upon the synthesis of the following theories: classical assimilation, melting pot, cultural pluralism, selective assimilation, revisionist assimilation, and transnationalism. I proposed a series of hypotheses related to Nepalese's cultural, structural, identificational, marital, and receptional adaptation for testing.
The data were collected through an online survey using the online survey software tool, PsychData. The sample (N=768) was collected from the Nepalese who were 18 years old or older and currently living in the United States. I tested the hypotheses using ordinary least squares regression, logistic regression, multinomial logistic regression, and ordinal regression depending on the measurements of the dependent variables.
The results show that the majority of the Nepalese celebrated both Hindu and American holidays/festivals. Nepali was the dominant language spoken at home and with children. Most of them had friendship with Nepalese and socialized with Nepalese. The majority of the Nepalese interacted with whites in the workplace and lived in white neighborhoods. The majority of the respondents had a Nepalese spouse and consistently preferred to marry Nepali, if given a choice. More than half of the respondents would allow their children to marry non-Nepalese. The Nepalese not only identified themselves as Nepalese, but also felt closeness to their own ethnic group. The majority of the Nepalese had been mistaken as "Hispanics." Half of the respondents had been treated well in the host country but discriminated sometimes, and had never had unwelcomed feelings.
The results also reveal that age of entry is a significant predictor of celebrating Hindu festivals, attending Hindu religious services, attending Nepali functions, having a Nepalese spouse, disallowing children to marry non-Nepalese, and identifying self as Nepalese. Legal status significantly contributes to celebrating American holidays, identifying self as Nepalese American or Asian American, and facing less discrimination and prejudice. Length of stay increases proficiency in English language: it facilitates living in white neighborhoods, having friendship and socialization with whites, obtaining membership in Nepalese organizations, marrying a non-Nepalese, and self-identifying as Nepalese American or American/other. Education in the United States facilitates working mostly with whites and obtaining membership in American organizations. Travel to homeland increases attending Hindu religious services, being close to Nepalese, working mostly with whites, and living in white neighborhoods. Sending remittance is associated with closeness to one's own ethnic group. Similarly, reading Nepali newspapers contributes to attendance of Hindu religious services, attendance of Nepali functions, cooking of Nepali food, retention of ethnic language, self-identification as Nepalese, and closeness to one's own ethnic group.
It is found that the relative importance of the predictors in predicting Nepalese adaptation varies depending on the dependent variables. Age of entry has the strongest effect on celebrating Hindu festivals, attending Hindu religious services, attending Nepali functions, and disallowing children to many non-Nepalese. Gender has the strongest effect on attending religious services, cooking Nepali food, and obtaining membership in Nepalese organizations. Legal status not only has the strongest effect on celebrating American holidays and attending Nepali functions, but it also has an effect on a lack of racial/ethnic discrimination experience. Length of stay has the strongest effect on speaking English at home and with children, having friendships and socialization with whites, living in white neighborhoods, and marrying a non-Nepalese, if given a choice. The highest level of education has the strongest effect on socializing and working with whites, and allowing children to marry a non-Nepalese. Interestingly, education in the United States has the strongest effect on working with whites and obtaining membership in an American organization. Travel to homeland has the strongest positive effect on living in white neighborhoods and experiencing less racial/ethnic discrimination. Reading Nepali newspapers has the strongest positive effect on cooking Nepali food, having a Nepalese spouse, speaking Nepali language at home and with children, hindering English speaking ability, and socializing with Nepalese.
This dissertation is the first large-scale survey study of Nepalese in the United States. It offers wealth of information on the adaptation of Nepalese unavailable elsewhere. In particular, it systematically analyzes the status and determinants of Nepalese's cultural, structural, marital, identificational, and receptional adaptation. In addition, this dissertation proposes a multidimensional theoretical framework to depict the adaptation experiences of the Nepalese in the United States. It tests this theoretical framework and its derived hypotheses using data from Nepalese, a brand new group of immigrants in America. The results provide support for cultural pluralism theory and challenge classical assimilation theory. It also analyzes the role of transnational activities in adaptation. The results may help the understanding of the adaptation experiences of other new immigrant groups. In addition, it may help to reduce prejudice and discrimination against the Nepalese in America.