Coconut Generation

The Next Generation of Asian Indians

Record number of Indian students in American Universities November 18, 2009

Filed under: College,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 1:16 am

Foreign student enrollment from India exeeded 100,000 for the first time in USA. Over the last eight years Indians were top of the international student category. Number of international students at American universities increased by 8% to an all-time high of 671,616 in the 2009 academic year and students from India made up 103,260 of the total.

Here is Open doors 2009 report from Institute of International Education. See also news report in Times of India. 

China remained in second place, although there was a sharp 21 per cent spike in students from China, going up from 81,127 last academic year to 98,235 this year. South Korea (69,000 to 75,000) remained in third place. International students contribute $17.8 billion to the US economy, through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses.

Universities in California hosted the largest number of foreign students with 93,124, up 10%, followed by New York with 74,934, up 7%, and Texas with 58,188, up 12%. The New York City metropolitan area continues to be the leading city for international students, with 59,322 enrolled in area schools, up 8%. The Los Angeles metropolitan area is in second place with 42,897 international students, up 11%.

The top ten most popular fields of study for international students in the United States in 2009 were Business Management (21% of total), Engineering (18%) and Physical and Life Sciences (9%), Social Sciences (9%), Mathematics and Computer Science (8%), Health Professions (5%), Fine & Applied Arts (5%), Language (4%), Humanities (3%), Education (3%), and Agriculture (1%).

Another interesting trend is the 20% rise of number of American students studying in India. The number of Americans studying in India rose from 2627 in 2006/2007 to 3146 in 2007/2008, making India the 17th in the list of countries for US students. The top five spots went to UK, Italy, Spain, France and China, the last of which had more than 13,000 American students. Flow is happening both ways.

 

Monogamy – Is it Realistic? November 6, 2009

Filed under: Culture,Family,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 3:40 pm

A friend recently asked me, “Is monogamy realistic in 21st century?” That made me thinking. In an age of divorce, hookup culture and widespread infidelity, “death do us part’ seems nearly impossible. Celebrities are flaunting openly their extra-marital exploits! With people constantlymoving from place to place and change jobs like they do with clothes, the ‘use and throw’ attitude is creeping into our thinking of how we view relationships like that of marriage.

Some recommends serial monogamy – a model in which people move from one committed long-term relationship to another and choose partners for different reasons at different stages of their life. But what kind of commitment is that? Do you consider 3 month as long term? Then what about children through all those marriages? Imagine someone saying, “these are my kids born in my 20s, then these in 30s, these in so and so country, these after retirement!”

The duplicity (or should we say multiplicity) of polygamy – in relationship with many women/men at the same time, does not have any commitment at all. All the time, both are thinking who else other person is flirting with. They never really give themselves to each other, without which they will never achieve deeper intimacy in the relationship. Suscipion, jealousy and mistrust are deterimental to building fulfilling marriage.

Then there is the concept of “open marriage” in which couples stayed married but were free to date other people. Now there is a dating site of married men and women, that claims profiles of over 5 million, has a tag line – ‘Life is short, Have an Affair.” Researchers have proven multiple sexual partners robs the real joy of sexual intimacy and fulfilling deep relationship.

More recently, polyamory — the practice of having romantic relationships with multiple people at the same time with the full knowledge and consent of all involved — has been getting a lot of attention. According to Newsweek magazine researchers estimate there are more than half a million polyamorous families in the United States. Dinner everynight with different people in different places, can sound very exciting, but it will drain your emotional vitality. It is not variety or number of partners that ensures pleasure or fulfillment, but it is exclusivity.

“Till a tempting partner do us apart” is symbolic of the Western cultural liberalism. A generation who have not seen marital fidelity and does not know how to spell COMMITMENT. Marriage is designed to be an exclusively relationship between a man and women. Attempts at reframing the basic equation to satisfy human selfishness and sinfulness will cause Western civilization to implode. Where goes the marriage in a society, there goes the nation!

 

Pricetag to Raise a Child September 24, 2009

Filed under: Culture,Family,News,United States — Sam George @ 8:13 pm

A middle-income family can expect to spend $291,570 including inflation to raise a child born in 2008 to adulthood,  This was reported in a new study by the  US department of Agriculture.  It is slight up from the same figure last year. If you have three kids, you will spend nearly a million bucks on them! See this report on Reuters.

The estimate covers food, shelter and other necessities for a child to age 18. The figure does not include the cost of childbirth or college. I also assume it does not incude private schooling or technotools like iPhone or laptops. Last year, the USDA estimated it would cost $269,040 to raise a child born in 2007 to age 18, including inflation. The USDA has made the estimates since 1960, when the estimated cost was $25,300. 

Average Indian American household will spend way more than that for their kids. Indian American household income is the largest among any ethnic groups (also highest educated) and they are keen on spending it on their children. They even save up to pay for the college education and wedding!

The growing cost of childrearing is another reason, families in the west are limiting number of children they are having. More children also mean more cost of raising them, which they do not have. parent become more preoccupied with saving up for their retirement and do not want to keep incurring expenses on their children. No wonder children per household is lagging behind the replacement need of 2.1 per family. Population control policy is imploding on western civilization leading to demographic winter.

 

Runaway Convert

Filed under: Youth — Sam George @ 2:49 pm

Over last few weeks, we saw how popular media has been covering the story of conversion of Sri Lankan second generation Muslim girl. Youtube and facebook has been at the heart of this controversy. Here are some links – TIME, ABC News, and Fox News. She even has an URL after her name – www.rifqabary.com

Listen to her testimony on youtube.

This has turn into legal battle between Christianity & Islam – high powered lawayers and another culture war in Florida. She is a minor (17 years old only) and parents are trying to get her back to Ohio. Abuse/threat, custody battle with religious conversion makes this potent news item and controversy.

I want to share some reflections on second generation and youth work. South Asians who are born and raised outside of South Asian cultural context, particularly in the West are less committed to the faith of their parents. I have heard from Hindu temple authorities and priests that second generations are not involved in puja and religious activities like their parents. Same is true of South Asian muslims and sikhs. It is true of South Asian Christians as well, they are less likely subscribe to the traditional Christianity of their parents.

The westernized and secularized second generation are more likely to be drawn to Jesus Christ to fill their spiritual quest. The vibrant Christian churches and ministries are able to fill this gap. But only some are turning to Jesus, while most second generation are getting sucked into American materialism and promiscuity. They are neither able to relate to faith of their forefathers nor embrace the faith of people in this land.

Immigrant parents are busy trying to make a living and create security for themselves that they are clueless about their children’s spiritual struggles. They are treated as little and not knowledgable, but they pursue non-conventional means to explore deeper life issues, including technology. For parents religious rituals were enough, but children are deeply spiritual and disillusioned by immigrant cultural relgiosity.

This also highlights the crucial nature of youthwork in immigrant churches. Mere religious socialization is not enough for the second generation. The goal should not be turn kids into nice Indian (read malayali, tamil, gujurati, telugu etc) [or Sri Lankan or Pakistani for that matter] nor fine Catholic, Syrian Christian or Pentecostal, but a transformational experience through an encounter with the living God.

 

Sexuality & Spirituality of College students August 28, 2009

Filed under: Culture,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 4:08 pm

Summer is over. Fall session has begun in most colleges in the country. Many parents have send off their sons and daughters to college for the first time and are yet to recover from the shock how their ‘baby’ has grown up so fast or how he/she is going to survive in the college!

College students are more sexually active than previous generations and there is growing fascination to spirituality. How do these young people reconcile their spiritual longings with sexual freedom on campus? Do they connect the dots at all? Why not?

Recently, I came across this book (Sex and the Soul byDonna Freitas) and added it to my ‘to read list.’ Read some reviews here – USA Today, Amazon. She is professor of religion in Boston Univeristy and has extensively researched across American university campuses. Check it our for yourself.sex soul cover

Indian American teens who have grown up in very traditional homes and parents who shyed away from talking about sex openly, are generally confused about sex. They have only heard “don’t do it … no one is going to marry you then.” Parents are harder on girls than boys. Media and peers often holds to values that contracdict their parents’ values and what is really good for them. The new found freedom and lack of accountability in college dorms only makes it worse.

Especially it is harder for girls who repress their sexuality until they go away to college have not developed a conviction about sexual ethics. Getting pregnant or catching sexually transmitted disease are not the only reason why young people should abstain from sex.

Quoting from the book, “Teenagers usually follow their parents’ religious preferences until college. Then, students shift to an uncertain and lonely spirituality, which doesn’t give them the resources to deal with demeaning sexual practices. Young women come off worst: They’re expected to conform to pornographic masculine fantasies, but also achieve academic success and self-confidence.”

The profound connection of sexuality and spirituality are often overlooked. Deep longing of the soul lead them to experiment with sex, but often left unfulfilled. Passion when finds its expression in casual sexual practices leaves our young people more confused than before. Jumping from bed to bed or dorm rooms to another is a poor solution to  deep longing of the soul.

Not to mention how the baggage of premarital sex affects married life and fulfilling sexual experiences. Many of marriage problems I see among young Indian American families could traced back to their college lives – inadequate relationship skills, past relational blunders, premarital sexual involvement and dysfunctional childhood homes. Momentary pleasure lead to lifetime of pain. It surely is not worth it!

 

Suicidal tendency August 19, 2009

Filed under: church,Culture,News,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 10:55 pm

U.S.-born Asian-American women seem to be particularly at risk for suicidal behavior, according to new University of Washington research.  The study shows 15.93 percent of U.S.-born Asian-American women have contemplated suicide in their lifetime, exceeding national estimates of 13.5 percent for all Americans.  (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090817190650.htm)

This is true of coconut generation – girls have higher propensity than boys. When cultural and gender issues collide, crisis becomes acute. It is never as intense as during adolescence. Being a teenager is hard in all cultures, but children of immigrants suffer severly. Children of Asian immigrants particularly suffer where gender bias is adversely stands against women. Thus teen girls growing up in Asian immigrant  dysfunctional homes are more inclined to consider ‘final exit’ more seriously.

So youth ministry in churches, school counselors and parents have a critical role of developing healthy relationships with teens to navigate children thro this difficult stage of life. Modern living makes it harder and we are pushed into isolation. Virtual relationships are not enough either. Teens need trusting real relationship, even when they lack relationship skills to sustain it.

Youth mentoring is powerful. Big brother, big sister program are so effective. Take some young people under your wings. Believe in them. Listen to them. be there for them. Ministry of availability and ministry of presence can make life transforming impact on the lives of teens.

 

My Interview with L2 Blog August 14, 2009

Filed under: Youth — Sam George @ 6:16 pm

L2 Foundation is a network of Asian American Christian leaders. I was interviewed about Connext Conf. Check it out for yourself.

Interview