Changes - My Family Travels

      Anxiety fills my mind and my body reveals my impatience as I land in my destination of Da Nang, Vietnam. As I pass the airport security, I scan into this unfamiliar place. Though beginning this adventure, with expectations of only enjoyment, to my surprise I gained knowledge about family’s work and lifestyles.

      When we arrived at my grandma’s house, I gazed in amazement as the women of my family prepares our family dinner while the men sat around leisurely laughing and sipping beer. As I look around, I thought there wasn’t much but a mat, chairs, and tables. I pictured more of an exotic home, with extra cushions on the mat decorated with rich looking draped curtains, like the one I had seen on TV. I then glanced outside onto the main street where I noticed the many male workers accompanied with young children who were barely dressed in clean clothes, working in the heat of the day. I thought how that would be called child labor in America. Observing the many male workers led to my conclusions that men are dominant to their society. Abruptly, my thoughts were interfered with my mother calling me to the table. It was a long table with a never ending buffet bar, that included, fish soup, roasted shrimps, veggies and traditional sticky white rice. Gathered around for this family dinner, I encountered a strange feeling that I never felt before.

      However, during the next few days, the unusual feeling became clear that it was unity. I was not use to such family. I explored a new world around the meaning of “family”, which included family eating together every meal, even the working husband came home on break to enjoy his lunch. The family dinners were where the discussions of the daily happenings and jokes occurred. It was the family dinner that kept the family united. Gradually over time, the difference between my life as an American and as a Vietnamese came into picture.

      Eventually, I began to find the different perspective and meaning to this absurd world. While Americans yearn for luxurious cars, jewelry and brand clothes, the Vietnamese family travels by mopeds, bike or by feet hoping to earn enough money for the next day. Clothes are not a factor, in fact, the average clothes the many had own was 4 outfits, which were washed and re-worn daily. At dawn, the men are on the way their way to a long day of hard work, for most of the wives and daughters, life revolves around the idea of society – cooking, cleaning and caring for their loved ones. It was so strange how I thought woman were limited to their choices, rather than in America, women has more opportunities. On the other hand, the American society, upholds equal respect for both genders.

      As Americans, we take many things for granted, the air conditioning, the importance of education, government financial support, and the convenience of a quick meal. A Vietnamese child can only have a chance of education if the family is fortunate, or the child’s future could only be a life of hard labor. Greatly, this made me appreciate the free public school that is provided in America to the rich and the poor.

      The traveling experience left a big impact in my life. The meaning seems to be more substantial in a sense that I used to believe expensive clothes, shoes, jewelry and all the unnecessary luxury were the importance in my life. Yet, these beliefs, transformed into the unconditional love of life and values of my “family”.


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