Family is the solid pillar in one’s life, no matter how far away siblings and relatives might be. As an immigrant who has lived in America for the past twelve years of my life, I have met many people, but my family has always been what I return to. As a youthful pre-teen, I did not quite know the full value of family. I had hesitated when my mom suggested she and I visit Vietnam for a month in order to spend quality time with her relatives. I had always been detached from my siblings from her side, so at the time, I did not see the importance in visiting. However, by the end of the trip, I had gained a glowing love for the family that I have in Vietnam.
When my mother and I arrived in Vietnam, her family was already waiting for us in Saigon’s airport. Amongst the hectic crowds of people being herded from one stop to another, I heard the familiar voices I had once been used to as a child. I was immediately embraced by one of my aunts, overwhelmed by the warmth of her hug as she kissed my forehead with tenderness. I did not know how to react, but to hug her in return, for I instantly felt at home. My mother and I were whisked away into a nearby taxi that drove steadily and calmly, navigating its way through the insanely dense traffic of the Vietnamese roads. The streets were different than what I had imagined them to be like. People on motorbikes congested the roads, all heading to some destination that was important to them. Saigon was busy, with buzzing energy permeating the air as if it were the electricity of street lamps. The parks that we passed by were filled with vendors, all sitting in their designated spots, calling out to travelers, hoping for someone hungry to stop for a plate of food. The casual atmosphere of these parks was juxtaposed with the fast pace of the rest of the city, each balancing out the other.
As the taxi van approached my grandmother’s home, I could not help but notice how much it had aged since the last time I had seen it in a few glossy photos that were mailed to my mom. Stepping into the home was similar to entering another time period. The black and white tiled floors stood out against the pale blue of the walls, inviting me into the main living room where my grandmother was waiting. She recognized me almost instantly, and began to cry as though I were a newborn again, brought into her world by a kind act of fate. At the moment she took me into her arms, I was home again.
After the first few moments spent in the living room, whatever unfamiliarity was left melted away, and I began to view the place as my home. For the rest of my time spent in Vietnam, I learned of Vietnamese tradition and culture with my family, and found myself more immersed in my heritage than I had ever been before. I explored the city with my cousins and saw the people of my culture celebrating their lives together, laughing, eating, and loving.
I experienced the early morning walks with my mom amidst the empty town streets as we made our way to her childhood church for a visit. I discovered the Vietnamese delicacies that were being sold simply from small plastic containers or wide weaved baskets. The streets were the markets, and the markets were a part of the people. I will always have imprinted within me the sights of the townspeople bargaining for their daily groceries, making humorous conversation with the vendors in hopes of for a discounted price. I was able to be a part of all of this with my family in Vietnam, and I will always be grateful for those days when I wandered with my siblings for hours on end amongst the scents and sights of the streets. Through experiencing the colorful life of Vietnam with my family, I was able to appreciate each relative’s presence uniquely and unforgettably.
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