Former Vietnamese Refugee- surviving long uncertain travel, pirates, and refugee camps to new life of hope

Vietnamese woman, former boat person, one of many, tells about her family’s journey to the United States. Phuong and her family have volunteered for my organization to help remember and honor Vietnam Era veterans and to assist me with my work with Amerasians.

When reflecting with Phuong, some of the views, customs, and experiences we refer to are of our parents and their generation. I grew up with some of the culture because of my mother, but we were the only Vietnamese, let alone Asians in our area and of course I had my American father I grew up with. I later in my adult years took up the custom of having a family shrine for my grandparents as a personal act of respect. Many Vietnamese do practice some of these customs mentioned in the clip, but there are a lot of changes in the family system today. I personally like some of the old along with the new.

Watch my cooking show segment with Phoung on how to make Vietnamese Spring rolls and Rice Porridge (click here)

I am who you think I am, don’t YOU know? It just makes me laugh!

identity-fraud12I am who you think I am, don’t YOU know? It just makes me laugh.

It just makes me laugh…………….

~Are you wearing your Vietnamese dress to your event? No

Why not? Shame on you. Where is your pride in your culture?

It just makes me laugh………………

~Your name- where is it from? It is a Vietnamese name.

Oh- you are Vietnamese?

Well I am actually Cambodian from Vietnam with also an American father.

Why do you have to state that you are Cambodian Vietnamese? Are you trying to get attention for being a minority? Are you not just American?

I say all of this because someone (like you) asked me where my name is from or I’m asked to speak about my experiences and connection to Vietnam and the war in Vietnam so how does one leave all that out?

Actually………….. I just go around and say all the time when introducing myself……HELLO…. MY NAME IS THUY. Guess what? I am A Cambodian from Vietnam. Oh and By The Way- I am also Amerasian. In case you are wondering……………….

It just makes me laugh……………………..

~You are not really Vietnamese. You don’t like to eat certain Vietnamese food. You are Americanized!

It just makes me laugh…………………………

~I bet you cook Vietnamese food all the time, just like your mother.

Actually…….I cook more Italian food than I do Vietnamese Sometimes.

Really? Shame on you.

It just makes me laugh………..

~I decide to make Vietnamese food or share some Vietnamese and Cambodian culture. I love to visit Vietnam and Cambodia.

Why is that and why do you share these things? Are you ashamed of being an American? I wonder if you would rather live there because of your past negative experiences.

It just makes me laugh…………………

~Someone said to me – “hey I just got done watching a few kung-fu movies, it made me think of you”.

It just makes me laugh…………………..

~Some white people say- Don’t talk about race and then it won’t be an issue! They are quick to quote a couple of black men who have said- “I am not a black man, I am a man, AMERICAN.  It only becomes an issue because you talk about it”.

It just makes me laugh……….

~A Veteran says to me before one my events I organize- can I greet you with a hug?

I said no. How about a punch?

He cracked up and says: “Boy, I guess you have been in this country a long time”.

~I AM Thuy! So…… I am Buddhist! I am Americanized! I am meek! I am un-submissive! I am disrespectful! I am an Asian princess! I am Amerasian so I AM Confused! I am an ungrateful Asian! I am a spoiled American! I am delicate! I am quiet and she never argues with her man! I am too Asian! I am not Asian enough!  I EAT DOG!

I AM??????????? I do??????? Don’t YOU know?

It just makes me laugh………..

* (Added a day later)

This blog was an accounting & expression of…..YES….what I’ve heard personally throughout the years. Am I Americanized? Am I an ungrateful Asian? And so on and so on….Should I be cooking Asian food all the time? Is it a shame if I don’t? The point was- some people out there seem to know. Depending on who it is, what they perceive to be the truth about you or how they think it should be.

These assumptions just didn’t come from white people or other races, but also some Vietnamese. I am half Asian and half white. I am Amerasian, no longer a negative identity, but mine to embrace and be proud.