The children sat at their desks, bare feet dangling next to power cords, as the instructors unpacked the small, plastic laptops. As they waited, they kept their eyes fixed on the tiny machines that transport them beyond the high walls of the neat but sparse orphanage — if only for a few hours. “It allows me to know about the outside world,” Thu Thao, a shy and … [Read more...] about Computer Class Gives Vietnamese Orphans a Window to the World
A 94. A 94?! There, on my final 8th grade report card, my Algebra grade had dropped from a 98 to a 94. F&*#!!!!! No doubt, my bum was going to feel some heat when I got home that night. I, like most other Vietnamese children growing up in America, experienced some sort physical or verbal consequence because my grades weren’t good enough. I had made a careless … [Read more...] about An “Educated” Spanking
Recent news that Vietnam might consider legalizing gay marriage, a move that would make Vietnam the first Asian country to do so, stirred up quite a bit of debate among the diaspora of Vietnamese people in many countries, as well as in the gay community. Although the discussion of whether to legalize same-sex marriage won’t take place by the National Assembly Congress until … [Read more...] about Will Vietnam Legalize Gay Marriage–Or Only Divert Attention From Bigger Issues?
Each time I visit my homeland, Vietnam, I find that many of my relatives have gotten wealthier and progressively fatter, especially their overly pampered children. One cousin in Saigon in particular is raising an obese child. When asked why she was feeding him so much she simply shrugged and said, “Well, we barely had enough to eat during the Cold War. Now that I have money, I … [Read more...] about Obesity in Asia: American Fast Food is Fare for the Rich
A while back, when I was visiting my mother's ancestral village in Thai Binh province in northern Vietnam, it occurred to me that, after a barrage of questions from distant relatives, not once did anyone ask that common question in America: "So, what do you do?" Instead the questions were familial and personal: "How is your mother?" "Do you own a car?" "Are you married?" When … [Read more...] about What Do You Do? Identity vs. Work, East vs. West