Should I learn my family history?

Why I Learned Where My Family Came From

I know that I'm Vietnamese but that's barely scratching the surface.


I was born and raised in the United States, however, my parents immigrated from a country called Vietnam. Growing up in a place where being different was frowned upon, I was very narrow-minded on who I was. I was only focused on how society wanted me to be and try to fit in. Sometimes, I felt that was ashamed to be Asian and that makes me sad just thinking about. However, this was because I didn't know who I was or where I came from.

I know that I'm Vietnamese but I wanted to dig deeper. So, I decided to have an interview with mom. She was born on September 3, 1969, which, here's the thing, that's not her real birthday because back home, children were given their birth date before they were even born. Crazy right? Anyway, she was born in Nha Trang, Vietnam and has four sisters and two brothers. Grandpa was a factory worker and Grandma was a teacher. Her favorite memories as a kid were sneaking out of the house, going to the beach, picking shells, swimming, climbing coconut trees, and school which was only from 7 to 12. How awesome would that be?

However, during this time in Vietnam, the Vietnam War was happening which meant communist was everywhere you went. In order to escape the spread of communism, mom and the rest of the family tried to flee but failed. Grandpa was arrested and placed into jail for a one year for being part of a conspiracy which he wasn't part of. However, in 1990, mom and my Aunt Anna got the chance to leave Vietnam to the Philippines for six months. Eventually, they finally flew to the United States in Winston Salem. She worked in a factory and a restaurant so she could attend college, while not knowing much English. She graduated from UNCG in 1997.

I was debating whether or not to ask her about dad but I wanted to know everything so I wasn't going to back down. Dad was born July 20, 1970, who was a classmate of mom in middle school which was up to eighth and ninth grade and a neighbor back then. At first, my dad didn't like my mom because she was annoying, obnoxious and a bully. Mom always says that they were high school sweethearts because she wants it to sound like a fairy tale. Gotta love mom but I can relatable with wanting a cute love story. He escaped Vietnam and went to Norway when he was 15 in 1985. He grew up there and went to school. He played soccer and graduated high school.

During his college days in 1995, mom's uncle bought both mom and dad together again. He told her all about dad over in Norway and met dad's family. Mom started to talk with dad's cousin and sent his cousin a picture of her. When he finally saw mom's picture, they both began talking back and forth with letters. How romantic is that?

Mom still has those letters from both her and dad. They were both truly in love and you can tell from the letters. Though I can't read them that well, mom translated them for me. Mom was so happy, reading those letters with a huge smile which I have never seen before. They wrote letters for about a year and then in Dec 1996 around Christmas, he came to the United States to visit mom. He went back home after a week, then in 1997, he decided to come back to live here. They both went to the courthouse to get married. Paperwork was done so she could petition for him to stay with her. 1999, they finally had a wedding. Mom and Dad flew to Norway to have a party for his family. Mom got pregnant in 1999 and had me in 2000. My sister was born in 2001.

Realizing how lucky I am to be born in the United States, showed me that I should be grateful for who I am.

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To The Dad Who Didn't Want Me, It's Mutual Now

Thank you for leaving me because I am happy.

Thank you, for leaving me.

Thank you, for leaving me when I was little.

Thank you, for not putting me through the pain of watching you leave.

Thank you, for leaving me with the best mother a daughter could ask for.

I no longer resent you. I no longer feel anger towards you. I wondered for so long who I was. I thought that because I didn't know half of my blood that I was somehow missing something. I thought that who you were defined me. I was wrong. I am my own person. I am strong and capable and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

In my most vulnerable of times, I struggled with the fact that you didn't want me. You could have watched me grow into the person that I have become, but you didn't. You had a choice to be in my life. I thought that the fact that my own father didn't want me spoke to my own worth. I was wrong. I am so worthy. I am deserving, and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

You have missed so much. From my first dance to my first day of college, and you'll continue to miss everything. You won't see me graduate, you won't walk me down the aisle, and you won't get to see me follow my dreams. You'll never get that back, but I don't care anymore. What I have been through, and the struggles that I have faced have brought me to where I am today, and I can't complain. I go to a beautiful school, I have the best of friends, I have an amazing family, and that's all I really need.

Whoever you are, I hope you read this. I hope you understand that you have missed out on one of the best opportunities in your life. I could've been your daughter. I could have been your little girl. Now I am neither, nor will I ever be.

So thank you for leaving me because I am happy. I understand my self-worth, and I understand that you don't define me. You have made me stronger. You have helped make me who I am without even knowing it.

So, thank you for leaving me.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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My Mom Is My Biggest Weakness In The Best Way Possible

Although my mom is still my parent, she's also a friend.


My parents are everything to me. They raised me to be independent, strong, smart, and hard working. They made sure to keep me in line, to ensure that I would be respectful and responsible. They raised me to be prepared for the world before I graduated high school. For everything they've done, I'm very grateful.

Focusing on my mom more specifically, she is my weakness. By that I mean, I can go to her with anything and I know she's willing to listen, to be open, and she won't impart judgment.

My mom always knows how to calm me down, but she is the one person who can also make me cry harder. I don't mean this in a bad way. It's just that whenever I've had a tough day or my anxiety has been heightened by some ordeal, I know that if I see my mom or if I even call her over the phone, the waterworks come flooding. I don't know what it is about my mom that makes me feel so emotional, so vulnerable. Each time I go to her, it's almost as if I'm a kid again, crawling into her mother's arms, seeking a nurturing soul to tell me that everything will be okay.

Sometimes I even avoid calling my mom when I'm in a rut because I refuse to cry or feel weak. For instance, if I had a problem, I'd avoid talking to her about it. If a week goes by, I'll update her on my problems, and begin crying about it (even though I was already over it beforehand). My mom can bring out anything from me. She laughs when I tell her this because she knows that no matter how old her baby girl gets, she'll always need her mama.

I think as I've gotten older, I've realized how much more my parents mean to me. As a kid, I always felt like they were against me. I felt as if they didn't want me to do anything and didn't want me to grow. As an adult, I realize it's the exact opposite. My parents have always wanted what's best for me, and because I've grown to understand this, I feel so much closer to them.

I feel as though now, although my mom is still my parent, she's also a friend. She's someone I can go to when I feel down, someone I can go to for a good laugh. She's so much better than me in so many ways. She's outgoing, loud, obnoxious, smart, and is always seeing the good in situations. When I talk about my mom to other people, they're always so interested in meeting with her or talking with her. When they finally get the chance to, they're instantly drawn to her character. They're drawn to her laughter. I kid you not, my mom can light up a room in seconds. She is always the life of the party. It sometimes makes me jealous when people find out how amazing my mother is because I swear they'd rather be friends with her than me.

What people don't see is her struggles. They don't see the pain she goes through with her ongoing injury. They don't see that not only does it take a physical toll, but also an emotional toll. She hides it really well because that's what parents are "supposed to do." My mom is the strongest person I know and to see the two contrasts of her is astonishing. To think that someone so full of life can also battle personal struggles, it's hard to see, especially because she's my mom and all I want is the best for her. One part of my mom struggles while the other part of her is so vibrant, so full of life, so sassy.

I don't know how she's put up with all of the hardships in her life. I've never seen someone work so hard and refuse to fail. She refuses to be taken advantage of. I've never seen someone as amazing as my mother. She can do anything.

I think my mom looks down on herself sometimes. I think, like any woman, she sees imperfections. What I don't think she sees, that I wish she would, is the tenacity she has. I want her to see herself the way I do: beautiful, strong, courageous, sassy, outgoing. I could go on and on about how much my mom inspires me and how she's made me appreciate her in more ways than one.

Mom, thank you for all that you do and all that you are. I hope you know how much Rachel, Vanessa and I all love you. I hope you know that no matter what struggles we go through, you are our rock. You hold the fort down and you're always there to make sure we're good, even when you aren't yourself. Thank you for always thinking of us, for believing in us, and for never turning your back. I love you more than you know.

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