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.