If you just look at my blog, you’ll know I’m not that great at drawing. It’s pretty clear that the only thing I know how to draw are people, and even then those people are frumpy and cartoony and disproportionate.
And if you read my blog, you can probably can tell I like comics. I do. One of my dreams is to, one day, publish my own comic book. Of course, with my art skills as they are right now, this probably isn’t doable. My imagination is restricted by my sheer lack of drawing skills. This is sad. This needs to be fixed.
So I thought that it would be a great idea to take an art class this semester. Foundations of Drawing 1, to be exact. I could learn art! Learn to draw! Improve my art skills!
Except, I forgot that this was college. Where we are graded on merit in addition to effort. Also, I forgot that I was a biology major.
My first day of class looked a little like this:
I was pretty nervous. I was the odd man out, after all. What was I doing here? I can’t draw the way all these kids can!
I knew I would have to try hard to get a good grade in this class. Our first assignment was to go outside and draw landscapes. So, on a nice fall afternoon, I went out and sketched…
The results were less than spectacular.
Our second assignment was about composition. We were to draw objects and try to frame them nicely. I tried my best, and…
I actually really love my art teacher. She’s super-nice, really fair, and very sensitive about critique. She understands people who are coming from another major, though she still expects you to produce good work. However, she’s also an art teacher. Like how some people don’t understand scientific jargon, I don’t really get art terminology.
So I was really nervous when I handed in my first graded homework assignment. Every homework we hand in is peer-critiqued. In other words, we hang everyone’s stuff up on a wall and bash them, one-by-one. I knew my homework was bad…
I’ve been struggling a bit this semester, as my classes (especially this one) have been more time-consuming. I was also convinced that I was going to fail this drawing class. I seriously considered dropping it, and called my sister in a panic.
I decided that it all hinged on what I received on our first graded homework assignment. The one where my composition was poor, that is. Our professor handed back our work…
I GOT A B! I got a B. Despite my art being awful, I didn’t fail!
And that is probably the only time I will be happy with getting a B.
So I’ve been trying to reconnect to my culture lately.
It’s true. I’m a twinkie. Yellow on the outside, white on the inside. My Vietnamese is terrible. I’m really awful at eating spicy food. I don’t have tons of Vietnamese friends.
At the same time, though, I’m very proud of being Vietnamese. Because it’s my culture. It’s part of my life. Because tôi là người Việt Nam!
Yeah. I Google translated that one.
So in an attempt to be more Vietnamese, I decided I needed more Vietnamese friends. I decided to do this by joining the Vietnamese Student Association, a student-run club based around– as they put it– “friends, food, and fun!” The VSA isn’t restricted to Vietnamese students, either– we have Chinese and Indian and American students as well.
In fact, I was going to join VSA last year. Except when I signed up, this happened…
I knew deep down that it probably wasn’t true, but I carefully avoided going to VSA anyway. I went through all of freshman year with predominantly non-Asian friends. Now, this is something I wasn’t used to. My hometown has a very high Korean population, so I had a lot of Asian friends in high school. Even my American friends were relatively knowledgeable about Asian culture. So it was when, in college, I ran into things like
And then I joined VSA.
VSA, of course, turned out to be the opposite of what I expected. Actually, I’m not sure what I expected. Perhaps I expected a bunch of super-Asian kids speaking only Vietnamese and being super cliquey.
Instead, I found a club full of a bunch of cheerful, friendly people, full of jokes and amicability and terrible puns.
The club (in addition to holding meetings) hosts social events like game nights, a yearly cultural show, and movie outings. We even went out to eat dim sum the other day. For those who don’t know what dim sum is, it’s a style of Chinese food prepared in small, bite-sized portions. Every dish costs a couple of dollars. Everybody eats family style, sharing dishes and fighting for the food in the middle.
When I say fighting, I mean battling.
Because our group (of 12+ people) had to wait for a table for over an hour even though we had made a reservation the day before. We were angry. We were stressed. We were hungry.
It was like being home again.
And that’s how I’m trying to be more Vietnamese. I’m even taking a free Vietnamese class on campus! It’s a challenge. But hopefully I’ll do my good ol’ Vietnamese grandmother proud.