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.