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Vietnamese Culture

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Essay title: Vietnamese Culture

My Bicultural Values

After the fall of Saigon in 1975, Vietnamese Americans became members of one of the United States’ largest refugee groups. The Vietnamese came to the United States from a culture vastly different from most American cultures. My two oldest brothers were among the hundreds of thousands who escaped communist Vietnam as “Boat People” in 1984. They fled with the clothes they were wearing and my parents’ wedding rings tucked inside. My family, including my parents, my older brother, my younger sister and I left Vietnam to come to the United States to reunion with my two brothers in 1994. We had permission from the United States government to come over to the United States because my father, who was a former general of the Republican Army, was put in jail for ten years in 1975 when the communist army of North Vietnam had won the battle. I have watched my parents sacrifice to bring us here, so I felt it was my duty to respect their rules and uphold our Vietnamese customs. Like many refugee parents, a good education is a big part of my parent’s aspiration for their children. My parents risked their lives for me, I need to do everything I can to achieve their dreams of me. However, life as a Vietnamese American is very difficult for me. I often find myself straddling two social worlds that I did not fit neatly either. I basically have one foot in each culture.

Vietnamese culture puts a strong emphasis on being part of the We. Your individualism is below the need of the many. This is how families survived traditionally. Children are duty-bound to take care of their families. They have to study in whatever field their parents wish to see us study. When I went to school at University of Dayton, more than half of the Vietnamese student population majored in computer science and electrical engineering. Many told me they didn't want to. It was competitive and difficult. A few wanted to be artists or architects and so on, but their parents were poor or were still in Vietnam. They needed to find a solid footing in America in order to help out the rest of the family.

The America culture stresses independence, on the other hand. It tells you to look out for number one, to have individual ambition, take care of yourself first, and go on a quest. The United States is a country of diversity. It’s possible to be successful in any type of profession. What matters most is if you are happy with what you are doing. The Vietnamese American conflict is one where he has to negotiate between his own needs and dreams with that of his family.

I myself was lucky. My parents found jobs a few months after they came here. I did not have to make money to send home to someone in Vietnam. However, I was having an identity crisis. My parents wanted me to study nursing. I did not know if I was going to school for my parents or myself. I did not know who I was anymore or who I wanted to be. But finally, I decided to get a bachelor degree in Accounting. My parents weren’t pleased, but were happy on my graduation day. In some way, for Asian immigrants, to learn to negotiate between the I and the We is the most

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