Her story

She is the 4th child of her parents. Ordinary Vietnamese fisherman’s family. The world around them were drastically changing and her father made the plans to escape. At schools, the teachers have been tasked by the powers that be to find out if anyone is planning to leave.. so they told the students “let us know if your family is planning to escape, we will do everything we can to help you”. The month before they finally escaped, the local dentist’s son told his teacher about their plan to escape and that night the army came, hung the father to death, beat the mother who was 7 months pregnant till she lost the baby and then threw them out of their own home.

When they initially made the plan to escape her mother was 3 months pregnant and when they finally managed to organize everything, she had already gone in to labor and her father had to make the decision to leave without his wife and newborn baby.

Their ship first sailed to Malaysia and her oldest sister fell sick. Malaysia didn’t allow them to dock the boat and they proceeded to Indonesia and her sister died during the journey. When the boat reached the harbour, they told the Indonesian authorities that they have many dead bodies in their boat and others require medical attention. Indonesian authorities asked them to throw a body off the boat as a proof. Inside the boat, the remaining passengers drew the name card of her oldest sister and her body was thrown overboard. They were allowed to dock and get assistance. Her father swam around the harbour for a week in search of his daughter’s body and grieve still that he could never give her a proper burial.

German government gave them visa to come to Germany. It took them five years before they managed to smuggle their mother and the youngest sister out of Vietnam.

Two illiterate parents then raised 5 children in Germany. She said it was tough, being caught in two worlds. Inside home, they were Vietnamese, they ate Vietnamese food, spoke Vietnamese and visited other Vietnamese. But in school she was a German. She spoke German and did everything her German classmates did.

She eventually met another Vietnamese refugee in Germany, married him. He supported her through Uni. Today she is the MD of one of fortune 500 companies.

I had breakfast at her house. There was 4 different types of cheese, rye bread, croissant, butter and jam. She, her kids and her husband spoke German to each other. So I asked her, how come she didn’t teach her kids Vietnamese? She said, her children are Germans and therefore they should learn German.

I admired her for a lot of reasons.

Her genuine affection and concern, her ability to live the life she wanted to live and for ensuring that her kids won’t go through the duality of culture and associated confusion.

Every time I think my life sucks big time, I meet someone who has more right to complain and still don’t.

7 thoughts on “Her story

  1. Things that people go through. I agree, every time that we think our life sucks, there comes someone who has a story to tell and tells it without any prejudice towards life. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. “I had breakfast at her house. There was 4 different types of cheese, rye bread, croissant, butter and jam. She, her kids and her husband spoke German to each other. So I asked her, how come she didnโ€™t teach her kids Vietnamese? She said, her children are Germans and therefore they should learn German.

    I admired her for a lot of reasons.

    Her genuine affection and concern, her ability to live the life she wanted to live and for ensuring that her kids wonโ€™t go through the duality of culture and associated confusion.

    Your friend is very wise and really does think beyond in which most people don’t….

    I just never understand why people have to be confused about their identity. Regardless of where one is born and raised, let them construct their own identity and let them be whoever they aspire to be. I read on certain forums about people complaining they don’t feel they belong in the dominant society or in the their parents’ community, because they don’t possess 100% of all traits that some think is “required” to be this or that. Like really why have to choose? Yea people will say “you’re not American because you look Chinese..blah blah” or “You are too American to be whatever…” but what do they know? Why don’t you just expose yourself to various cultures and incorporate things that resonate with you? I mean I definitely have the American outlook, but there’s a sense of Indianess in me that I possess and am deeply attached to. I may not belong in either society as well, but I don’t give a crap about that. I at least am myself.

    And don’t get started on this identity politics shit (aka, you are not this because you don’t speak this or do this…etc). It’s utterly ridiculous.

    Also to add, your friend is letting her kids to be themselves and is not hounding her culture onto them like I see so many people do. I bet one of these days, they will be very interested about their mom’s culture and will know more about it, and perhaps start embracing more of their Vietnamese heritage (which is pretty cool since I lived with a Viet family for almost two years). The opposite effect of forcing a certain culture or live a certain way causes nothing but resentment.

      • No, I’m not saying they have to or it should be forced to embrace a culture. Just in general, kids IMO naturally get curious at one point in life regarding their parents’ lives and stuff, and they probably would be interested in learning about their parents’ native culture despite them being German, American..etc. I seen it so many times. However, your friend is wise that she’s not shoving them to follow a particular culture and just let her kids be who they are. If they want to be German, they are German and there’s nothing wrong with that. But forcing a particular culture onto someone causes backlash and resentment. Been there and seen that with many. Not saying your friend’s kids have to know their mom’s history..etc, but at one point they may take interest to know more about it later on.

        • J1206: One of the reason parents force their culture on their children is due to the fear of children not learning who they are..like their roots.. There is a fear of not carrying the cultural torch to your kids..You seem to have the same ideology that kids would want to know about their heritage and carry the cultural torch because it is a cool thing.. What you don’t understand is, it is perfectly fine not knowing your roots.. Generations of Americans have created a new identity after they arrived from their own native lands to US. I have known third generation Finnish Americans who know nothing about their Finnish culture, but are proud to be Americans and identify themselves as Americans. You can be German and of Vietnamese origin and not know a thing about being Vietnamese.

          • It’s not really an ideology I have, it was just my experiences as I know a few who just naturally gained the interest. I was just stating my perspectives based on the post. And of course it’s perfectly fine to not know your roots, that’s why I mentioned it should not be forced and should be up to the individual if they want to know or not. No right or wrong, and cultures shift and change all the time anyway, so many parts of that cultural torch will die out overtime even among the native countries where the culture is heavily prevalent (India is a huge example of its rapidly changing culture). So matter how bad they want to, parents will never be able to pass down everything regardless where they live and what society they are a part of.

            So in my words, just live and let live.

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