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.