Both of my parents are from Vietnam and such I have grown up with the Vietnamese/Asian culture all my life. However, I was born here in America and when I began to attend school, this Asian culture began to fade. There was a heavy emphasis on me achieving high grades so I needed to learn the English language. I feel that from here on I began to “dilute” my existing Asian culture and began to adopt the American culture within my own life. Though both cultures have aspects and habits that reside within me, I think that it worries those of the older generations of my family that this culture and tradition is being slowly washed out among the younger ones.
As I grew up, I became more absorbed in America, through its schools, people, television, etc. At some point, I lost the ability to speak Vietnamese, the first language I was able to speak. I had spent so much time in contact with the English language that it eventually became my primary language. Now, I have trouble speaking in Vietnamese, though at the very least I am able to understand what others are saying. Also, the best i can manage is basic phrases and responses that I make on reflex when being talked to in Vietnamese. In addition, when looking back on the readings, especially DeVita chapter 6, I have noticed that I have a tendency to be overly casual with my elders if I am not a stranger to them. My parents have scolded me about this on occasion, but most of the time it just flies over my head. Slowly over the years, I began to embrace the idea of being independent, trying not to rely on others or follow in someone else’s path. My mother had a strong desire for me to go into the medical field in the future, but I refused and am now studying in the engineering field. Though it may annoy her, me trying to forge a path different than what is expected or desired of me is something that I am proud of.
Despite all this, there remains aspects of my Asian culture that I hold dear to me. First and foremost, my family is of the utmost importance to me. Though I may not openly show it, the traditional Asian ideal that the family is held above all else is something I still believe in. Both this and last year, I have spent large sums of money for gifts for my sister. I still address those older than me within my family with the proper titles in Vietnamese, unlike I do with those outside my family. Though I have forgotten much of the language, I hope to one day be able to learn it again so I can communicate with my family in our native tongue.
If I were to describe myself in terms of my culture, I would have to say that I am Vietnamese but a very Americanized one. It may not be actually “bad,” but I would still like to keep my family’s original culture alive as we grow over time. I can be who I want to be, but I should never forget the roots of where I came from.