It is so easy to forget where you came from. Or, if not forget, then willingly want to put that poverty-stricken landscape—the plight of those millions of desperately needy men, women and children—behind you. This can easily happen when you come to the United States from a Third World County such as my homeland, Vietnam, where many people are so poor that they work all day for the equivalent of one dollar. Whether you come from my tiny country or from Africa, India, China, Central or South America, etc., it may be human to want to move forward without looking backward. But it is also terribly wrong, and makes me very sad.
I have never forgotten where I come from, nor has my husband. We have both been so fortunate in our lives and in our careers. It is in our nature to want to give back. We also want our daughters to learn to be most generous to those in need. They will learn, I believe, not by what we say, but by what we do. In everything a parent does, they are setting an example. It is important to create new generations with empathy and a global view of how we are all connected—because we are! And now, with the World wide Web, we all can see how deeply connected we human beings are.
It has been 47 years since the Vietnamese-American war ended. Much has happened in my country. There is a rising middle class. But yet, of the population of 89.71 million there (as of 2013), two-thirds are still living way below the poverty line. They urgently need greater access to better food, water, medical care and most of all—education.
A number of Vietnamese have migrated to the United States, but at present there are only about 1.74 million of us (based on a 2010 census) in this country. Most have settled in the more familiar warm climates on the west coast, specifically California, Texas and Florida. The second generation speaks English as their first language. Some have intermarried with Westerners and their children are more American than Vietnamese. There is a cost to this: but that is another topic I will address in a future blog. Read More