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I own two books from local authors I know:

Tran Khan Khuyet  Little Weaver of Thai-Yen Village. It is out of print but you can find used copies online.  The book illustrates the life of young Vietnamese girl whose life is interrupted by the Viet Nam war.

The second is Going Home Coming Home by Truong Tran. This story follows a girl on her first time journey to visit Viet Nam.

They’re both excellent books with substance, colorful illustrations, and written in both languages.  Non-Vietnamese folks or books that are translated into Vietnamese. Hint—we need more children book authors in our community!

Adopt Vietnam has a recommended reading list as well.  Do you have any bilingual book recommendations?

Remember These

Remember These

I was googling and found a yahoo forum on the topic of spanking in Vietnamese culture.  Sure, I knew plenty of moms and dads who spanked their kids when I was growing up.  How many of us have military dads?  I do. They have a certain way of punishment.   Sure, I was spanked a total of 5 times but it stopped after I turned 8.    He spanked me with that bamboo feather duster.  My dad announced that my punishment would occur in ten minutes and I sat in my room dreading the moment.  By the third time, I figured out to stuff my underpants with CHARMIN in that short time period before I was to report to the living room for my whippin’.

I learned my lessons.  I’m not saying I advocate spanking but it did do me some good.  I knew not to lie to my dad after that.   Certainly it does exist in our culture–Viet parents are strict.

Any one else spanked with the slipper or feather duster?

Yesterday I took Kai to see his great grandparents. It’s not the storybook type of visit in the American sense. You know where great grandma’s house would be a cute cottage tucked away from the city. First, my ba noi’s house is not a house. Actually it’s a studio not more than 400 square feet in the heart of the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. They moved in during the early 90s. Of course their landlord has been trying to pay them out at 15K to move out so they can rent the place for triple. It’s never going to happen because ba noi refuses to be displaced.

Though it is hectic to walk through the grittiness of the TL to arrive at their place, it is well worth it. Inside I always discover new relatives that recently arrived from Viet Nam who are enthusiastic to talk about ESL classes at City College. Yesterday I was particularly impressed that we packed about 20 people in their studio. We ate banh beo, goi cuon, and bun bo hue while sitting on those mini plastic stools or on the floor. For a moment, I felt like I was in one those Spencer Nakasako documentaries. But even better, it’s our life. No matter how much upward mobility Kai and I may experience, his great grandparents will always keep us grounded.