Where I Come From

Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

It was a humid and tense night. My dad flipped a table full of china plates and beer cans, because my mom refused to make a dish for his guests. She said she was tired from a full shift that day at her job. When I came downstairs, he was already gone; the only thing he left was broken glass and ceramics for me to clean. My mom never spoke out about the incident again. As I swept, I remember feeling so angry because of their idea of family hierarchy. In Vietnamese culture, the father has the last say on everything, because he is the only one who earns money for the family. Apparently, by refusing to make him a dish, my mom had shamed our family.

This ancient belief about male supremacy and female submission aggravated me, so I swore to achieve more than my ancestors ever believed possible. I want to prove them wrong by accomplishing more than what they think I am capable of. To the Vietnamese, a perfect girl would be pale, reserved, and dainty. To achieve this, I would have to stay indoors to keep my skin light, remain quiet to avoid being outspoken, and avoid heavy chores to remain slender. A “perfect Vietnamese girl” to me is weak. Instead of becoming subversive, my personal background has inspired me to beocme an independent, self-motivated person.

My greatest aspiration is to earn my own living and furnish my own home, so I’m training to become the best in both worlds: to keep a clean house with full meals on the table while paying my own bills. I always watch my mom to pick up her motherly habits like making sure that everyone has enough to eat. I learn how to cook balanced meals to also care for myself so I don’t need to rely on someone else to feed me. I also ask my father about the mortgage on our house and discuss why I will need to help him pay it in the near future.

I dream about a household where man and wife communicate with one another on the same level. Currently, I dread eating dinner with my family, because of the imbalances that persist. Although the food is great, dinnertime mainly consists of either silent eating or tense conversations about how my grades are going. Our dinners’ atmospheres don’t invite open conversations because my parents, with their traditional ethics, will shoot down any ideas they deem out of line. Unlike my family dinners now, my husband and I will share our opinions and debate; open minds at the table will tie my family together. I can achieve this dream by continuing my schooling so that I will always be able to bring intelligent conversation to my family and friends. 

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