Archive for December, 2006

Happy Holi-daze

Just wanted to wish everyone a peaceful and safe Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Heh, I’m such a scrooge but the lessons of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” haven’t been lost on me so I wish you all a happy holiday full of good food, lots of laughter with friends and family and may none of you find coal in your Christmas stockings!

And let me not forget these. They just get more intersting all the time. Bah! Humbug!:

vietnamese people adoption
why korea throws babies away
“american girl” doll asian
china doll syndrome
“angry at white people”
Vietnam war shot to the head
gears war Kim asian

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Before I reached my thirties, it was inconceivable that those words could be written into the same sentence. Looking back, it’s crazy how I went from total ignorance to hidden curiosity and from absolute shame to rebellious pride mixed with feelings of exclusion. Exactly what is the reason for my pride? The shared heritage of which I cannot relate? My experiences and story seem absent from this video that asks, “Are you Vietnamese American?” and then ends with “You might be Vietnamese American when…” I want to add my own to reflect my experiences.

You might be Vietnamese American adoptee if…
you feel uncomfortable around other Vietnamese.
you grew up thinking Phúc was a dirty word.
you ate phở before you could properly pronounce it.
you thought you were white before other kids called you “gook”.
dumbshits ever suggested your Vietnamese mom might have been a prostitute.
other Vietnamese looked at you funny when you tried to speak Vietnamese.
neighbors looked accusingly at you when their dogs went missing.

I could go on and on. Of course, there are places where lines of experience cross but most of my experiences as a TRA-first-generation-immigrant veer off into the realm of the weird and sadly humorous. It’s so frustrating and alienating because there are just some places into which my fluid identity can never flow. Over the years, I’ve slowly begun to come to terms with this but have yet to find true consolation despite finding those who do share my experiences as an adoptee. Ahhh, I’m never satisfied.

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Thank you for the long hours
you worked as a school secretary
to fill my belly with spicy red beans,
corn bread and sauced barbecue steaks.
Thank you for teaching me to grow
tomatoes, squash and okra
in the family garden.

I’m sorry that all you provided
couldn’t nourish the part of me
that still craves giant bowls of phở,
self-constructed rolls of gỏi cuốn
and the sweet taste of chè.
I’m sorry that the hours
you spent sweating
over a stove left me hungry
right after I’d left the table.

Thank you for the nights
you cradled me in arms
that were themselves empty
of another’s companionship.

I’m sorry that after you’d spent
hours rocking me to sleep,
I still longed for
and dreamt of Má.

Thank you for everything
that I never thanked you for
when I was a child.

I’m sorry for no longer
feeling grateful as I did
when I was a child.

Not particularly meant to be good. Just needed to get it out of my system if you know what I mean.

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Helping the Youth of Vietnam

In my sidebar, there’s a link to the “Street Kids in Vietnam” blog which talks about the work of the “Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, a grassroots charity working in Vietnam with street kids and the poorest of the poor”. They do some great work to help the “street kids” of Vietnam.

Thanks to CR for his email about Koto which was founded by Jimmy Pham to provide vocational training for Vietnamese kids in need.

“KOTO is about creating a safe environment where a small group of extremely vulnerable young people can learn and grow – because through education and skills comes empowerment and the path to a brighter future.”

Mr Jimmy Pham, KOTO Founder and Director

The concept of KOTO began on the streets of Hanoi in 1996 when an Australian Vietnamese man, Mr Jimmy Pham, asked a group of street kids what they wanted out of life. They simply replied, “we need skills so we can find stable jobs” and so the concept of KOTO was born.

In just five years, KOTO has grown from a small sandwich shop in Hanoi to a 120-seat restaurant and an internationally accredited hospitality program that gives some very special young people the start in life that everyone deserves.

Today KOTO is recognised for its dynamic restaurant and its effective grassroots development project that is breaking the cycle of poverty amongst street and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam.

Street Voices supports the KOTO Hanoi Restaurant and KOTO Training Program by holding fundraising events in Australia and raising the profile of Vietnamese street and disadvantaged youth.

The young people in the KOTO program study hospitality skills and English, and take part in an essential life skills program. They gain practical skills working at the KOTO restaurant.

KOTO graduates complete the program as confident and capable young adults who are able to take control of their own lives. They are highly valued by the hospitality industry in Vietnam and many now work in top hotels and restaurants in Hanoi.

KOTO continues to grow and develop as many more street kids and disadvantaged youth pass through its doors and go onto successful careers. KOTO hopes to become a model that can be adopted elsewhere in Vietnam, Asia and in other countries in need.

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Blog Break

Will be on another short blog break. Too many things to do! My copy of Outsider’s Within arrived yesterday. Did the dedication make anyone else want to cry and say, Finally ? I’m sure it’s only the beginning.

Before running off, I thought I’d copy some of my fellow bloggers and share some of the search terms that have brought visitors to my blog.

vietnamese orphans mixed race
angry kads
chinky vietnamese people
chinky doll
daughter of danang evil
asian in need
surname lê vietnamese translation
Chinese Adoptions gone wrong
china doll adoption
oriental ethicity
kill sume time ,com
positive adoption effects of children

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

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Recently, I read an article on Racialicious about race and video games. As with movies and tv shows, it’s getting to where I can’t even enjoy my video games without thinking about race and stereotypes. What’s a person to do? Perhaps, I should give up gaming as a form of stress-release and take up jogging.

For several weeks now, I’ve been humming the Gary Jules version of “Mad World” which is the theme song of the Gears of War trailer. I’ve been anticipating the game’s release ever since the trailer was featured on Xbox Live. I rarely buy a game before it goes on sale and figured it’d be months before I’d be able to get my hands on a copy. Coughing up sixty bucks for a new game seems just plain crazy. Fortunately due to a bet between two people other than myself, I was able to acquire one. (Don’t ask, it’s complicated.)

As I work my way through the different checkpoints, enters Lieutenant Minh Young Kim. Hey there’s an Asian guy in the game. But wait, what’s up with the name? Is he Vietnamese? Korean? Both? Or…did someone just pick some common Asian names at random and stick them together thinking no one would notice? The character bio doesn’t say anything about ethnicity. At least he was given the strong characteristic of being a “a proud, dedicated and ambitious soldier”. He’s a model minority kind of “Gear” despite his “run of bad luck” and having to lead the “misfits of Delta squad”.

So I start looking more closely at the cd cover. Hmmm…no ambiguously Asian dude there. I see Marcus Fenix, Dominic Santiago, and a masked Private Carmine. Maybe he’s been relegated to the back instead. Hmmm…nope not there either, just Fenix, Dom, Damon Baird and “Cole Train” (eh? more stereotypes anyone?). Poor Token-Generic-Asian-Man, you don’t even get a place on the cover. Could it possibly get any worse?

I continue to work my way through the game thinking that at least he’s there. Despite everything, I’m comforted by his presence. Never mind that I’m killing and maiming my way through the game as a big, hairy white guy. Lieutenant Kim is my man, my brother-in-arms and we’re going to save the world together. I feel the urge to give him a virtual hug as we reach the end of Act 1 and await the King Raven helicopter that’s coming to evacuate us.

Begin cinematic sequence (warning: contains violent scenes that some may find offensive). Noooooo! I watch helplessly as Kim is ruthlessly skewered by General RAAM. WTF?! He didn’t even make it past Act 1?! No wonder he wasn’t on the cover. I suddenly felt the need to whip out my lancer assault rifle and get in some serious chainsaw action on my Gears of War cd.

So now I must go on to save the world, a small Asian woman in a big, white dude’s body without my bald, Asian-fusioned, shallowly bio’d, expendable comrade. It’s a mad, mad world indeed.

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