Would you visit the land of your ancestors, if you had a chance of knowing your family’s origin?
I was born an American in Texas, but I also grew up on Vietnamese traditions from practicing Buddhism, eating Vietnamese food, speaking Vietnamese to my friends to celebrating Tết aka Lunar New Year at our local Vietnamese Center. I was very grateful to be so close to Vietnamese Culture in Northern Virginia.
Lunar New Year has always been my favorite holiday of the year. As a child, we would see all of our parents friends and we would wish them a happy new year. In turn, they gave us a red envelope with money inside. How could you not be so proud of your heritage when other Americans did not have a chance to celebrate one extra holiday.
I was fortunate to have grown up in a diverse area where my friends were all shades of every color. I knew I was different from my other American friends. Obviously, my looks were very different being of Asian descent but I mean that my personality was slightly different. I was a very shy girl growing up, but as I got older I had a very vocal presence in speaking my mind. My personality was so strong that it could have rubbed people the wrong way. Sometimes, I just didn’t even realize how I could come off to people. I just thought that was just a part of who I was and definitely an influence of my mother’s strong personality.
When I traveled to the Motherland with my mother in 2016 for the first time, I learned how matriarchal our society was. Women would tend to handle the family business including the finances. Men would bring home the money and women were responsible for taking care of the payments for things. My strong, outspoken, independent personality was really tied to the kind of women we were back home. I realized why I was the way I was because it was in my blood. My very being was defined by my ancestors in who they were.
There is this fulfillment when your body calls you back to the motherland because you are somehow tied to the land of your ancestors. You are the product of your environment and that really includes your origin, If you can visit the mother land of your ancestors and honor them by showing up. Your blood is their blood and when you honor your ancestors with your presence it is showing them that you are continuing on their legacy and they have not been forgotten.