A Sunflower Grows
Written by Anh Duong
I was born and raised in Texas, which makes me 100% American, or so I thought.
For this reason, I never thought I would survive a trip to Vietnam without my parents. When I was asked to join a small group of Vietnamese-Americans on a trip to my parents’ birthplace, I was reluctant for a number of reasons—but mostly, I knew it was because I was afraid to know what my life could have been like. The more I learned about the Vietnam War, the aftermath, and the effects on those who survived and those who escaped, the more I was ridden with guilt that more than half of my relatives were still in Saigon.
The trip was scheduled for the end of May 2006—I would be completing my Master’s degree and moving to New York City. It was a time in my life for drastic changes. Luckily, my best friend and I decided the trip would be a worthwhile experience and an opportunity to do something together as we were both preparing to embark on new journeys in our lives—I would be moving alone to the Big Apple and Karen would soon be married to her high school sweetheart.
Being in Vietnam made me realize there existed another side to me that I could only understand by traveling to the place that made my parents—the place where the culture of my family was born.
So we began our mission with a group of 10 Americans and spent nearly 2 weeks traveling around Southern Vietnam. The objective of the trip was to allow conversational and cultural exchange between Vietnamese students and American students. With our agenda so strategic and organized, I didn’t know how I would feel. It didn’t take long before we became attached to the country and its children.
Karen, Tu Anh and the kids