by Cindy Au

In my not-so-young but still-very-impressionable mind, the following words of wisdom are like good wine: “To know where we are going, we must know where we come from.” With age, they accumulate more layers of depth and become richer in meaning.

Today, as I boarded a Boeing 777-300ER plane embarking on my first work camp with Sunflower Mission with my little sister, I couldn’t help but feeling like this is a part of our destiny, my sister and I. We are returning to our root, to find the people we are to become. 

To say that I am Vietnamese and that I come from Vietnam at times feels like an overly simplistic, if not lazy, statement. For one thing, while I spent the most formative years of my childhood growing up in our motherland, a large part of my current identity is shaped by my experience growing into adulthood as a first-generation, ethnically-Chinese Vietnamese American. As if that isn’t complicated enough, Vietnam is a dynamic, fast-changing country; to say that I know the one and only Vietnam would be boastful and dishonest at best. 

And so what am I looking for on this journey ? The timeless things that will always be true. 

I hope from this I find the common source of pride we all share...in our beautiful country, and the resilient, hardworking, self-sacrificing, and hospitable people with which it is populated. 

I hope to be a glimpse of hope, for those who are not so fortunate...to show that even a little girl growing up in one of the most impoverished regions of Vietnam can ‘study’ her way to one of the most admired companies in the World and from there, having the means to give back.

I hope to be inspired by the children and people whose lives we will come across. May their optimism and determination in reaching for a better life teach us more about our blessings and not taking them for granted. 

And I hope from this, I will learn how to best give back...to the country, and people who have taught and given me so much.