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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Mother (as in maternal parent) (04/24/08)

TITLE: tinh me yeu con
By dub W
04/25/08


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I sat and watched them, a mother and daughter. The twelve year old stood nearly a head taller than her mother and possessed a youthful beauty that betrayed her origins. Five years in the United States had given the child a completely new diet compared to her parent’s routine of fish heads and rice or occasional Ca Cuon – a spring roll with some shred of meat. Now the young woman was consuming hamburgers and steaks, and only rarely dining on her parent’s former dishes.

Her mother told me that cooking in America was so different from their life in the hills of Vietnam and Malaysia. I can well imagine. Mother, father, and two daughters had escaped Vietnam after the U.S. involvement. They had, until five years ago, lived in a resettlement/interment camp in Malaysia. This twelve year old had never known her native country, because she was born in the camp.

The younger woman held her mother around the shoulders. The twelve year old was getting help with her middle school English class, while her mother was my charge. The U.S. State Department offered no training for the adult women. In the interment camp any language education was reserved for the men, although missionaries had visited and worked with the children.

The mother watched me carefully as I wrote on the board, “Jesus loves me. Jesus loves you. Jesus loves us. Jesus loves them.”

Suddenly, the daughter began to softly sing. “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
I glanced at my student. Her eyes glistened with pride. I was choked up too. Mother/daughter bonds are often rare in our Western culture and nuclear families. But, just for an instant, I got to see a deep love of a mother and her daughter, which is apparently common in a Vietnamese family.

According to a respected attorney and published author, Huynh Dinh Te, the (Vietnamese) mother is the embodiment of love and the spirit of self-denial and sacrifice. The family, according to Dinh Te, is a highly connected and interwoven matrix, built on love and respect. Multiple generations live under one roof. Rest homes and senior citizen centers are unheard of.

It is no wonder that the daughter held her mother’s shoulders and sang to her. The young woman left our room to go to her own class. My student took a small Kleenex box from her bag and wiped her eyes. She watched her daughter all the way down the hallway. I borrowed a tissue from her package and also wiped my eyes.

“Dau-ter.” I pointed down the hallway as I pronounced the word.

She looked up at me, smiled, and whispered, “yes.”

-----------------
Writer's note: Translation of the title of this piece (accents not included): A mother's love for her children.


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This article has been read 745 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 05/01/08
Your story is fascinating. (my husband was born in Laos… I've heard a few stories concerning that country). This was beautifully written. I love the Vietnamese title (and the translation). I liked learning a little about their family and culture.
Marilyn Schnepp 05/04/08
Although the title turned me off to the point of almost skipping it, I'm glad I had second thoughts; for it was a very touching and beautiful story of mother/daughter love.

Explanation: (My reluctance to read this entry was that the writer was either a very bad typist or the story wasn't in English).(*.*)!
c clemons05/04/08
Well written article although I don't agree with the statment that "it is a rare thing the mother/daughter bond here in the western world" Have you heard of Mother's Day? Dear heart that wasn't started by a male.
Sara Harricharan 05/07/08
This was like a tiny window from where I could see something happening in that fraction of a second as a passerby. I liked the interaction between the mother/daughter. It was special and very touching. Especially where she sang "Jesus loves me." Wonderful. ^_^
Joanne Sher 05/07/08
Lovely snippet of the blessings of tutoring foreigners, and the beauty of a mother/daughter relationship that transcends borders and language. I loved the history of the Vietnamese culture as well. Nicely done, Dub.
Janice Cartwright05/07/08
While I am not personally acquainted with anyone of Vietnamese origin, my sil from Thailand came here shortly after her marriage to my dh's brother, and then speaking only her native tongue. The family loyalties and deep devotions must be similar to those in Vietnam for I saw how she carried those over to her new and strange American family. All this is to say I found your article to be very authentic and I could easily identify with the sensitivities of the Vietnamese mother and her daughter. Whew! What a mouthful. Good writing. I enjoyed it very much.
Joshua Janoski05/08/08
A very informative piece that fit this week's topic perfectly. I liked that this story had educational value to it. It was an engaging read, and I came away knowing a little bit about Vietnamese culture. Thank you for sharing this. :)
Dee Yoder 05/08/08
Lovely account of learning a new language in a new land.