Posted in Concepts, Culture, Events, Quotes, Technology

Part 2: Navigating Political Discussion with Family Members

Hello! Yesterday I posted some philosophical thoughts in Part 1: Reflections on “The Drowning Child”. I concluded that post with this question which I wanted to explore more in depth today:

If we are obligated to save the life of a child in need, is there a fundamental difference between saving one who is right in front of us and one on the other side of the world?”

– Saania

However, as I was editing this post, it evolved into something else, and I have to explore it in Part 3.

Recognizing Societal Illness

One of my favorite books is called “Teachings on Love” by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk and Zen master who resides in the Plum Village monastery in France. He occasionally visits the West and leads mindfulness retreats. He’s dismayed when he finds suffering as the result of behaviors passed on from one generation to the next.

There is a deep malaise in society. When we put a young person in this society without trying to protect him, he receives violence, hatred, fear, and insecurity every day, and eventually he gets sick. Our conversations, TV programs, advertisements, newspapers, and magazines all water the seeds of suffering in young people, and not-so young people as well.

Thich Nhat Hanh

He further describes how we put ourselves in an unhealthy vacuum and offers a suggestion:

Taking refuge in these things [smoking, TV, overworking, eating, drinking] only makes us feel hungrier and less satisfied, and we want to ingest more. We need some guidelines, some preventative medicine, to protect ourselves, so we can be healthy again. We have to find a cure for our illness. We have to find something good, beautiful, and true in which we take refuge.

Thich Nhat Hanh

How Do We Even Begin to Heal?

Politics has always been a sensitive topic in my family. I suspect it’s typical for many families. My family prioritized harmony and preservation of familial bonds over open, heated debates all throughout my life. Dad never wanted the children to get upset and shielded us from most of these topics. I was grateful that my childhood and young adult life was relatively pleasant.

Quietly smiling at the irony of my blog name, “Culture Shocks”, I try to avoid talking about it here as well because this blogging space is my “relax and unwind zone”. However, I’m currently in figurative knots, and I’m on the search for understanding.

Now that my siblings and I are all adults, we now see how aspects of politics affect various facets of our lives. More discussions are cropping up during our phone calls. We’re talking things out and sifting various sources together trying to discern real news and fake news dissemination, but it’s gotten a bit sophisticated.

A while back I watched an episode, “Deepfake”, of Madam Secretary where I learned about the concept of deep fake technology. Seeing how easily it was to get society to get riled up and affect the decisions of each respective country’s leaders was quite alarming.

Deepfake technology enables anyone with a computer and an Internet connection to create realistic-looking photos and videos of people saying and doing things that they did not actually say or do.

Rob Toews, Forbes contributor on AI. “Deepfakes Are Going To Wreak Havoc On Society. We Are Not Prepared.”

The pressure is building. My mother and my uncle, in particular, are wanting me to vote in a particular direction, but the current state of American politics is stressful and rife with scandal.

I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place, and many times, I feel tempted not to vote at all. Yet to avoid participation, is making a decision too. It was easier to vote in local elections that impact the community I’m in. I feel like I relate to very few candidates on the national scale. Regardless of whether or not I relate well, I have to take into account how it will affect the nation as a whole.

Last year, I was really surprised to see Marianne Williamson make an appearance as a candidate. She seemed so refreshingly out of place, yet brilliantly addressed various inequities. She wrote a book called “Healing the Soul of America“.

Though I hold her in utmost high regard as a spiritual healer, I’m not sure the pursuit of presidential ambitions would be a good vocation for her. I appreciate her activism and influence and feel that she is more effective outside of the political sphere or at least nearby political circles as an advisor. Similar to how Billy Graham served as a spiritual advisor and counselor to several U.S. leaders. If she attained a presidential role, I feel that her idealism will be snuffed out in the day-to-day responsibilities and pragmatic and, at times, ruthless decisions. I certainly don’t want that to happen as she serves a vital role in society.

Choosing a leader for the melting pot of our nation seems to be an herculean task. I study their platform, their past history and track record, any changes they have publicly made to their stance. I was fascinated by the ideological beliefs of political giants such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, and Tulsi Gabbard. I was intrigued by Republican nominee, Bill Weld, and his impressive record of fighting public corruption cases. Trump has been the most beguiling of them all, and has been featured in all types of media.

The Search to Find Common Ground

A few nights ago, mom and I had a discussion about the current American political landscape and the upcoming election. I implore her to look at the big picture and view the potential impact of each candidate. Economic, health, education, and immigration policies are important to her.

She highlighted a point about Joe Biden and how he didn’t support the evacuation of Vietnamese refugees back in the 1970’s. Seeing how this decision would have impacted my ability to be here in the states in the first place and being the curious person that I am, I decide to look for various sources:

Yet Senator Biden, the future vice president, then at the age of 31, fiercely maintained that the U.S. had “no obligation, moral or otherwise, to evacuate foreign nationals,” dismissing concerns for their safety as the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong swept south toward Saigon in 1975….

LA Progressive by STEPHEN FOX March 7, 2020

President Gerald Ford was upset with Biden’s response at the time:

The United States has had a long tradition of opening its doors to immigrants of all countries. We’ve always been a humanitarian nation. We felt that a number of these South Vietnamese deserved an opportunity to live in freedom.

Washington Examiner article by Jerry Dunleavy, July 4, 2019

Kissinger said there were Vietnamese to whom we have an obligation, but Biden responded: “I will vote for any amount for getting the Americans out. I don’t want it mixed with getting the Vietnamese out.”

It seems clear here where all the decision makers stood here on this issue. Biden was patriotic and perhaps more of a nationalist than President Ford at the time. As I’m trying to remain even-keeled, I remember a memory of a time I spent at one of my first sociology meetings at the university after I introduced myself and my family’s background.

One of the leaders of the organization listened and responded:

At the time, the United States government sent so many American soldiers to Vietnam to fight and it was such a bloody war. Many Americans were very upset of losing so many of their loved ones on the front lines and felt that the effort was futile. Can you imagine how the American population felt about Vietnam as a whole?

Understandably, I can see why Joe Biden have felt this way. When you have witnessed the destruction that a senseless war has caused, you feel to the weight of the burdens of all your constituents and the people you serve. How can I even think about helping others when I can’t even help my own? He must have felt embittered at such loss and wanted nothing to do with the people who were influenced by their government to commit these heinous acts.

The US responded just as ruthlessly with a chemical warfare program called Operation Ranch Hand. Agent Orange, not only contaminated the health of the Viet Cong soldiers who were hiding in the forests, but also millions of innocent citizens and various animal species that lived nearby. Defoliants made it difficult to rebuild the forest habitat and the reparations for the damage done is still devastating.

The Complexity of Multiple Sides of An Issue

I reflected back on how my parents felt when they first arrived. They too were traumatized and simultaneously grateful to be here. Though, my parents were not the Viet Cong, they were cautious about building friendships with the American people realizing that many were not supportive of sponsoring Vietnamese refugees.

The safe route was to be insular and be friends with those who have faced similar strife and shared experiences, and rebuild their lives from there. They worked very hard to try not to lean on various welfare programs too much as they were aware of marginalized groups abusing the system. Today, my parents’ quality of life is far better than if they were to have stayed in Vietnam.

There’s a certain mentality that countries can only help a small percentage of immigrants, otherwise the native population begins to feel threatened. Despite whatever plight these immigrants have faced in their homeland, both sides’ ways of life becomes disrupted when trying to welcome foreign populations with different values or at least live side by side.

There are so many sides to the issue. Some countries faced the consequence of allowing too many immigrants to enter their country without review only to have the newcomers rape the native women and children in the streets. Some immigrants become valuable business leaders in their adoptive country and help serve their new community however they can. The immigration offices are flooded with so many cases and processing each of them can be cumbersome…

I’ll wrap it up for now. Thank you again for following along my thoughts today!

Posted in Culture

Ethnicity Tag

Ahoy there! A month ago, I had the pleasure of virtually meeting a new follower, Stephanie @ Roses and Brimstone – A Little Heart with Extraordinary Passion! She wrote about her cultural background in a post called Ethnicity Tag which was fun and fascinating for me to read.

She was curious to learn where I came from and linked where she got her questions: 50+ Ethnicity Tag Questions. (Fortunately for you, I will not answer all 50 of them!) The site describes the distinction between race and ethnicity.

A few days ago, mom expressed to me how she was afraid of me “losing my heritage” (which I will describe another day). Since there are some new folks here, I thought this blog post would dive into a bit of that and perhaps share a little bit about me!

1.Which ethnicity do you belong to?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I am ethnically American and Vietnamese, and classified as Asian. I was born in Texas in the United States. My parents and my grandparents are from Qui Nhon, Vietnam, a beautiful coastal city. My 23&Me DNA results shows that my ancestors are from China/Vietnam region. 🙂

2. Which food represents your ethnicity?

There is such a variety in Vietnamese cuisine. Rice dishes are a staple. Pho is a famous dish that many people in America have had a chance to try. I keep mentioning it in past posts. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend you do so!

3. Which ethnic language are you perfect in?

Vietnamese is a tonal language and are distinguished by three main dialects which can be classified by region: North (Hanoi), South (Ho Chi Minh City), Central (Hue). Around 80 million people in the world speak Vietnamese and is in the top 20 most spoken languages. It has many Chinese and French influences. It used to written in Chinese letters, but now uses the Latin alphabet.

I wouldn’t describe it as perfect, but I spent a good chunk of my life studying the dialect from South-Central Vietnam. I can read, write, and speak it. However, I would consider myself at a limited proficiency level in Vietnamese. I am most fluent in English and enjoy the nuances of the language. I enjoyed studying English literature in college.

4. Do you have any ethnic name?

I go by many names: Sally, Lisa, but my ethnic name is Sa! Vietnamese parents typically like to name their daughters after lovely flowers or beautiful sentiments. It directly translates to silky gossamer. Combined with other other words, it can mean a host of things. (ie- kieu sa = lovely)

5. Which phrase of your ethnic language is your favorite?

  • Bạn khỏe không (Ban Kwe Khom) = How are you?
  • Cảm ơn (kahm uhn) = Thank you!

    The following proverb is something I enjoy:
  • Đi một ngày đàng học một sàng khôn. = A day of travelling will bring a basket full of learning.

6. Which clothes represent your ethnicity?

On special occasions such as Vietnamese holidays and weddings, I wear the traditional, gorgeous ao dai. I love the new modern styles that are coming out! If you want to view the glitz and glamorous side of Vietnamese fashion that’s trending, you can watch a renowned variety show called: Paris by Night.

Marriage gown

7. Which drink represents your ethnicity?

A few distinctive favorite drinks that I grew up with are: jasmine/green tea, coconut juice, soybean milk, grass jelly drink, sugar cane drink.

8. Which specific jewelry represents your culture?

Popular pieces are typically made of jade or gold. Images of dragons, Buddhas, crosses are common. Some of my favorite cultural pieces include: earrings, beaded peace bracelets, necklaces.

My favorite American pieces are Pandora charm bracelets or floating charm locket necklaces.

9. Which sport represents your ethnicity?

Vovinam, Dragon dance, dragon boat racing, cow racing, wrestling

Vietnamese Vovinam – martial arts
Dragon boat racing

10. Which ethnic song do I often listen to?

I’m a sucker for Korean dramas. They’re humorous, heart-breaking, or soul lifting. I just finished this Chinese drama remake called Meteor Garden. Though I have some qualms about the series, I enjoyed it. This beautiful song is not Vietnamese, but lately I’ve been listening to the entire soundtrack on replay.

Posted in Awards, Events, flashback, Nature, Quotes

Personal Life & Award Update

I hope everyone is well and healthy! Hence, the reason for my orange filled banner to encourage people to take care of their immune systems. 🙂

I want to apologize for my late blog posts for the A2Z challenge. I’m currently coping with the death of a friend who I had a real deep, caring connection with. For those of you who understands how that feels, it can be quite an emotional roller coaster. I’ve been sleeping and resting after being thrashed around by my feelings, memories, and thoughts.

Yet, I can just imagine him telling me, “Sa, hike with me. The beauty will surely make you feel better.” I will miss him dearly.

Imagine my smile when I woke up from my melancholic slumber to find a nomination in my inbox for The Real Neat Blog Award. This is actually the first time I’ve been nominated for this particular award. Thank you kindly James!

James has published a few books and possesses an otherworldly sort of imagination. One of the titles to his book, “The Haunting of a Marcasite“, surely has me intrigued. Stop by his blog for an interesting read and step into another world of memorable characters!

Rules For The Real Neat Blog Award :

  1. Display the Blog Logo in your blog.
    (I re-made my own banner, but you can find logos online. 🙂 )
  2. Thank the Blogger who nominated you.
  3. Do not forget to link to their blog for nominating you.
  4. Answer all the questions they have given you.
  5. Nominate 7 to 10 other Bloggers of your choice.
  6. Ask your Nominees 7 questions.

James’ questions:

What is your favorite place to get away to?
There are so many beautiful places in the world that I would like to visit, but I can only speak to places I’ve been to. There’s physical places where I’ve only visited once in my life.

Like… Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. Visited this wondrous place 11 years ago and its natural beauty astounded me as the captain navigated our boat between the rocks. I was in awe and wanted everyone I knew to experience this with me.

Image Credit: Forbes

Right now, in the midst of this “self-quarantine”, my favorite place to get away to is here on my blog as I drink a good cup of tea. I’ll be working on my challenges today and check out the worlds of other A2Z participants!

If, you choose to become a famous actor or screen writer? What would you choose?
I’ve really enjoy memorizing lines and acting in theater plays. I relish the idea of performing on stage playing a role and entering the mind of another character. Even though I enjoy creative writing on a small scale, I never really thought of screen writing before. Acting feels instinctual to me whereas writing requires a lot more work to imagine an extensive and cohesive plot line. I’ve known a lot of people who were highly skilled in it though. We tend to work together quite often!

What is your favorite holiday ? Why ?
It’s difficult for me to choose as it’s split between traditional and non-traditional holidays. There seems to be a holiday for anything and everything. There are some “holidays” that I celebrate everyday.

That being said, I’ve celebrated many holidays with friends and family. I enjoy the big, traditional holidays as they allow me to reconnect with loved ones such Christmas, Thanksgiving, Lunar New Year. However, I’ve had some very meaningful, quieter moments celebrating Passover, Veterans Day, Palm Sunday and Lent.

I also like World Water Day, Earth Day, Random Acts of Kindness, National Comic Book Day, and May the 4th be with You.

Ice skates or Rollerblade?
Ah! I love both equally. I have great memories for ice skating and rollerblading!

Style is that which indicates how the writer takes himself and what he is saying. It is the mind skating circles around itself as it moves forward.

Robert Frost

What are your favorite toppings to put a pizza ?
Pineapple, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives

A strawberry milkshake or a vanilla milkshake ?
Strawberry milkshake! I love strawberries! I found out that my birthday lands on National Pick Strawberries Day. 😉

What is the funniest show you have ever seen ?
Movie wise I kept laughing throughout “O Brother, Where Art Thou” & “Miss Congeniality”!

As for TV shows, it’s difficult for me to choose! There’s funny shows that I think I can only watch once like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Big Bang Theory, & Malcolm in the Middle. There’s other shows that I can watch more than once like How I Met Your Mother, Simpsons, or Gilmore Girls.

Bloggers Nominated:

  • America on Coffee: Coffee shops have been near and dear to my heart. I love the random assortment of music and shows that are shared.
  • Kate @ Holistic Life by Kate: Beautifully designed site, chock-full of mindful resources to help others live a better life.
  • Dr.Tanya @ Salted Caramel: The positive & sound advice she gives is a beacon of light. I appreciate her wisdom. She hosts “Blogging Insights Series” and shares great pointers.
  • Mr. A @ A Barbarian in Gentleman’s Clothing: Shares excellent book reviews and tips spoken from the wisdom of life experiences.
  • Sadje @ Keep it Alive: Her short stories and poetry tie in with wonderful lessons. She hosts “What do you see?” creative writing challenge.
  • Jay @ Fragrance Writer: He writes some beautiful poetry about fragrances, life experiences, and is willing to collaborate with other poets to create great works.
  • Tatiana @ Travelways: Her blog is incredibly rich with unique experiences and beautiful photos. It’s a visual delight!
  • Ann-Christine @ Leya She features some beautiful photos on her photo blog that bring a lot of peace to my life. Motto: “To see a world in a grain of sand…”
  • Zy Marquiez @ Breakaway Individual.com: He has written on an assorted array of topics from creative writing, culture, health and biotech with an interesting take on issues.
  • Dracul Van Helsing: Published Sherlock Holmes fanfiction & vampire novels; He also regularly writes intriguing fiction tales related to current events
  • Sandomina @ Insightful Geopolitics: Informative posts about the mysteries of space and global threats
  • The Alchemist Studio: Enjoy checking this studio’s pottery collection and listening to random thoughts and musings
  • Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau: I enjoy checking out her savory recipes and mouthwatering photos to match.
  • Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower: She covers tasty dessert recipes, travel trips, and blogging tips on writing quality content.

My blog compliments your blog! You’re not obligated to respond, but I just wanted to take time to appreciate the hard work you put into your blogs.

Questions to Nominees:

  1. What kind of music are you listening currently to calm or motivate yourself from the “outside noise & news”?
  2. What has been your greatest achievement this past year?
  3. What kind of skills do you want to develop in the months ahead?
  4. What on-screen villain is most intriguing to you?
  5. Do you have an outfit that makes you feel great about yourself, seems to boost your confidence, or makes you feel invincible? 😉
  6. Was there ever a movie or documentary that inspired you to take action or made you want to learn more about the background story?
  7. What kind of activities do you and your best friend do together? Do you have a favorite funny memory that you share?
Posted in Culture, Events, Food/Recipes, Nature, Photography

CFFC: Things People Grow

Ten years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Vietnam to visit my grandmother and other relatives for the first time. These photos were taken in the Sapa Mountains located in the Lo Cai region. I’m also responding to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Things People Grow

First, let me introduce you to the Dao who are native to the mountains. They were pretty excited to see us. They eagerly showed us their craft collection of handmade goods.

Dao Natives

Many squash are grown on a trellis. I love these squash. I would cook these with spinach and shrimp in a chicken broth to make soup for chilly days.

squash

One of the Dao ladies pointed this building out to me. She said missionaries came out to this region, built a wooden school, and now teach English to the young students.

r2

These are the rice fields in which they call lua.

r5

More beautiful layered rice patties…

rice patties- Sapa Mountains Lo Cai

Close up of the rice growing…

r4

Their methods of irrigation fascinated me!

r6