One road: 5: Fight the cultural war.

Fighting China Inside and Out

Cảnh thăng hoa - The finale scene. Photo: Anvi Hoàng.

The finale scene in the opera The Tale of Lady Thị Kính. Photo: Anvi Hoàng.

—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

Vietnam is a small country next to China. That is one reason it is still bullied by China in the games that it plays with its two other counterparts, America and Russia. Frustrating. Mad. Raged. I would not indulge in these emotions. Whether the war between China and Vietnam escalates or not, whether world war III would be in sight or not, and no matter who loses and wins, my commitment is to a stronger and more prosperous Vietnam, a situation that is made possible by Vietnamese in the homeland essentially, unfortunately for me. As someone who already left the country, I am limited to not endorsing nonconstructive criticism of Vietnam, at the same time consciously serve as a Vietnam advocate who provides factual information about Vietnam and its culture for non-Vietnamese. This way, I have chosen one road to walk on. For myself and for the vindication of my soul: I chose the cultural battle. Continue reading


My V = Vietnam Days


Photo: Anvi Hoàng

 —– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

Once upon a time, an American friend asked me: “I have been to China and Korea and I can see special things about those cultures that set them apart. Yet, I cannot say the same about Vietnamese culture. What is characteristic of Vietnamese culture?” I was dumbfounded. I am a Vietnamese and have never thought about that all my life. I am sure there are special things in Vietnamese culture that make it what it is, but at that moment I only remembered mumbling something insignificant. For a while, I blamed myself for not appreciating Vietnamese culture enough to brag about it on the spot. Yet, in earnest, people see what they want to see. If my friend could not see beautiful things in Vietnamese culture when they visited the country just because they let their prejudice or biases blind them, there is not much I could do. Continue reading

Sài Gòn-Việt Nam: Feel free to hug!


 —– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

Human beings act on habits. Things one does everyday are all habitual. That means one can initiate a change in their behavior by initiating a change in their habits. Easier said than done. But, by all means, very feasible. With this in mind, I am dreaming that many Vietnamese are soon to pick up a new habit. Here is the reason. Continue reading

The fall and force of people from the North

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At One-pillar pagoda, Hà Nội, Việt Nam.

—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

Travelling in Việt Nam these days, one could not help but noticing that most local tourists they encounter are from the North. Ninety-five percent of tourists that I met during my two months of travel from Sài Gòn to Sapa are from the northern regions of Việt Nam. Are they “cute Northern girls” who can steal your heart in a flash as a line from Phạm Duy’s song goes? Are they elegant as imperial citizens of the old days? Without trying to be poetic, I only have some observations. Continue reading

8 Things I Love About Instant Noodle

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A scene from the film Instant Noodle by Khoa Trọng Nguyễn – Photo from ViFF website.

—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —–

Don’t get me wrong. It is not instant noodle I am talking about. It is Instant Noodle the film, directed by Khoa Trọng Nguyễn, that I want to talk about. It is one of the many feature films screened at the 6th Vietnamese International Film Festival in April 2013. Continue reading

Nhi T. Lieu: Authenticity is not ever reachable

Nhi Lieu is such a happy and cheerful academic professor. She laughed more than any professors I’ve met before – great energy to be around. Her research is an important contribution to the understanding of the Vietnamese diasporic community in the U.S., for both scholars in the field and the community itself.

Anvi Hoang: There are a lot of interesting stories in your book. In a nutshell, what is American Dream in Vietnamese about?

Nhi T. Lieu: [Laughed]. It is about a lot of things. It is about the formation of identity of an immigrant/diasporic group. It looks at popular culture and other forms of cultural productions as sites of study. What’s new and interesting about this project is that it looks at this refugee/minority population through a different lens – it looks at everyday life and the ways in which popular culture and things in the everyday affect the social, cultural, political aspects of a community. Continue reading

Andrew Lam: Language has an immediate and visceral effect

Curious, I set out to interview Andrew Lam about his book East Eats West and his thoughts on American society and Vietnamese community.

Hoàng: What is the intended audience for East Eats West?

Lam: I would think that it’s just for all kinds of readers but mostly I would love to have people who are too aware of cultural differences to learn a little bit more about how their lives have been changed because of immigration, especially immigration from East Asia. Continue reading

Vietnamese opera in the United States: Nam Mô A Di Đà Phật Celebrated on American Stage

A version of this article has been published in The Vien Dong Daily News 2012 Lunar New Year Edition. Online Vietnamese version here.