What do I mean by decline of Vietnamese roots within Vietnamese-Americans? Well, what I mean is how quickly so many Vietnamese-Americans are losing their ways, which means that it is no longer proper to call them Vietnamese people anymore, just Americans. Now I’ve been thinking about writing a post like this for a while, because I’m noticing it happen way too much, like every time I go into a Vietnamese restaurant, I get annoyed by the parents who keep talking English to their child. A recent discussion with my friend about Greek mythology and classicism led to me thinking about how it was revived during the periods of the Renaissance and Neoclassicism. Those cultures fell apart, but was eventually brought back. We are closing in towards abandonment of Vietnamese culture in the Americas, and I can tell you why with two reasons.
Seriously, there is nothing that ticks me off the more than this. I mean, the blame of our generation of Vietnamese-Americans not understanding Vietnamese should be put on the parents. I hear the parents of those children blurt out pitiful excuses such as saying that they are afraid the child will have a hard time comprehending the English language. Geez, my first language was Vietnamese. Then, I have parents saying that they don’t have the time or expenses to be enrolling their child in Vietnamese classes. At Vietnamese classes, you learn how to write and read, history, geography, etc. So even if the child is unable to read or write in Vietnamese, they should at least be able to talk because the parents are Vietnamese, which means that should be the language that the parents are talking to them with supposedly, right? But no. Parents would rather talk to the child with an English language that is so hard to hear, some would rather not hear at all. And please, don’t tell me that since one of the spouses is of a different race means that the child doesn’t have to learn Vietnamese. I have a friend that is even more fluent than I am, and he’s only half-Vietnamese.
Adding on, Vietnamese people seem to be slowly drifting away from our own cultural and delicious dishes and replacing it with fatty to-go burgers and pizza. Other than Pho, Vietnamese-Americans nowadays don’t even know about the real authentic dishes, and eating foods of the norm here in America is all they know. I mean, eating American food or other types of food is perfectly fine, but the main problem here is a child unable to eat or even know of these amazing dishes tied to their own roots.
Vietnamese people overall seem to be achieving a lot more here in America, rising in education everywhere, because as the world gets more competitive, we have to keep up. That’s excellent, but that doesn’t give us an excuse not to teach our child their roots, because that’s who they really are. Parents shouldn’t think that the child will be struggling in the American schools, because the more languages a child knows, the more open his or her mind will be. Just like if they know how to draw, or read music. It’s just like a language. And think about it. Your child will have a much bigger advantage out there as compared to others in the future because if they know Vietnamese when younger, then English at school, then another language in high school such as Spanish, your child will be considered trilingual, as opposed to most American students who are only bilingual or just know the English language. I’d like to dream that our Vietnamese culture will be standing strong, but with the way things are going, by 2050 our culture in the Americas will be left in the dust.
“Người ta có tổ có tông,
như cây có gốc, như sông có nguồn.”
This translates as “people have their origins and ancestors, just like the plants have their roots, and the rivers have their source.” This is telling us to not abandon our culture and make sure to always remember that we are Vietnamese people.