Story by Gina Pham, MPA, ’19
After 27 years, I’m finally grasping my own identity. Language has both confused and formed my identity over the years.
Born in the US to Vietnamese refugees, I didn’t know English until I started pre-k. As a moldable kid, I simply assumed whatever identity was imposed on me. In school I was American; at home I was Vietnamese; in between school and home I was whatever strangers treated me as, which varied depending on the situation. I was a hyphenated (Vietnamese-American) kid so my life straddled two very different identities that often conflicted with one another.
Eiad talks about learning English almost by accident. While his father was teaching his sisters with textbooks and CD programs, Eiad listened to English music, and played video games. Soon, the language came easily and he was pursuing his education in places like Cyprus and Montana, USA.
Patricia has always been a traveller. She is someone who loves arriving in a new place and rises to the challenges of being in a new place, surrounded by a different culture, and an unfamiliar language. Airplanes provide the mechanism to easily move across the globe and languages provide a new window to understanding each new place, its people, and its culture.