Where I Come From

Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

It was a humid and tense night. My dad flipped a table full of china plates and beer cans, because my mom refused to make a dish for his guests. She said she was tired from a full shift that day at her job. When I came downstairs, he was already gone; the only thing he left was broken glass and ceramics for me to clean. My mom never spoke out about the incidentagain. As I swept, I remember feeling so angry because of their idea of family hierarchy. In Vietnamese culture, the father has the last say on everything, because he is the only one who earns money for the family. Apparently, by refusing to make him a dish, my mom had shamed our family.

This ancient belief about male supremacy and female submission aggravated me, so I swore to achieve more than my ancestors ever believed possible. I want to prove them wrong by accomplishing more than what they think I amcapable of. To the Vietnamese, a perfect girl would be pale, reserved, and dainty. To achieve this, I would have to stay indoors to keep my skin light, remain quiet to avoid being outspoken, and avoid heavy chores to remain slender. A “perfect Vietnamese girl” to me is weak. Instead of becoming subversive, my personal background has inspired me to beocmean independent,...

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