To me, Vietnam is not just my homeland. It is a part of my youth, my identity and my culture. If I ever leave this place, there will be a lot of things that I miss from it. No matter what I do or where I go, there are moments that make me know that I am Vietnamese at heart and soul.
As long as my heart is moved by Vietnamese people who brings victory to the nation, as long as I cannot resist the excitement of the people when the national football team wins a match, I know I am Vietnamese. Vietnamese people are crazy for football. Even if the team loses, they still celebrate as if it is the winner.
As long as my parents call me and ask: “Have you eaten anything yet?” instead of “How are you?”, and my neighbors ask my mom “Have you bought something for the meals yet?” instead of “Good morning”, I know I am Vietnamese. Because in Vietnamese culture, greetings are not just for communication. It’s the way to express care, sympathy and understanding. These greetings give the listeners a sense of being cared for — a warm, humble gesture that has become a part of Vietnamese culture.
As long as Vietnamese is the only language that I believe can speak with my soul, I know I am Vietnamese. It’s easy to translate the words into another language, but how can someone translate the love behind those words which only exist when a person speaks his or her mother tongue. No matter how fluently I can speak in other languages, I only feel home when I speak Vietnamese, and it is the most expressive language in the world to me.
As long as I hear a customer call the vendor “aunt” or “uncle”, and the sellers call the customers as “dear”, I know I am Vietnamese. To Vietnamese people, it is very common for vendors or sellers to be called in such loving way. Because they value community and bonds, they don’t like courtesy or formality, instead, they see everyone as their acquaintances and treat each other in a respectful manner.
As long as I still feel proud when saying: “I am from Vietnam” to foreigners, I know I am Vietnamese.
As long as I believe no luxurious, expensive meals on earth can compare with my mom’s humble meals, I know I am Vietnamese. The flavor of the dishes and the warmth of family dinners is what most Vietnamese people miss when they live away from home. Vietnamese food is super simple but amazingly diverse and healthy as well. The balance of Vietnamese food makes it one of the most admired cuisine in the world.
And whenever I see the streets are named after famous figures in Vietnamese history instead of just dull numbers, I know I am Vietnamese.
And just like the way people feel connected to their homeland, although Vietnam is not the richest, most modern country in the world, it is the only place that I call home. Either as humble as the daily loving words or as significant as the beauty of the land, those Vietnamese things have the power to connect. They remind every person about his or her deepest part, which is reserved for a place called homeland.
If you ever have the chance to visit Vietnam, I hope you experience such warmth, diversity and serenity. I hope you meet as many local people as you can and listen to their stories.They will surprise you with their kindness, as if you are their acquaintances. I hope you will come and bring home the love of Vietnamese people, who never show any lack of smiles and optimism.