Three Aspects of Vietnamese Culture

by Nhan Nguyen

As newcomers, my family and I are living though a transition in the U.S. Although there are many things that we need to adjust to in the new environment, there are three aspects of Vietnamese culture that my parents always encourage us to keep, and I myself would like to pass them on to my children. They are filial piety, close relationships among siblings, and the Vietnamese language.

The Vietnamese cultural aspect that we must keep in all Vietnamese families is filial piety. All Vietnamese children, no matter how old they are, have to listen to and obey their parents, and they have to respect and take good care of their parents when they are getting old. By practicing filial piety, children who do not have enough experience in life can receive good advice from their parents to do things in the right way. When parents and grandparents grow old, they can be looked after by the younger generation instead of going to a nursing home as we often see in this country. Everything can change, but whoever you are, the relationship between you and the people who gave birth to you will always be primary in your life. Watching my grandmother telling bedtime stories to my daughter, deep in my heart, I hope filial piety will be kept in our family forever.
     Another important aspect of Vietnamese culture that needs to be maintained is close relationships among siblings. A Vietnamese family usually has many children, so good relationships among them are very important and  contribute to a happy family. With the power and the support of the whole family, each sibling will have more opportunities to be successful. I have seven brothers and sisters. We used to all live together with our parents. We took turns working and going to school, so that we could help each other out financially. Now we are all married, but we still live close to each other and to our parents in the same building so that we can help to baby-sit the children. I know my children will not have as many siblings as I do, but I know the close relationship between them is the significant thing that I will teach them to value.

The third aspect that is very important for us to keep is the Vietnamese language. Our language is very beautiful. It is the language that my mother sang me to sleep with when I was a child, and now I sing to my daughter every night as she falls asleep. It is the language that we speak at home, the language that helps us understand and feel close to each other. It is the connection between members in our family. By keeping the Vietnamese language, we can teach our children to be proud of who they are.

Our life is changing in the United States, but no matter where we are, we are still Vietnamese people. The respect for older members in the family, which our parents taught us, we will teach our children. Keeping close relationships in the family and maintaining our native language are some of the most important aspects of Vietnamese culture that our children will learn.