In an earlier post, I told you all that I am taking a Conversational Vietnamese course at Cal. I was initially very nervous about it because I don’t know Vietnamese well, and I didn’t take the first part of the series. However, I quickly came to realize that I was (kinda) overreacting. I am terrible at Vietnamese. I find it hard to speak and my vocabulary is very limited. And my spelling is very poor. Yet, there are quite a few students in the class that are learning just as me, and that’s comforting. I am not so sure how my professor grades (as he could grade me on how much each individual as improved versus comparing to everyone else like Econ classes do).
But I am just enjoying the class as of now. It’s definitely a class that I definitely don’t mind going to class every day. People in the class are also really awesome. First, Thầy Bắc is awesome. And second, all my classmates are pretty cool too. We come from many different disciplines, and we’re all struggling through Vietnamese together. Two people from my class are from Project SMILE, and I’ve slowly starting to get to know all the other characters in the class. Together, professor and students, it’s a pretty good time. Thầy Bắc just seems to laugh at all the jokes that we make and he’s pretty funny too, just being himself.
Throughout the semester, he allows people to make up their participation points by giving presentations, so we get exposed to whatever people present about. There was a presentation on Tết and one about Vietnamese dancing. Right now for our midterms, we are presenting (with a PowerPoint) or giving speeches (without a PowerPoint) on the chapters we have covered, which includes traveling, our families, school life, etc. Basically, our lives (beauty of a conversational Vietnamese class). Yesterday, I gave a presentation on some of the places that I traveled to in Vietnam: Hà Nội, Sa Pa, Mê Linh, Quan Lạn, and Bát Tràng. No destinations in the South though because my presentation was based off my midterm essay. Here’s a slide from the PowerPoint:
I think you have seen most of these pictures before.
Even though it may seem like this is a really laid-back class, I am learning. Adding to the fact that I try really hard now to talk to my parents only in Vietnamese, I have picked up some words that I wouldn’t have known if I was not in the class. I learned the word for stress, and now I can say it all the time. It’s căng thẩng. I also think that my parents like it that I’m taking more initiative to learn Vietnamese. My mom doesn’t mind helping me with it. Both my mom and my dad helped me with my presentation on Tết Mậu Thân. I haven’t given that presentation yet, but I will soon.
I really hope that one day, I will be fluent in Vietnamese, and I will be able to teach my kids (if I ever have any) Vietnamese too. I think that I would really like to grab hold of my heritage and not be so Americanized, so I am trying really hard to learn more about Vietnam and such. I want to know that country and the people that is part of my identity. So, I will.
Thầy Bắc introduced us to an author Nhã Ca, who was present in Huế during the Tết Offensive. There was a book event here in Berkeley, that I unfortunately couldn’t attend, but I want to read her book: Mourning Headband for Hue. As well as other books. I gave my mom a book that I read in my History of Vietnam class last semester: Truyện Kiều (The Tale of Kieu). And I think she really appreciated that I read it and she could read it again.
Over and out.