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Embracing Vietnam: A Journey of Heart and Heritage (148)

For decades after returning from my visits to Vietnam, my heart always lingered in the land I loved. Overcoming nostalgia took me months until I began bringing Vietnamese souvenirs home. While some were given to friends, I kept others for myself, displaying them in cabinets, on walls, desks, and at work. They kept my heart warm, a reminder of Vietnam wherever I went.

Several years ago, I brought a conical hat adorned with artwork depicting a Vietnamese lady in traditional attire back to the US. Safely transporting it amidst crowded carry-ons was challenging, but it made it home with me. I cherished it and proudly wore it to work, standing out among several hundreds employees during break times.

Once, a Vietnamese director looked surprised seeing me wearing it, while another time, an information desk clerk stopped me, searching for a similar hat for her mom. I offered to purchase one for her.

The conical hat holds a strong significance for me; it recalls my countryside roots in Vietnam, my mom returning home from work wearing it, and my sisters and cousins toiling in the rice fields. It embodies the hardworking Vietnamese people shielding themselves from the sun's rays.

This hat symbolizes the traditional culture and homeland, an object common to the country.

Despite living in Vietnam for less than one third of my life compared to America, Vietnam always occupies a special place in my heart. I adore the traditional attire, the music, language, and Vietnamese cuisine—everything about Vietnam!

I'm grateful that despite changes around me, I haven't become too Americanized. I look forward to resettling in Vietnam soon, feeling at home there. I belong in Vietnam, surrounded by love and happiness among my countrymen. I aspire to bring my knowledge and compassion back home to aid those in need and share the beauty of my country with the world. ♥️

Crystal H. Vo

December 18, 2023

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