By now, I have come to the stunned realization, that I continue to evolve into a different and better person as I journey around the world on the Spring 2015 voyage with Semester at Sea. While visiting Japan, I witnessed a friendly and hospitable culture,¬† and thus was inspired to be more patient and to act with utter kindness. So, while in Beijing, when I accidentally hopped off the train at the wrong station and was lost for an entire day, I remembered the lesson from the Japanese, and chose to remain calm and optimistic, and decided to seek helpful guidance from the locals.
While Visiting Vietnam I continued to change and grow. Here, I had a special reunion with my extended family and was able to differentiate myself from the people of Japan and China. Visiting my family in Vietnam allowed my identity to resurface, as a niece of eight grand aunts and uncles, as an older cousin, and as a Vietnamese woman who saw her own “Wonder of the World”.
Although born in America, I visited Vietnam when I was two years old to attend my grandmother‚Äôs funeral. Since then, I‚Äôve spent 18 years growing up in the United States, and was delighted at the chance to be reunited with my long line of grand aunts and uncles and newly born cousins on February 11, 2015. I am Christine Vo, and my family in Vietnam is My¬†”Wonder of the World.”
My fondest memories from my special reunion are hugging and receiving smiles from my grandaunts for the first time, playing and singing karaoke with my little cousins, sitting on the back of my uncle‚Äôs motorbike, and strolling through the local villages with my grandaunt as she held onto my arm and led me across the chaotic streets.
When my uncle, Cau Hai, drove me back to the ship, it was such an emotional challenge, as I tried to process every first sight, first hug, and first conversation with my family. So many blessings stand out to me, as I reminisce about my first three days in Vietnam and no experience further can ever compare to such a special reunion. While I said ‚Äúgoodbye‚Äù, all I felt was incredibly thankful and numb to the question of ‚ÄúWhen am I going to see my family again?‚Äù Surprisingly, I did not feel sad about departing, because I believe that I will visit them again very soon. I am forever thankful for their unconditional love, protection, and smiles.
I believe, the identity transformation I experienced while in Vietnam is something that I will continue to ponder about and cherish in my heart forever. After the short three-day reunion with my family, I am now able to identify myself as a niece who is loved by many grandaunts and granduncles. Moreover, I am now able to identify myself as a Vietnamese woman who saw her personal favorite “Wonder of the World.” Words can never express how big my heart has grown, to fit in all of the love for each of my grandaunts, granduncles, cousins, and everyone in between. My heart bursts with happiness at just the thought of them, which has taught me that family is universal.
The great opportunities during this voyage include witnessing some major wonders of the world, but the Great Wall and the Taj Mahal are only added bonuses now, because I saw MY “Wonder of the World” by returning to Vietnam.