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Dear Dad.

You were my favourite person in the world. People say we look alike. When mum looks at me, she sees you. I would sit in the backseat and watch you teach people to drive. I am the man on the road now. When I dance it is because of you, dancing with me in the living room carefree. You were everything to me. I was thinking about the time I was a young little girl looking out the big window in the living room, and I would see you standing beside your driving school car. I remember watching and waiting for you to come home. waiting. There was one time I desperately needed you to come home. I had called triple 0 and mum wasn’t feeling well. I waited at the window for you to come home. I remember waiting at the police station in my birthday party dress. Mum was to hand us over to you so you could celebrate my birthday. But you never turned up. When mum looks at me, she sees you, and then she hates me. I remember looking out at the window and no longer seeing you. You left us. Abandoned us. Your family. The 4 most important women of your life. Not only did you leave us, but you left us hurt, distressed and sad. I watched my mother over the years, how she tried to raise the three of us, with a broken heart. A single mother with no family to help her. It was just her, no money, a run down car and us. You were meant to protect us....

MAV Station Pier “Migration Stories”

Recently I facilitated a Migration Stories Forum @ Station Pier’s Festival for Multicultural Arts Victoria. Those that arrived in the 50’s and 60’s, Station Pier was their first step onto Australian soil. It was wonderful to hear different stories dating back from the GoldFields, WWII and many more. One hour each with 3-4 guests but it wasn’t enough to discuss and listen to all their stories in detail, however I was honoured to be there and hear them. I wish there was a representative from the Vietnamese community to talk about their arrival, because the Q&A’s at each session debated the migration stories of today, the boat people. I raised the question, “I work with young people from refugee background at English Language schools, who have come here by boat, with families or minors. How do we preserve these stories and share these with the community so they can understand the sacrifices made by them?” Then words came out from some of the audience members. Stealing. Shouldn’t be allowed. What parent would allow their children to get on a boat. Illegal. I had to defend my mother, a Vietnamese refugee who escaped by a fishing boat to Malaysia. I told the audience my mother had to pay her way to get on the boat. So then she must be “Illegal” too. And look at me now. Her sacrifices of her safety and family in Vietnam, she came here so that my sisters and I could have an education, travel and roam the world, and not have the life my cousins have in Vietnam. She wanted freedom and choices. John...

Tuition….and boys

I recently went to bentovate c to buy Suzanne’s Book Launch “Memory Maps” @ FedSquare. The concept was “What is your memory map of living in Melbourne? and draw it.” I wrote this below. That’s right, I went to State Library so I could have freedom. I used ‘study ‘so I can catch public transport from Springvale and feel smart underneath the dome at State Library, but not smart enough. So I thought of my memory map in Springvale, and I always have the memory map for every Tuesday afternoon in Yr 12. 1. Fi (Phi)and I would leave our high school, and walk north up Springvale Road. 2. We’d cross the road @ the Post Office, and walk through the dodgy arcade. 3. Walking East toward the “Yum Cha” Plaza. 4. Buy Rice paper rolls from the shops on the right. Either the second or third. Fi and I still argue which one has the best Rice paper Rolls. 5. Head to the middle kiosk and buy our 7 Colour Drink, which is now 5 Colour Drink. 6. Head to JACK tuition for Maths Methods with students from all over the Springvale, and “learn.” That’s one memory map. Another memory about tuition, I lied to my mum and said I had “School of Excellence” on the Saturday, but instead had a pork roll, went to Chaddy, watched a movie and shopped. That night, I had food poisoing from the pork roll. I believe it was KARMA. But to challenge this Karma, I lost 6kgs in 1 week, and went to my formal looking trim and fab. The moral...

The Aftermath of Q&A – That word starting with R

RACISM. I don’t know why on live tv I was hesitated to say that word. I am probably tired of that word. I am tired of how it defines me, and how it must define people. It shouldn’t be like that. Before the Q&A show, I had spent the day at Deer Park Secondary performing and talking to yr 9 and 10 students about Racism. ” “Define Racism, and with Comedy can we take racism to the line.” The project conducted by Centre of Multicultural Youth (CMY) wanted to find out what students knew. So we used Stand Up Comedy to talk about Race and it was received differently from each yr level. So when it came to Q&A – I couldn’t handle the word anymore. I don’t know what is more offensive? Not saying it, or the word was there. I work with refugee and migrant young people in the South Eastern Suburbs. I am proud to be working for these organisations as we promote performing arts and innovative programs, discussion about welfare, engagement and participation in community life. What I wanted to say tonight but didn’t get the opportunity is that one of the reasons why I work in community development or theatre is the importance of sharing stories. Currently I am working at a transtional school running an 8 week Mental Health drama program about “What is your story? Where do you come from? Why are you here? and What are you experiences living in Australia? If you got to hear the stories these young people have come from, we wouldn’t be assuming why boats come to Australia. If these stories could be heard,...

How to travel to Vietnam? Mot 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 11:02pm I can finally tell you about my 2 month Epic Vietnam trip. The last time I went to Vietnam was in 1996. And I hated it. But I had promised my grandmother that I would return once I finished my VCE, but I didnt keep that promise because she passed away 2 years before. I felt I had no connection to Vietnam anymore. But I always knew I had to travel home…it’s funny how i call Vietnam home… Why I had to go home? Because I’ve always been interested in my mother’s story. Where she was from? Why did she come here? Who is she?And who was I? Growing up Australian-Vietnamese or Vietnamese-Australian, I was born and bred as an Australian, but genetically my skin, my hair and second generation conflicit with the culture I couldn’t avoid that I am Vietnamese. So after many stints travelling to other locations in the world. My Her Production GirlsHerProductions– Layla, Helen plus Hany (almighty protector). So for 26 days, we travelled from Saigon, down the Mekong Delta to the Cambodian border, flew to the DaLat mountains, sleeping bus to the Hoi An, flying out to Hanoi, paddling around HaLong Bay and express train to Sapa. and THEN travelling home to MyTho.At every stop we made, we found ourselves in a different town with its own personality. Each town had a different experience, feeling and a unique story.The Highlights of these Towns. Meeting place – Ho Chi Minh Post Office – 16th of Jan 2010 – 11am. I was early and waiting for the girls. the journey begins…and...

A new home, away from home

A new home by Diana Nguyen on Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 1:04am Finishing our trip in Hanoi and returning to Saigon, Helen asked me where I was going, and I replied “Home.” That Home was My Tho, where my mother was born, raised and escaped. Today I attended a launch by the City of Greater Dandenong called “Face to Face – Springvale Stories”. The exhibition is about the faces of Springvale, the celebration of multiculturalism and stories that live in this city I was raised in. Get caught picking my nose, in my calendar photo…1989 – the way it was For most buy doxine of my 25 years of my life, I have lived, studied, fell in love, ate at Hoa Tran, attempted to park my car in the shopping centre, enjoyed a bubble up, neo prints and food poisoning by a $2 pork roll. Currently, I work in this suburb supporting young migrant and refugee background young people with their homework SEAAC, and drama classes to bring confidence to their little souls and be happy in this new world they live in TheSongRoom. I smile to think that I am helping my community that has helped me over the years. MP Hong Lim and Cr Youhorn Chea spoke about the richness of Springvale, how even though we’ve grown up in Springvale, and we move to surrounding suburbs, we still come back to Springvale to shop. I was quite emotional regarding this, as I went to St Joseph’s Primary school, Killester College, studied at Springvale Library…to check out guys , fought at centrelink for my Youth Allowance, and...