How I Got Here

I have been struggling to write a first blog. Not only because I criticize my writing and feel pressured to create this “ideal blog” but mostly because I am having a hard time being vulnerable to this strange internet space. I don’t want my bridge year to be glorified and covered in roses and daisies (heh). I just want to be real with myself and allow people to see many sides of this journey, which can only start off right if I begin my first blog with the people that got me here.

Three days ago, I called my mom through FaceTime for the second time since I’ve been here for two weeks. The first thing she said was that my face looked like it was inflamed. This was somewhat true because it was the night after I hiked Pichincha and got a slight sunburn. She demanded that I put on vaseline all over my face and was convinced that I was ruining my skin forever. I laughed at how concerned she was because I knew it was all out of love (hey Thoa and Anh, I think I’m starting to understand your relationship with mom). The ten minute conversation with my mom was 90% about my “inflamed” face and the other 10% was her reminding me to be safe and to not go out alone.  Nothing surprising or new but at the same time it’s never been like this before. I’m used to a phone call reminding me to come home early, but this time I’m not coming home until 7 more months.

I’ve been constantly reminded that it’s okay to be selfish going into to this bridge year but that doesn’t stop the feeling of guilt once in awhile which come in waves. My parents are two people I don’t purposely try to think about being here which can easily be done with all the distractions but when the noise boils down, it’s nearly impossible. A part of me knows that this is not what they wanted from me and that they question why I didn’t just attend UCSB. A part of me knows that my parents hustle and struggle because I’ve seen it through my own eyes and felt helpless about it. A part of me will always carry my parents and their stories which I will never have to face in my lifetime.

A part of me are the bạns that show up to my house even when I’m not home to hang out with my little brother (LOL weird), swoop me when I don’t have a ride (trust me this was almost everyday), and even treat me out to eat chicken when I’m in need of a celebration or simp session. My bạns  are the people who helped me get through high school and together created the craziest memories (very questionable now that I look back). A part of me are the all-nighters spent painting homecoming walls, planning FANTASTICS, or just bonding with my VSA officers and spreading kindness with the kawaii members/officers in ARK. A part of me are the teachers who actually believed in me and gave me the reality checks I needed. A part of me is my community in San Jose and the opportunities that came from being in this city (thank you Betty, YAC, YC’s).  A part of me are all the mentees and mentors that I’ve met, learned and connected with through their stories that are truly gems (SASC SI, SEAYC, VISION, APALI, BG).

A part of me is my identity as a Vietnamese American that comes with Tet, or going out to eat pho with friend’s and then coming home to find out your mom made pho (yes, true story) and I’ll stop because I’d like to talk about this in a different post (just had to mention this because I almost feel like I’m reducing being Vietnamese American to simply Tet and pho).  A part of me is my crazy huge family and my crew that I’ve been close with since day 1 (SLODS *cough cough*). A part of me are my siblings who’ve acted as mentors, punching bags, roommates, and second parents. A part of me is my religion and TNTT.

A part of me is anyone that has connected with me some way or form. Who I am is partially because of these people that I hold so close to me. I don’t have to let anyone go just because I want to continue to grow. I don’t have to feel guilt, but recognize how I was built through all these people. Although I am typing these words, this is something I am still trying to teach myself.

To the one’s who I directed in this blog, thank you for lifting me, guiding me, loving me and giving me a piece of you. I will not forget the people who have allowed me be right here in Quito with this host family and meet fellows I absolutely adore and admire through Global Citizen Year. I don’t know how it happened, but I know I am very privileged.