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Humans of Harker: Haley Tran values her cultural identity

%E2%80%9CA+lot+of+the+time%2C+when+I%E2%80%99m+out+at+nail+salons%2C+nailers+ask+me+if+I%E2%80%98m+Vietnamese.+I+say+yes%2C+but+they+say+that+I+don%E2%80%99t+speak+the+language+and+have+never+been+back+to+Vietnamese%2C+so+am+I+really%3F+I+always+felt+disconnected%2C+like+I+would+be+Vietnamese-American+but+never+Vietnamese.+When+I+went+to+Vietnam+for+the+first+time%2C+it+brought+me+closer+to+my+culture.+I+realized+I+shouldn%E2%80%99t+view+myself+as+a+different.+I+have+to+see+Vietnamese-American+and+Vietnamese+as+one+and+the+same%2C%22+Haley+Tran+%2812%29+said.
“A lot of the time, when I’m out at nail salons, nailers ask me if I‘m Vietnamese. I say yes, but they say that I don’t speak the language and have never been back to Vietnamese, so am I really? I always felt disconnected, like I would be Vietnamese-American but never Vietnamese. When I went to Vietnam for the first time, it brought me closer to my culture. I realized I shouldn’t view myself as a different. I have to see Vietnamese-American and Vietnamese as one and the same,

“A lot of the time, when I’m out at nail salons, nailers ask me if I‘m Vietnamese. I say yes, but they say that I don’t speak the language and have never been back to Vietnamese, so am I really? I always felt disconnected, like I would be Vietnamese-American but never Vietnamese. When I went to Vietnam for the first time, it brought me closer to my culture. I realized I shouldn’t view myself as a different. I have to see Vietnamese-American and Vietnamese as one and the same," Haley Tran (12) said.

Heidi Zhang

Heidi Zhang

“A lot of the time, when I’m out at nail salons, nailers ask me if I‘m Vietnamese. I say yes, but they say that I don’t speak the language and have never been back to Vietnamese, so am I really? I always felt disconnected, like I would be Vietnamese-American but never Vietnamese. When I went to Vietnam for the first time, it brought me closer to my culture. I realized I shouldn’t view myself as a different. I have to see Vietnamese-American and Vietnamese as one and the same," Haley Tran (12) said.

by Vijay Bharadwaj, Opinion Editor

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Haley Tran (12) loves making study guides. She often shares these detailed notes with her peers to help them to prepare for tests. But her motivations in creating and sharing these go deeper and beyond that level.

To be honest, I did it for myself, but at one point I decided that I wasn’t doing it just for myself,” she said. “There are people in this world who are lazy, but there are also people who genuinely don’t have the time to study. If you have the opportunity to help people, you should take it. Don’t be selfish, because who you are today is a result of the people that you met. If someone does not have the same opportunities for you, then you should not look down on them. You should try to help them to get there.”

Haley’s motivation to help people with fewer opportunities extends to her trip to Vietnam. It was an eye-opening experience for her, as she had never visited before her senior year.

“Every year I would ask my mom, but my mom would say no,” Haley said. “Then, my brother went to Vietnam the year before, and I really really wanted to go, but my mom said, ‘No you’re not ready for it yet.’ It has to be before senior year. I guess my entire life my mom has not wanted me to experience Vietnamese culture, because she’s saying stuff like, ‘We came all the way from Vietnam, so why would you like to bring back the culture that we escaped?’ Both my parents escaped on boats, and they would always tell me about their month long journeys from Vietnam, but at the same time they’re never trying to go back.”

In the end, she decided to go to Vietnam as she met a professor who managed a business mentorship program in Vietnam. The professor told her about the camp where she could help advise individuals interested in pursuing business.

After meeting with the members of the program, Haley learned the circumstances of their upbringings and considered it with those in the Vietnam camp.

“They had really interesting startup ideas,” she said. “Not all of them had a college education, and even if they did, they entered school late. All these people here were looking for opportunities as they lived their lives as farmers. They lived really hard lives, like convincing their parents to send them to school, and it was interesting that they wanted to do the same things that I wanted to do. Their paths of doing so were very different from mine, and it’s interesting to see that although you may have so many cultural differences and opportunities, your drive and ambition is something that does not change across cultures.”

Haley reflected on her life in Silicon Valley and compared it to those who lived in Vietnam, leading to a greater understanding of herself.

“I think especially living in Silicon Valley, we are so privileged to live here, and we go to school with kids whose parents are executives and run startups,” she said. “The idea of technology is really saturated. It’s hard to imagine otherwise, but at the same time you get used to it. First of all, it was a big cultural shock for me. I think I take it for granted. These people’s lives are setup to take the family business and continue agriculture. But at the same time we’re not so different in terms of ambition and goals.”

Through her experience in high school, Haley discovered more about herself and her preference for social interactions. She believes that no matter what your circumstances are, you can still have high ambitions.

“One thing I really like doing is talking to people and socializing,” she said. “I wanted to solve problems, and international relations was something that I was interested in. There are always ways that you can get involved. You don’t let lack of experience hinder your ambitions to do what you want, like entering business.”

Haley particularly values her cultural identity and hopes to better understand herself and her culture as she grows older.
“A lot of the time, when I’m out at nail salons, nailers ask me if I‘m Vietnamese,” she said. “I say yes, but they say that I don’t speak the language and have never been back to Vietnamese, so am I really? I always felt disconnected, like I would be Vietnamese-American but never Vietnamese. When I went to Vietnam for the first time, it brought me closer to my culture. I realized I shouldn’t view myself as a different. I have to see Vietnamese-American and Vietnamese as one and the same.”

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Humans of Harker: Haley Tran values her cultural identity