Literacy and Liberty

Why history still matters today
Posted by: , November 18, 2018, 11:06 pm
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Coming across an article titled: “2018: Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, denies all claims related to the existence of the so-called “Comfort Women””, I was stunned. After the spark of the comfort station established by the Japanese military was brought into public attention in 1997, many evidences and testimonies of the former comfort women were put forth, in an attempt to demand for a proper apology and possible reparation from the Japanese officials for the horrendous past. Nevertheless, justice hasn’t been served. That’s why it still matters today to remind people of the history, in the slight hope for the restoration of the few survivors’ dignity and for shedding the light on the inhumane mistreatments these women had to receive.   

*Guiding Questions: 

  1. What are the testimonies of the former comfort women? Describe the conditions. 
  2. What is the Japanese governmental response to the accusation? The inequivalent reparation from the Japanese government? The total denial in the Prime Minister statement? 
  3. Describe the current attempt to fight for justice of the survivors. 
  4. What impacts does the past have on the present? Two-country relation, the trauma that next generation must deal with, ….?  
  5. Why it matters: the protest, the hostile feelings between two countries, the monuments, the coming-out-of-the-dark story, …? Why worth mentioning it after 86 years? 

Instant noodles
Posted by: , November 14, 2018, 9:53 pm
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Instant noodles


Hurried breakfast

Easy breezy lunch

Late late night snack

You name it

Any way, any time

I can never resist myself

From the temptation of

Vietnamese flavoured instant noodles.


It used to be everywhere

As a rather nationwide, ordinary “bowl”

It used to be everywhere

Since the subsidized era, when people didn’t have anything to eat

It used to be everywhere

With its diverse savory and irresistible fragrance.


Because of its prevalence

I never thought one day I would say

“I miss it”

The hot, flavorful broth

The sipping and slurping

The side dishes: eggs, sausages and veggie

The facets that are closer to my true nature:

Being a Vietnamese and enjoying the national “delicacy”.


Three months since I last had my bowl of boiling noodles

Searching high and low

But America cannot offer me the taste

Of my beloved memories

My familiar ambience

My breakfast, lunch and snack

My Vietnamese flavoured instant noodles.

Investigative Project
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 4:04 pm
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On the spirit of the women’s ongoing fight for their equality, one story must be shed light on. During the World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army spread its terror throughout the world. The soldiers were vicious and unstoppable; they conquered and defeated everything standing their way. Besides their notoriously ferocious attacking method, they were also known for causing other kind of commotions anywhere they set foot on: the rape crime committed by Japanese personnel was extremely high with the instance of the Rape of Nanjing where estimate of 40,000 to 300,000 Chinese civilians were subjected to rape and looting. To prevent the rise of hostility among people in the occupied areas and to prevent the atrocities like the Nanjing event, the military correspondence decided to open comfort stations. Here come the stories of comfort women, who were kidnapped and taken away from their homes, then forced into sexual slavery by Japanese Army in the occupied territories. As I take a closer look, the revelation of the brutal mistreatments, horrendous dehumanization and terrible living conditions that these girls and women had to put up with needs to be brought into the more people’s attention the better. 

The unnamed graves
Posted by: , October 3, 2018, 12:58 pm
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Living a happy, peaceful childhood, death and its power have never occurred to me, not even the slightest. Little do I know about the freedom that I accidentally take for granted, sacrifices and deaths have been a current theme of my country’s history. There are thousands of museums in Vietnam try to recreate the cruelty and brutality of once the darkest moment of the nation but it has never come near the reality. My grandfather’s brother is a soldier during the American War and his death is our biggest loss and the most vocal evidence of the mental and physical hardships people went through post-war. On visiting his tombstone in my hometown, I saw hundreds of other soldiers’ graves with flowers and their family saying loving words, praying for a better afterlife and praising their wonderful sacrifices. However, I also saw some unnamed graves; they are the soldiers whose bodies haven’t been identified, maybe because the remaining flesh is not enough for the DNA to work, or he/she is so far away from home that their family have yet been informed about the location of their tombs. It’s painful to witness that, knowing so well that they deserve to be close to their family and to receive the identity and recognition for what they have been through. With the least that I can do, I went to each unnamed tombstone, left a rose and thanked them for their undying spirits and their forever commemorated sacrifices. As the night fell, I felt laden with grief. 

It’s not just plainly learning to read and write
Posted by: , September 19, 2018, 12:14 am
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Learning to read and write in my home country is a big thing to not only every child but also the family. Parents want their children to take writing courses even before their 1st grade entrance. It has, however, never been my case. While my friends had to exchange their childhood memories for some writing practices and reading lessons, I sure was not in a rush; partly because I took on the lesson pretty well, not a single word was too difficult to spell, not a single grammar rule was too complicated to be memorized.

At school, we also had to learn how to sketch a letter prettily and a whole competition was thrown annually to choose the one with the best handwriting. I have always hated that, although I cannot deny the satisfactory of beholding a beautiful piece of handwriting. There is just something about having to follow a pattern then being graded upon that mould and competing for something that is not necessarily useful in life that upsets me. Fortunately, I was not forced to do something that made me uncomfortable, mainly thanks to my supportive and understanding parents. I think that actually facilitated my learning, both in the past and the present for the luxury of studying with great comfort has allowed me to pursue my favorites and helped define the person I am today.

Story of a foreigner living in America
Posted by: , September 5, 2018, 10:44 am
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Encountering Amy Tan’s experience, I cannot help but relate to the difficulties she faced. Both being a non-native English speaker living in an environment where people speak nothing but English, the switching between different languages is inevitable. The language I used with my parents back home is my mother tongue, Vietnamese, which is the most proficient and pure and consists of no cursing words or abbreviation. The language I talked to my friends is the perfect combination of all the languages I have accumulated for the past 18 years, natural and simple. The third language I have just recently familiarized myself with is daily-life English, which requires certain amount of time to excel. Sometimes I take great pride in being a bilingual person, but some other time, I found myself disconnected with my own language; from time to time, I actually forgot Vietnamese expression and had to substitute it with English words. Back at home, during my preparation for the Common App, I usually went through some of my drafts for the final essay with my parents. I read the passage out loud in my perfect English accent only to be reminded that I eventually had to translate it into Vietnamese for them to follow. The obvious presence of difficulty lingered around my 18 years of language practices and it has yet to disappear.