Don’t Forget that Our Stories Count - Sign AB1726
Written By: Jonathan Tran, HIP Member. Content reflects Mr. Tran's personal opinions and do not reflect the position of any other organization
Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. Like so many other Southeast Asian families, my parents worked A LOT. They took multiple shifts and worked overtime whenever they could. That left the child rearing during those long hours to my “ah kong” (grandpa) and “ah ma” (grandma). One of my earliest memories was a casual day with ah kong in the garden we had in the backyard. He paused from his yard work when I came up behind him. I distinctly remember him reaching into a massive bucket, his face beaming with excitement and pulling out a giant guava the size of my head. I didn’t appreciate this until I was older, but growing a mutant-sized guava in the desert of Los Angeles is no easy task. I could feel the pride he had in this monstrosity of a fruit because of all the labor and time he had put into growing and cultivating it.
I was too young to remember most of the stories ah kong would tell me about coming to the United States as refugees from Vietnam--so most of what I know comes from stories I heard from my dad. There was nothing in those stories that made ah kong sound extraordinary. His family grew up painfully poor in Southern China and the economic conditions were so awful that his family uprooted and moved to Vietnam. His story in Vietnam was not particularly spectacular either as he worked as a garment merchant selling children’s clothing sewn by my grandma in local markets in Vietnam. His harrowing journey to America--surviving war, escaping Vietnam as a boat person, living over a year in a refugee camp in Indonesia; is heartbreaking but also shared by many others who had to endure similar or worse tragedies. There’s no one single story about my grandpa that stands out for me. Instead, I remember my grandpa’s collective narrative--the persistent grit and grind and sacrifice at every stage of his life. In many ways, the pride that ah kongexpressed with the giant guava fruit was a microcosm of the same type of grit and grind that he had known all of Don’t Forget that Our Stories Count - Sign AB1726 — Hmong Innovating Politics: