Wednesday, January 27, 2021

How the Arts (& #artseducation) Can Save the World – Sam Chaltain

How the Arts (& #artseducation) Can Save the World – Sam Chaltain

In Australia, the country of his birth, Thanh Bui learned early on that kids who looked like him faced two possible paths.

On one, traversed by the only other Asian student in his school, the cold sting of isolation and ridicule awaited. On the other, however, came the assimilatory embrace of knowing you were “one of the lads.”

For Bui, youthful, outgoing, and kinetic, it was an easy choice — one that would take him to heights his immigrant parents could never have imagined: first, playground popularity and acceptance, and then, eventually, global celebrity and superstardom.

The only requirement was that he suppress his Vietnamese identity.

It would take decades before Bui understood the true cost of his unconscious choice.

And it’s why he’ll spend the next decade planting seeds that he hopes can one day frame new paths, and new choices, for a new generation of Vietnamese children.

Recently, amid the symphony of barking dogs and the aromatic smell of diesel fuel, Bui sat on a fishing boat atop the muddy waters of the Mekong River, contemplating how his family’s journey had begun in this exact spot, a lifetime ago.

This was where his parents, along with eighty-five tightly-packed strangers, had summoned the courage to leave the country of their birth in search of a better life.

“They were the age then, 28, that I was when I first came back,” Bui said. “They had no education, no money, and nothing but the clothes on their backs. That’s why I wanted to come back here. I wanted to know exactly the place they had left.

“When you know where you’re from,” he said slowly, “there’s this sense of humanity that sweeps through you. I don’t think you’re ever O.K. until you know exactly where you’re from — and I’ve been on that journey my whole life.”

For anyone who is the child of immigrants, Thanh Bui’s journey will feel familiar. Although he grew up in CONTINUE READING: How the Arts (& #artseducation) Can Save the World – Sam Chaltain