Tag Archives: culture

Fresh of the Boats // “FOBS”

It’s funny how perspectives and opinions change as we get older. I thank my experiences and the knowledge I have gain throughout my 22 / almost 23 years of life. I am hungry for more knowledge, about my people, about our struggle as a community, and our roots.

Fresh of the Boats. FOBS. A term used in my high school to create a division between my Vietnamese brothers and sisters. Separating those who spoke Vietnamese, who spoke Vietnamese and English, and those who forgot their native tongue and recited only the English language.

FOBS. A term used to degrade and devalue people who knew little English and nothing about the American culture. Who knew nothing about fashion and wore clothes that were hand me downs or handmade by their mothers. Pieces of different fabrics to create a protection of their body and skin.

FOBS. A term used for those who spoke Vietnamese with pride and continuing conversations out loud regardless of knowing little or fluent in English.

FOBS. A term used in disgust because “they” brought shame to the Vietnamese community in this American society. “We,” Vietnamese Americans, judge them for not matching up to American morals and values.

FOBS. Referring to our parents who were the real “Boat People” that fled the communist homeland for a better life elsewhere. Who, survived treacherous water of the sea with scarce resources of basic human necessities of food and water. Who waited in camps to find refuge in other countries who are willing to take them. Some, waited 6 months – 1 year while others never left the refugee camps.

FOBS. My mother. My Brother. My Family. Who lived in Hong Kong. Who Lived in Philippines for two years. Who stayed in PRPC, Philippine Refugee Processing Center. Who had little space to sleep, and literally fetched water with a bucket. Who stood in line for food. Who’s trip to California was delayed because of my due date. Born in a refugee camp, I will not forget what my family has gone through for my well being and survival.

Anyways. Just a little something I was thinking about. I need to do some more research about this / gather anecdotes from my family ahha!



100 Poems | 100 Days: Day 3

Day 3 y’all. I’m trying to be consistent. Note* I like to write spoken word poetry so it’s meant to be read out loud. I am thinking I might record my poems or perform it .. kinda .. to have videos instead of just words. We’ll see.

My name is Nguyen, Dao Cong Han
Family name Nguyen, Given name Han
Legal or Government name Trish
Growing up I loved school but I hated the first day of class
Stepping through the doors of Kindergarten, I highly anticipated a great day
Looking over my shoulders, my peers were crying as their parents left them
Roll call, as the teacher would say
Was my most hated moment
Nervously I pulled my braided pony tail to the front as I waited for my name to be called
Han? Hand? Cong? Hon Kong?
I hear little laughs

It’s Han

This happened every single year throughout elementary school.
What’s worse? Substitute teachers.
It seems like they don’t give a fuck. So they would pronounce it anyway they want.

In middle school, my mom passed her citizenship test.
I was given the opportunity to change my name. So call me Trish.
But little did I know, more Vietnamese students were integrated into our schools
The teachers had to learn our names and I had less trouble with Han

High school
I want to apologize to those I called FOBs.
For people  who don’t know, they stand for “Fresh off the Boats”
Immigrants to the U.S.
They spoke Vietnamese in their circles with little courtesy to “American Culture”
You live in America not in Vietnam so stop being so annoying, were the thoughts going through my head

But now as I look back
What gives me the right to judge people of my color
Why did I hate the fact that, they spoke their native tongue, as I ignored mine
Somewhat, I felt superior because I knew the language of this so called “America”
I was brainwashed thinking the American way was the right way but in reality it was really the white way.
Colonialism at its finest
Society shaped this little girl to think that her name was not good enough
That she should be ashamed of her people, her culture and should embrace hot dogs and hamburgers
Because fish sauce was too strong and the only accepted Vietnamese food is Pho
You never want to be “too Asian” because racial slurs like Chink matters
And if you do anything else wrong you’ll end up in Alexandra Wallace’s video
Derogatory terms and bigotry against this skin that I cannot peel off
By the age of 5, I figured out my shade of yellow before I learned the English colors of my crayon box

Well baby, if you want me, say my name like it’s worth knowing
My name is Nguyen, Dao Cong Han
Family name Nguyen, Given name Han