Grace Brown grew up is a neighbor who grew up in San Jose, California. She grew up in a small family with a single mother and a brother who is two years younger than she is. As many single mothers are, Grace’s mother was always busy with her jobs in the office and at home. Consequently, there was not much conversation Grace had with her especially about matters like cultures and races. She claims that perhaps what influenced her more about her perceptions about Vietnamese is the neighborhood wherein he grew up. She had a few Vietnamese neighbors whose children her age became her playmates. She recalls that she once had a girlfriend who sometimes invited her to their house to play with her toys. She was always glad to join her because she did not like staying at home with her brother and their caretaker. The mother of her Vietnamese girlfriend was very friendly who was always ready with a big smile to welcome her whenever she knocks at their door or even when she is still a few meters away calling for her friend. She says the mother often talked with broken English because they just arrived in the country just a few years so that she was not yet able to communicate well in English. Sometimes, Grace says, her playmate has to explain to her the things her mother is telling her because oftentimes, even if she was speaking in English, she was not able to understand what she was saying. According to her, the words seemed strange and unrecognizable. However, she loved to listen to the woman because she had a soft voice and whenever she spoke with her friend in their language, the conversation came quite funny but enjoyable. As a child, she perceived all Vietnamese as soft-spoken, loving and hospitable. Grace says she liked the way her friend’s family treated each other because they seemed to be so full of love. Growing up without a father, Grace admired her friend’s father who seemed to be always present in the house although her friend says he worked at a restaurant. She thinks her friend’s childhood was more complete and enjoyable because of the presence of both her mother and father. Consequently, this made her make up her mind to someday find a man like her friend’s father who will not just be able to perform his duties as a breadwinner but as a helper in the upbringing of the children as well. Grace thinks that perhaps the most misconstrued images of Vietnamese is that, since they do not speak English well, speaking with them is just a waste of time. Such problem is rampant among them that they are often shouted at by American employers, storeowners or neighbors. She says she once witnessed an American storeowner who was calling a Vietnamese customer names because she was taking much of the storekeeper’s time. She felt sorry for the customer but she did not do anything to defend her or at least help her with her needs and this made her feel guilty. With such an experience, Grace says that people should try to be more understanding and considerate about other races and cultures because sometimes, the color of one’s skin or the language one speaks is not after all what defines a person but his actions and thoughts. She then suggests that in order to understand the Vietnamese better, one should learn to speak their language if it is the easier way of communicating with them rather than wait
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