09 September 2015

Dear dad

My dad and a mini-me

My dad was a boat refugee 35 years ago. The current situation in the world has triggered a lot of thoughts in my mind. This is why I decided to write my dad an open letter...

Dear dad, 

You have raised me with values and morals of the Vietnamese and Dutch culture. I know that you have always wanted me to be more Vietnamese, but the Dutch culture took the overhand in my life. We have not always been on the same page and throughout my upbringing we have had our fair share of disagreements. We have learned to come to terms with the relationship that we have as father and daughter.

I have thought about you a lot lately. The news has been all about the boat refugees who are sacrificing everything for a better tomorrow. The images that are shown in the news are daunting my mind. It feels like a repeat of all that you have been through.

We have never spoken about your journey in search for freedom. It is not something that Vietnamese parents talk about with their children. When I was 15, I took it upon myself to research what you have been through. This is when I discovered that you fearlessly dived in the open sea to rescue people who have fallen off of your boat, with the little strength that you had left because of the horrific journey. When I was 25 I went to your homeland and discovered what you have left behind. This made me understand my roots better and taught me to be proud of my Vietnamese heritage.

After 35 years, history seems to be repeating itself. Back then, Dutch sea freighters saved you and brought you to the Netherlands. This was the start of a better future for our family, for which I am eternally grateful.

I truly hope that all my fellow Dutch people and the rest of the world understand that the boat refugees are fighting for their freedom. We must and need to reach out, because it is the human thing to do.

I might not be the daughter that you wanted me to become, but I am very thankful for all that you have sacrificed to give me the life that I am having. We are more alike than we both would ever admit. My work ethic and drive to help those who are less fortunate is what I have inherited from you, along side with the stubbornness gene that we share.

Thank you for the future that you have given me.

Signing off as a grateful daughter.

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