The Lost Souls on the Sea 

Were you ever tired of other kids pointing at you, laughing and telling you: “Ching, Chang, Chong, You Chinese or you Chink?”As a daughter of Vietnamese Immigrants I faced these things a thousand times as many of other of immigrant background. There were  days I asked my parents why I was so different. Why could I not have big eyes, blond hair and be tall? Why do the kids at school bully me? Why are children so mean?

My mother took me into her arms and explained me that it is good to be different.  She said that I should be proud  of what my parents have accomplished and that I am what I am. I was a child so I did not understand what she meant.

Today I’m a Grown Up, have graduated from University and have a job I love. All to my parents who left their home country over 30 years ago. They were boat people, refugees, lost souls on the sea.

I am so proud of my parents who are so brave. The bravest people I know.

When I was a child my mom told me to be good at school and study hard so I can have a good job and life. Take the chances she never had. Fulfill her dreams of freedom.

After the end of the war it was difficult to live in Vietnam. My mom is Catholic, a minority in Vietnam and was not allowed to study. She majored in Maths at school and should stay at home. No chances to study and find a good job. Her older brother was involved with the Americans and had to flee during the war days. So another NO for a catholic girl to study.

One day, when she was visiting her aunt in the countryside, she took the chances to flee. She was 17 years old and desperate. So was her family when they knew that her daughter fled on a small boat. Never to return again. No news for three months.

They believed that she was dead. She was not. She was rescued by a German Ship called Cap Anamur 2 a week after being on the sea. When she reached Hamburg 30 years ago, she sent a letter home. And my dearest grandma cried tears for many many days. Her daughter has survived.

What my parents have seen on the sea cannot be described in words. Rape, Murder, Death are only a few things they saw. The worst one can ever experience. My parents seldom speak about those days.

When witty mom was asked at work why she never complains, she answers that she is grateful for being alive. She faced death on the sea and has won. 

So everytime I want to complain I think of all those souls on the sea. How many have died? How many families were desperately waiting for the children to come home? After all those years are they still waiting? (My American Uncle was lost for about 20 years and we found him a couple years ago … so there are miracle!)

My parents have left all they have to begin a new life somewhere far away. They risked their life to give us a chance to live in freedom.

What happened 30 years ago after Vietnamese War, happens today in Europe. There is war in Syria and Syrians run away from the bombs and devastation. They running for their lifes.

I know that it is not the same. But once Germany has done well and welcomed people looking for a new life.

However Germany cannot handle those refugees alone. 30 years ago there were about 100.000-200.000 Vietnamese Refugees. Now there are triple of them.

Its a giving and receiving. The refugees nowadays should take an example on my parents generation who learned German and adapted to society. They studied or did an apprenticeship. They found work and have built a life on their own. They became German with Vietnamese Roots.

Germany needs help from Europe. So those refugees can have the same chances my generation received. Be proud of your roots. Never forget what your parents have gone through. Never.




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