For a little vacation treat I took my 15yo sister with me to get our nails done last night. We just ran to a nail place down the street, and hoped they could fit us in as walk-ins. They were happy to do so, but it meant that we needed to wait, as most of the staff was leaving, and there would be only 1 nail technician. Fine with me, I’ll just sit comfortably in this pedicure chair and read while my sister’s gel manicure is drying.
The nail technician was a Vietnamese immigrant. She’s been in the United States for 12.5 half years, coming to the Unites States after her Chinese husband moved out of their house, divorced her and disowned their children after she failed to give birth to a boy. She tried to contact his parents after he left, only to be told they had no idea who she was. Can you imagine?
She had been studying medicine in college when her father was arrested and became a political prisoner. When he was imprisoned her family was barred from education past the 8th grade equivalent. Again, what?
In Vietnam her mother was a doctor. She came to the US when she was 50. She does nails, too.
She talked of her cousin who watched her husband and son die by beheading. She told of cannibalism on cross Pacific voyages to the United States.
I asked her if she thought the United States involvement in Vietnam was good or bad for the country, and she said there wasn’t an easy answer. She said the involvement allowed people in Vietnam glimpses of the way life could be in the United States, but that a lot of devastation resulted from the war.
She heatedly, and with what looked like tears in her eyes talked about Communist leaders who would build bombs with their money, while ignoring the hunger of their populations. (A reference to North Korea.)
She’s taking classes towards a nursing degree at the community college in town. Hoping to do something other than “mess with people’s feet forever.”
These conversations are such a powerful reminder for me, and an eye opener for my sister, of the security and peace I have in my life. I occupy a place of privilege. The obstacles I face in my life are a challenge, but they are so much less than the obstacles so many other people face.
It’s good to be reminded of that.