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English, Foreign Languages and English as a Second Language

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Vuong Nguyen

In my life, I have had a lot of experiences, but the most important one is understanding the differences in culture between my country and America. The three things that I want to talk about are family loyalty, individual freedom, and education. These issues have influenced me both in the way I act and think. It all started when I was still in Vietnam, and as a clear thought to me after my arrival to the United States.

When I lived in Vietnam, I knew that family loyalty was one of the essential manners in my family as well as in Vietnamese society. Most of the families in my country included parents who took control of all the activities of their children. They were never allowed to speak their minds or do as they wished. We had to absolutely obey our parents. It is right to say that we did not have any freedom. Nothing like that existed in our minds.

As a result of this lack of freedom, I have seen many family tragedies in Vietnam. Sometimes, the children had to leave their home to live elsewhere because they could not live without freedom. I knew a friend who lived near my house in Vietnam. He was a good son at home and an honor student in school Because of his love of nature and all other things around him, he wanted to do field research after high school graduation. However, his parents wanted him to go to college and become a doctor. They thought a doctor's degree would automatically grant him a high status in society, so they could also be proud and be respected by their neighbors. Furthermore, his parents believed that being a doctor would earn their son a lot of money, so he could support them when they grew old. Because of these reasons, his parents forced him to pursue a field in which he was not interested. He felt that he had to follow his heart, so he decided to leave home and live wit!h his friends.

Through my experience with this tragedy in Vietnam, I have tried to search for an answer to family conflict. Sometimes, I thought that parents did not understand their children's true feelings. They wanted theirchildren to be obedient, and they had the power to do so. However, their children's true feeling is to have freedom. When I came to America, I realized that freedom is very important to young people, especially teenagers. I learned that having freedom was natural for them because it is granted under the Constitution. Since all "men" were created "equal," they had the right to do whatever they wanted because they were "equal" to their parents.

To further understand freedom in American families, I started a few conversations with some American parents. They all told me that they wanted their children to become independent. The most surprising fact was that American parents could not force their children to do what they did not want to do. In Vietnam, freedom was never allowed to be a topic of discussion, especially under the communist regime. Teenagers here do not seem to understand that freedom is hard to get. They take it for granted and most of the time they use it excessively. As a result, they ruin their lives in darkness. No one can help them. In the end, they have to stand up by themselves to become independent and responsible adults.

The significant difference between family loyalty and the right to freedom continues to puzzle me. I can not say that one is better than the other. I have my own principle that is based on my intellect and honor. I believe that we, as human beings, are intelligent enough to identify all obstacles in our lives as either right or wrong. No one should be able to change our minds. At the same time, we have to seek advice from our parents, so we can become more responsible and independent adults in our society, both in Vietnam and in America.

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