By Tuan-Rishard F. Schneider
While in college in Madison, Wisconsin, I became more aware of racism.
It wasnt till I was shopping, socially drinking, or playing soccer,
when I started to hear the rudest racial comments. Coming from a bigger
city, things like chink, gook or whatever was
never really heard. Only when I got to college at a private catholic college
playing soccer did I freak out hearing that. While playing in a game in
Green Bay, Wisconsin, against the state team, did I hear from the stands
Take that chink out! Hes going to hurt someone! Yes my style
was aggressive, to single me out wasnt that bad if they were to
mention my number on my jersey
but they didnt. They singled
me out due to my ethnicity and used a very derogative word to cut me down.
Very immature and red neck I thought. I didnt let it
bother me the first year playing soccer. But after the second year and
third year, it got to me, and I played even nastier. I even started to
yell back at the fans, and when the captains of my team told me to blow
it off, I got even angrier. As I even asked the coach to say something
to the referees, who were not only blind but also deaf. Being the only
Asian in the conference I had no one to talk to about this. No one could
relate, help defend me or support me when I needed it the most. Being
away from home in another state, my parents couldnt always be there,
but by phone only. As the years passed, I noticed more diversity within
the conference, and could talk to the other players from other teams.
As we are still friends now and still shake our heads about the things
the drive back from the games made me hate the state of Wisconsin even
more, and a grudge against white people, I found myself getting into bar
fights. It started one weekend, to another one, and then finally till
I was so bad, that people wouldnt want to go out with me wondering
if I was going to cause trouble. Alcohol and anger really dont mix
I have learned. As my years in Madison became longer and an introduction
to another Vietnamese guy, Vu, I started to feel a little more accepted.
Talking with him, I noticed he had somewhat an identity situation too.
His parents taught him Vietnamese as he spoke it only at home, but while
growing up, he too wanted to just fit in. His English was perfect and
his likeness between us helped me feel comfortable meeting his parents
and hang out with him. I met another Vietnamese student who was like Vu,
I connected the two, and the three of us were always together on the weekends.
Minh Nguyen, Vu Nguyen, and me, Tuan Nguyen. Funny how that looks; we
all had the same last name and hung out together. They were my support
group in teaching me some of the culture I missed by taking me into their
homes and eating with their families, taking me to the Tet celebration
and basically making me feel comfortable with them. For once, I felt as
if I was getting my roots back. It wasnt much, but a
start. Even though I wasnt completely a part of their family I felt
just as close to them as my parents for the time I spent in Madison, WI.
I still felt a little uncomfortable when I couldnt completely understand
the conversations, knowing they were about me, but it was a factor I had
to learn. When I told my new buddies whom I considered cousins about my
trip to Colorado, they asked me if it was going to be like the Baltimore
reunion. I wasnt sure, but I did know that I was excited and looking
forward to it.
While in Colorado, I noticed a few things: a division between adoptees,
which lead to acceptance of others. Its expected that way when people
are all thrown together for the first time under our circumstances that
there will be some sort of division. The reunion started and finished
with hugs and joyful smiles, and ended in questions. The first night as
we were set up in dormitory rooms with 5 people per room, most of us being
college graduates, my room decided to throw a party, inviting everyone
including parents. The next few days were learning days about some of
our missing pasts and how we were prepared and finally brought to America
and other countries. The one conference I attended that moved me the most
emotionally was that of the fathers of the adoptees. Many people recognize
and feel for the mothers who released or placed their children up for
adoption. Many of us Vietnamese adoptees are children of American or other
foreign fathers who fought in the war, otherwise known as GI Babies.
Many young men had fallen in love with the beautiful women of Viet Nam,
and may have gone back into the jungles to fight and die or were injured
and returned back to America, or whatever country that helped the South
Vietnamese army. Returning home injured wasnt easy for the fathers
who may have lost their friends in combat, but also leaving a loved one
behind was even harder. A loved one whom may have had one of us.
The last day of our reunion we formed an organization, which is called
VAN, the Vietnamese Adoptee Network. As the days came to an end, we again
said our farewells and open new doors to new people, but we werent
sure about is when we would have another great gathering as we just did
the last two reunions. The people who organized them in past years now
gave the future reunions and gatherings to us to organize.
More Vietnam Adoption