by Tam Hoang, C.PP.S., Vietnam Mission
A difference is a normal thing in life. For me, differences make me interested in understanding the language, culture, people, and world around me.
Differences interest me when I discover them. I went to the United States in the last days of summer of 2010. The sun was still very beautiful, the leaves of trees were green, and the weather was cool, for summer was beginning to move into the fall. My first impression about Chicago was that it was a city with many trees and animals, such as squirrels and birds. It made me remember my childhood in my hometown in Vietnam.
When I came to the United States, my formators as well as other candidates and companions helped me very much, so I felt excited to live in a new city and in the love of community who is like my second family.
Confronting the difference are opportunities to understand myself and others better. When I have to speak other language, contact with other culture, and live in another environment, I discover the need to transform myself to adapt to new things. For example, I have to speak English everyday, so I cannot think in Vietnamese to speak English, I have to practice thinking in English to speak English. Therefore, I have to transform my thinking to English when I speak English. Also, I have to transform my cultural point of reference when I am in contact your culture. I have to keep my point of reference, but I have to adapt to yours. However, I have to discern what is good and bad in my cultural reference and translate them to your culture in order to decide to keep them or give them up. I have to open my heart and mind to receive them. Finally, I have to adapt to a new environment when I live in a country where there are four seasons. Each season has its interest and harshness. Through the many differences, I need to transform myself in order to understand myself and others better. This is an opportunity to spend my life in diversity of culture, religiousness, and ideas.
However, I have never stopped thanking to God because He gives me the opportunity to live in another country and environment. I thank all you for your open hearts to receive me, the opportunity to learn more about the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and my mission in the future. Through the new environment, I understand more than about other languages or cultures. I believe God put me in a new environment in order to learn, feel, and recognize what God is doing in my life. In particular, it helps me continue discerning my vocation in the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and do everything I need to for my mission in Vietnam. Although I still believe that God is always with me, I also feel afraid as Moses afraid to face Pharaoh: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Ex 3: 11).
I still know that difference is normal in life, but in order to overcome it, I need to have courage, belief, and trust in God. I also thank you all for respecting the difference in me and being patient with me. I believe God invites us to welcome difference in each other.