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Lunar New year, A Reflection of Oneself  

As an Asian-American, I often find myself caught between two worlds, forever stuck in the hyphen that is “Asian-American.”  I am neither Asian enough nor entirely American, perpetually viewed as an outsider. 

I arrived in the United States at the age of 7, retaining only fragments of memories from my early years in Vietnam. I strived to assimilate into American life. The allure of blending seamlessly with my peers and embracing Western custom often eclipsed the traditions my parents sought to uphold.

My parents, uncles, and aunts tirelessly tried to preserve our cultural identity through old customs and traditions for the kids in the extended family. However, as a child and teenager, I viewed these practices as outdated, tired, and unnecessary.  

During Lunar New Year, the adults in my extended family would pull all kids out of school. We would gather at my Grandma’s house to exchange New Year greetings with blessing words such as 恭喜发财 (gōng xǐ fā cái) or 万事如意 (wàn shì rú yì). Red envelopes would be given to the children followed by traditional Chinese meals and a trip to the local temple.

As a child, I would go through the motions, looking forward most to the money inside the red envelopes, without truly appreciating what it represented—a token of love and a symbol wishing us luck for the new year. 

As the years pass, and with a few gray hairs and two little kids, I often reflect and question who I am- why I think the way I do and why I act the way I do. I’ve gravitated towards my Asian roots, finding comfort in learning more about the threads woven together to make up the fabric of my confusing “hyphenated” identity. Ironically, I am now the one trying to uphold the customs for my kids.

I now realize that Lunar New Year, and other holidays, is more than just a series of rituals and celebrations; it is a profound reflection of our collective Asian-American identity. It serves as a bridge between our past and present, connecting the old world with the current. The New Year’s vibrant red decorations, the tantalizing aroma of traditional dishes, and the joyous gatherings with family create a mosaic of cultural richness. For one moment, we are transported to a seemingly simpler time. That sense of nostalgia and connection with one’s root is powerful and fills us with hope for the future. 

Recently, Tina Huang, GLIDE’s Client Advocate at our Walk-In Center, held a spectacular Lunar New Year celebration for the Asian seniors in our community. She, along with our facility crew, transformed Freedom Hall with vibrant decorations.

 

Seeing all the smiling faces was truly special and heartwarming. The parade of seniors adorned in traditional qi pao gave a sense of being transported to ancient times. The clapping, laughter, and chatter were magical. 

I wish everyone a Happy Lunar New Year, Happy Chinese New Year, CHÚC MỪNG NĂM MỚI, Xīnnián kuàilè (新年快乐),  Manigong Bagong Taon, Haengbokan Saehae Doeseyo (행복한 새해 되세요), and in all other ways in which it is expressed.

A personal reflection by:
Tri Nguyen, GLIDE’s Director of Marketing and Digital Communications

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