Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America
















In English Class three weeks ago, we were asked to write an essay about the journeys of our first family members to America. I had decided to write about my aunt and her family. She is the third child in the family that has three kids. Growing up female, she was totally under the control of the Confucian order of the Three Obediences in action: the daughter obeys the father, the wife obeys the husband, and, eventually, the widow obeys the son.

The Confucian tradition was obviously stacked against her, as a girl. And as I was told later, she left her country to avoid the Confucian and to profit her family. My aunt and her husband came from Vietnam and settled in Boston in 1982, the same year their first kid was born. Leaving their homeland did not mean leaving their cultural heritage. When they arrived, Boston already had a warm and welcoming Vietnamese community. Although there were few, oriental markets and real Asian restaurants dotted the neighborhood. Religious items necessary for Buddhist ceremony and home shrines were readily available. Moreover, being placed in an environment that was so different from their home in Hanoi reinforced their sense of cultural identity.

Unlike many Vietnamese families who tried to assimilate in America as quickly as possible in order to ensure an easier transition, they made a conscious effort to maintain their heritage and impart some Vietnamese culture on their two children. When other children make fun of their kids, or if news reports demanded Vietnam, she reminded them that our ancestors wore luxurious silks and invented gunpowder while Europeans still huddled naked in caves.

Growing up, it was natural for their kids to speak Vietnamese at home, eat rice with every meal, celebrate the lunar New Year, and spend their free time after school with other Vietnamese kids. In their minds, this was the normal American life. However, the complacency the kids developed in their neighborhood in Boston was quickly shattered when they enrolled in the suburban private schools. They were the only Asian kids in the entire middle schools. Until then, they never had to evaluate their ethnicity or thought of themselves as the outsiders. Their new classmates dressed differently, had parents who went to college and spoke perfect English, and played hockey and lacrosse. While coming from the inner-city public schools had something to do with the initial culture shock, they are certain the their being a first Vietnamese-Americans were partly responsible for how they felt. Like every other impressionable middle-school kids, they immediately tried to blend in.

As the years progressed, they developed the new identities that combined where they came from with where they were. Many people argue that growing up in a working-class and Vietnamese neighborhood is limiting and intellectually stifling. Others would say that the New England prep schools are the protective bubbles where real world events and issues are not addressed. Owing to the balance of their parentsí cultural influences and their educations at schools, they were able to avoid the pitfalls of both environment and benefit from the diversity the two settings provided. As they are getting ready for their first year in college, they are eager to encounter a whole new learning environment and, of course, bring with them their own cultural heritage to share.











        Is there anybody out there who hasn't at one time or another wished for such a place, hasn't turned those soft words over until they'd assumed a habitable shape? What they propose to anyone who admits them into the space of a daydream, is a place of solitude a few step off the beaten track of everyday life. Beyond that, though, the form the dream takes seems to vary with the dreamer. Generally the imagined room has a fixed terrestrial address, whether located deep within the family house or out it the woods under its own roof. For some people, though, the same dream can just as easily assume a vehicular form. I'm thinking of the one_person thingypit or cabin, a mobile room in which to journey some distance from the shore of one's usual cares. Fixed or mobile, a dream of escape is what this probably sounds like. But it's more like a wish for a slightly different angle on things for the view from the towe, or tree line, or the bobbing point a couple hundred yards off the coast. It might be a view of the same old life, but from out here it will look different, the outlines of the self a little more distinct.

         In my own case, there came a small place in my garden where I had spent the last two weeks to observe it myself. It's now near the end of the fall. Autumn leaves start to fall. They cover the whole surface of the garden completely. I am supposed to clean it up every weekends but I was too lazy to clear the garden for the last two weeks. I just left it there like that naturally. This place has been so familiar with me that I could picture it from anywhere, anytime. From my garden, I could see my neighbors.

         Emerson said: " I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all." One the field of this garden, where my cousins and  I used to play football during the summer, I had spent time sitting there all alone to listen, to watch, the test my humor senses of responsibility with nature. Many things had changed during the last two weeks. I found some of them were quite interesting. I noticed the soccer ball at the corner of the garden which wasn't there three days ago. Far away, one of the neighbors' houses'd had a new paint. I think they are eagerly prepared for Christmas. Talking about Christmas, my family had bought a new lightballs system. It has been ready to be put up to celebrate New Year, but in a mean time, we leave it on the field of the garden. I also realized a few diffent changes but they don't seem that important.

         This garden is just as normal as many other American places. There are flowers, clean_cut grass... in this garden. There is also a little walk through the whole field. It's naturally represents the beauty of nature. This is the most secret place in the world as far as I concern. People don't come here usually and even if they do, they would stay here for long. That's why I love this place. It stands there naturally and quietly. It seems to last forever with nature.













      The person that I decided to write about is my older cousin _ Mark Nguyen. Member of ACC' class of 2002, 18 year old, skillful in computer technology, he is the most talented kid that I've never seen when he sits in front of the computer. By using his unimaginable, unbelievable, and unusual skill which had been developed since he was 10 year old, he could locate in any security system in about half an hour. He also makes fake IDs for his friends so that they could get into the night clubs legally. He makes so much money out of it. He gets $50 from each ID that he sells.
  Besides being a master of technology, he's also a sport cars lover. He has the Honda S2000 Silver/Black which makes him proud of. He had been down to California and Ohio to join in those street racing clubs. He always talks about his car. After watching "The Fast and The Furious" on his Bose DVD system in his car the other night, he asked me: "Yo, you know that they were gonna invite me to cast in that movie first?"
  "Whatever, man" _ I replied.
  He went: "They seriously were, but then they decided to invite that Chinese guy because I drive too fast."
  I realized that he was joking as soon as he started laughing. But I have to agree that he drives too fast. He got caught speeding more than six times this summer on the same street. One time, when he was going 75 mph while the speed limit was 35 mph, I had to tell him to slow down. He just said wildly: "I don't give a d**n! I run this city, I run this state. I'll do whatever I want."
  When asked why he doesn't care about school and applying for colleges, he said he wanted to open his own business right after he graduates high school. He listed something that kept distracting him: Honda S2000, alcohol and drugs, Final Fantasy X and www.asianavenue.com. What a character!














     The 19th Century had observed many special events especially in America. During the Civil War, it had been changed in many different ways. Our society had changed, our social lives had changed and even our literature had changed as well. This century was the period of time when we had many great poets such as Walt Whitman, Emily thingyinson... This was the time when people like Walt Whitman used their abilities to write many great poems. One of many poems from Walt Whitman is "O Captain! My Captain!" This poem shows the readers Whitman's view of death and his admiration of our beloved President _ Abraham Lincoln.

     "O Captain! My Captain!" is known as on of the memories to President Lincoln. It shows their friendly relationship. It was Whitman who admired and believed in Lincoln politically. It was Whitman who had described Lincoln as a gentle, plain, just and resolute man. It was Lincoln who was under the cautious hands but still saved the Union. It was Lincoln who read Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" out loud in his law office. The poem itself had said it. Everyone elase had said it. This poem is a best description for their friendship.

      "O Captain! My Captain!" was written when one of the worst events of the war happened to occur _ the assassination of President Lincoln. The murder of Lincoln had affected the poet's mind. Walt Whitman put his critics of Lincoln's death through the poem's trinity of symbols. While Whitman was reowned as the most innovative of American poets, this poem is a rare example of his use of rhymed, rhythmically regular verse, which serves to create a somber yet exalted effect. Whitman had envisioned Lincoln as and archangel captain, and reportedly dreamed the night before the assassination about a ship entering harbor under full sail. The image of a ship coming into the port of democracy and anti-slavery with its captain "fallen cold and dead". The external shape of the poem also looks like a gun which represents the President's murder.

     Have you ever kept rewriting a story or poem because you just weren't satisfied with it? Walt Whitman wrote "O Captain! My Captain!" in 1865, but he revised it in 1866, and again in 1871. This is because he wanted to make its singsong quality and rhythms perfectly. He had revised it to fit with what he considered a landmark in American History. One of its three stanzas should suffice for and illustration of its quality:

          "O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done,
           The ship had weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won..."

      I like this poem because it's just so "American" and I like how Whitman brought up the issue of President Lincoln's murder. Whitman sings from the heart of his own experience to weep for all Americans. Whitman saw that the only way to accept Lincoln's death was to understand death itself as the ultimate soother of life's ills and divine midwife deserving of its own apostrophe. This is why the poem became so famous. This is why everyone loved to read it. And thus, this is why Whitman had said he was almost sorry he ever wrote it.


























     While playing soccer at Rugby School of England in 1823, William Webb Ellis picked up the ball in his hand and ran with it. This sparked an interest, leading to the creation of rugby. Cambridge University immediately adopted the game, popularized it and made local rules. The game grew popular at area schools and in 1871, ten years after the common rules of soccer were set, the first Rugby Union was founded in London and firm rules of the game were established.
   The game continued to play with rugby rules until the 1900s where the publication of photographs of a harsh game between Swarthmore and Pennsylvania created a stir. President Theodore Roosevelt insisted on reform of the game to lower the brutality with threat of abolishing the game by edict. Some people say that rugby is a dangerous sport. The players can't use any pad to protect their bodies. But I think it is less dangerous and interesting than American football. Have you ever watched a rugby game on TV? It's boring because you don't know the rules well and it seems like the game would never end. In football, our players actually tackle hardly. I think if we put up a game between an American football team and a British rugby team, the American team would definitely win. You can't hit too hard in rugby because you might hurt yourself.
   The game is hard itself. But beside facing the toughness of the games, the players also have to deal with all the critics. When they win, they are barely greeted with great contradictions. But if they lose some games, they are the main issue of all the newspapers. Because of this, some players who just can't deal with the critics have decided to quit. Some of them decided to try out for American football. Jonah Lomu is an example. He is one of the biggest names in rugby. He plays for a professional club in New Zealand. He says that he is offered to join the American football league because he is talented. If he wants to leave, then he is still welcome back to New Zealand whenever he wants.
    Most of the players are not lucky like Jonal Lomu because they are not as great as him. They are not well known in the United States. Therefore, they are not well prepared after their careers. They are not famous and they don't make that much money. They only play the sport because they like it. "It's the responsibility of the players association that these players are taken care of, not just during their playing career, bust so they are alos well prepared to deal with life after rugby." said Rob Nichol. He had played for the US national team. Now retired, he is lucky to be a representative of the US rugby association. I think most players in the US are not aware of the professionalism of rugby. They love the game and that's the main reason that keep them playing. Diana Parkhurst said: "I only play the game because I love it." She is the captain of the Boston Women's rugby club. It's the club for all amateurs. She is the manager of Gap Clothing, INC stores in Copley mall. She plays rugby to keep herself in shape and for the fun of it.
   There are many clubs in the United States, likewise rugby reemerged. College campuses turn to the sport because it is one where many could play and escape the rigid discipline and professionalism inherent in college football. Minimal costs, constant action and the opportunity for frequent play with a primary emphasis on fun also attract many. The sport continues to grow and now played in over 80 countries worldwide. The rules of rugby continue to evolve and amateurism remains as dominant characteristic.