Food for Thought Vietnamese Feast

This month's Food for Thought dinner was a Vietnamese feast and we all came together to  enjoy a delectable meal of spring rolls, pho bo (beef and noodle soup) and che (sweet pudding). RRAN members got into the Vietnamese spirit and wore traditional Vietnamese garments called ao dai.

Claudia interviewed her mother, Phuong, and we listened to her poignant stories about her harrowing journey that has led her from Vietnam to Australia. Phuong said she left in 1983 after the Vietnam War because she didn't see a future for her and her then 10-day old baby. So she left by boat, as many did back then, knowing that there was a likely chance that she wouldn't survive the journey—however, that was a risk that she was willing to take. 

During Phuong's boat journey, they met with pirates who robbed them of everything they had. They were lucky, Phuong says matter-of-factly, as nobody was killed or raped. She ended up at a refugee camp in Malaysia where she waited for the opportunity to come to Australia. It was close to a year after she left that Phuong was able to contact her family back in Vietnam to let them know she was still alive. 

Claudia says that growing up, her mother was always bringing home various people to stay with the family. When asked why she did this, Phuong remarked, 'I saw myself in them—broken'—a testimony to the fact that your past experiences stay with you, leaving an indelible imprint, and ultimately shaping who you are.