Story by Vi Nguyen. Translations by Nam Hoang.
Audio Transcript: English
[Vi Nguyen]: So when I arrived it was the 18th of January. About a week later that year it was Lunar New Year, and we had the customary celebrations. I was invited to perform, to sing. I wore a red traditional “ao dai” and sang the song “Xuan mien Nam.”
That New Year, the Vietnamese Students [Youth] Association also danced with me. We found traditional garments and hats to perform with. We even got a hundred dollars! When the organizers asked me what I needed, I asked for the money so that we could treat ourselves to a nice meal together.
Your Aunt Van was the MC I think. And your dad and Aunt Tu performed a dance as well! What was the dance again?
[Tri Hoang]: “Tran Thu Luu Don”
[Vi Nguyen]: Ah right. It was about soldiers who were garrisoned in far off, remote outposts. They were very lonely. These soldiers were very low in rank and just garrisons, so they didn’t see much action out there either. So the costumes for your dad and Aunt Tu, I also took care of those. It was funny, because the both of them had masks on, so no one could tell if they were women or men who were dancing anyway! You couldn’t even tell what way they were really facing because both sides were covered! Your dad made the hats, don’t they look great? The character on the front of their garments means that they’re the lowest rank in the military. Your Aunt Tu was wearing a watch, with a thinner wristband, that was the only giveaway that there was actually a man and a woman on stage dancing!