Cultural Interchange

I live in a community composed of two Vietnamese and two Sinsinawa Dominicans.  That means we’re all learning about one another’s culture all the time. So within one week, we celebrated Tet (the Lunar New Year, which fell on February 8th this year) and then Mardi Gras on the 9th.  Vong and Lien decorated and invited a dozen guests for prayers and supper before Tet, but our Mardi Gras was relatively subdued.  Our house is, after all, a house of study and we’re weeks away from mid-term break. 

Tet was an eye-opener for me.  I’ve learned that for many Asian countries, it’s the beginning of spring.  (When I check the newspaper, I find that from now on, the average high temperatures do actually rise.)  In Viet Nam and China, the celebration promises, or at least hopes for, abundance.  People give friends and family money and feast on the best foods they can find—a sort of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years combined.  Having been raised in separate cultures, in a sense the four of us are always on the outside looking in.  Still, it’s been a gift this last year to catch glimmerings, to see “as others see.”  

Win Morgan, OP  
Madison, WI


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