1. “I am a counselor and I am moved by your own depth of self. Not all who have experience such traumata in their life are able to reflect on it and use that energy in such a positive fashion. Your reflections reveal a deep gift of positive interiorization and I can see how you would have been drawn to a life in inner consciousness.”

2. “It was a pleasure for me today to discover and read your moving journal. I do understand your feelings and the cultural issues you raise as I was a French student in Minneapolis St Paul in 1975. Congratulations for your courageous decision to write your own great moving story.”

3. “Thank you for your “Coming Home” journal entries on your website. I have never felt like I quite “fit in” in the U.S., and I will probably have the same experience here, but it’s strangely nice to read about similar experiences and identity issues.”

4. “Dear Tuan. I really appreciated your comments and wholeheartedly agree with many points of view you expressed on your website. I send you respect and appreciation for your website and the observations you expressed.”

5. “You’re definitely not crazy, and some unpleasant but undeniable truths are stated on your website. I entirely agree with you about the grotesque and even pathetic lack of education found in most ‘teachers’ out here. I also agree that there is a tremendous undercurrent (perhaps more correctly ‘overcurrent’) of sexuality and perversion and drunkenness amongst many ‘teachers’ here.”

6. “I hope this is not intruding or odd to you in anyway;
I just want to write a quick note to say thank you;
the life experiences and the thoughts
that you shared on the website are priceless.
they give me an opportunity to experience, learn, and in someway feel things that may not be possible.”

7. “I have just stumbled across your online journal and felt deeply moved by the stories you have shared.

I read the Vietnamese testimonies at the War Crimes Tribunal in 1967 on this page http://www.vietnamese-american.org/vietnamwar.html a while ago, but never realized that there is a personal story page. Today fate let me follow that link and I’ve read your story from childhood and some journal entries you wrote while you were in Viet Nam (are you still at home?). To be honest, at first I was a bit surprised that your politics is against the American invasion of Viet Nam four decades ago because a lot of Vietnamese Americans whose family migrated to the US from Sai Gon seem to be quite extremely anti-Communist and to various degrees pro-America. History somehow gets reduced to the narrative that Viet Nam = communist = corrupt and bloody while US = land of freedom and democracy. I am deeply grateful that stories like yours turn that narrative around and tell what future generations would need to hear.

I am quite at a loss for words at the moment. I just wanted to say that I broke into tears when I read your poem “I wanna go home,” and I want to give you an embrace and say Welcome Home at long last!!!

Even though we have never met, I felt very close to you when i read your stories, as someone who shares the land of ancestors, who shares a certain realization about white America, and who probably shares a lot more. I hope we can be friends and will keep in touch with each other.”

8. “I stumbled on your site while searching for my friend’s web page and I am glad that I did. I read a lot of your entries on your site, and I have to say that you are an excellent writer.

I believe in social justice and creating equality for all. Racism does still exists, although not as blatant as before but it has been woven so intricately into our mindset that we sometimes don’t even realize that it is there.

I hear it from my friends who are of Asian decent who say, “I am just not attracted to Asians.” I despise them for thinking that and yet I see it in myself when I choose to go out with a white girl instead of an Asian girl because I think that she would make me look better in the eyes of others. I am ashamed of myself for having these thoughts.

I do try hard to fight them, but like chronic symptoms they just keep coming back. I do believe that I can grow and overcome this through time, education and experiences. It also helps to major in social work and surround myself with others who try to make things better for everyone.

I hope you’ll keep on sharing your experiences with the world.”

9. “I recently stumbled across your Coming Home writings on the net. I found it to be very interesting and inspirational.

I am an Australian Aboriginal and am glad I came across your journal. Thanks for allowing me to read it. I hope you are very successful in whatever you choose to do and thank you for an insight into your life.

Good luck brother and best wishes.”

10. “I found your website and read your journal because I wondered what other people were going through at that time and found it to be quite inspirational.”

11. “Yes, I found your website purely by accident, though some say nothing is ever by accident but is meant to happen or have happened. I read your stories all in one sitting. I’m sure many people have mentioned before, but I too can see the sadness in them. No one can truly experience what another person experiences but we can try to understand and empathize. But a man of your knowledge and age already knows this. So what I am trying to say is that your stories touched my heart deeply.”

12. “How are you? I just want to tell you that your life story touched me.”

13. “I have read some of your accounts about your trip to Viet Nam. I’ve also had trouble reconciling the fact that I am a Vietnamese-American and live in the country that has committed countless atrocities in Viet Nam. Your accounts from your visit to Viet Nam speak right to my heart. Thank you.”

14. “I am not sure how to say what needs to be said. After reading your story I am both extremely sad and angry at what happened to you. I am hoping that the last entry in your story came to pass and that your life has improved for you. I am a white, 41 year old male college student at Cal State University at Monterey Bay and am preparing for a group presentation on the immigrants from Vietnam and Southeast Asia in general. I would like to use your experience in our presentation in two ways. I am working on a role playing activity for my center regarding the difficulties you and other Vietnamese immigrants experienced. I also intend to hand out a copy of your story to the students in my class. With your permission I would like to do this (with full citation of your website).

I feel a little awkward asking you this as it seems to me like most of America has used you or disregarded you. I am so impressed by your communication skills have you considered writing a book? There are many people who would benefit from what you have to say and the experiences you have had. I won’t pretend I have any idea what your life is like as I have not walked in your shoes. I can only say that I am sorry as an American, white male of your generation. I know that it does not mean much but I hope you can find the happiness you so deserve. I am not sure that all things happen for a purpose. I do believe that we are frequently “tested” in our weakest areas in life. Victory is not in overcoming but in the honest attempt. Shallow words from a privileged, white, male American. Thank you so much again for sharing your story. If you had not made your website I would not know anything about your grave social injustice. Best wishes to you Tuan Tran and may all the days of you life be filled with happiness.”

15. “I just spent 8 months in Saigon teaching English and of course experienced reverse discrimination for the first time in my life. I’ve been very angry and written a story about it to share with my friends and relatives. However, many people in Vietnam and even here in the States didn’t quite grasp the magnitude of blatant ignorance of those English centers. I thought i was the only one until my gf stumbled across your website. It’s nice to know someone wrote to ILA and told them to shove it.”

16. “First and foremost: thank you. Thank you for sharing. The stories, be it tragic or triumphant. The thoughts, revelatory and eloquent. The parallels between your experiences and mine are oddly comforting, even though you are a novel many chapters ahead. I stumbled upon your blog once when searching for those who have made the trip back to the other — more tropical, nostalgic, and dare I say humanistic — side of the pond. And the more I read your blog and the stories of other who have return (notably Andrew Pham and his memoir Catfish and Mandala), the more I am compelled to pack my bags and jet to Vietnam to embrace once again its kinetics and tranquility, synchronized chaos and charms, people and their stories, past and especially its future.

The reasons for my wanting to return to Vietnam: I am tired of my American life, I know too little of Vietnam — and what I do know is of the war, I feel I can be more of a worthwhile human being in Vietnam than in America — who knows, and I’d like to know where I belong.”

17. “I am so much inspired reading your journal about your journey to your homeland. It was such an inspiration for such an immigrant like me residing in this country. I am originally from the Philippines, just like you I am a colored race, Asian, and educated in this country. I am so much happy to be who I am, and I just thought of a person who knows how to trace back one’s history is a person filled with appreciation for their identity. You must be a man with so much passion for your people and it sounds like you care for humanity. You have been through a lot of things and yet it moves you on to be strong and never got discourage by separation but rather head long to hope and love.”

18. “I have read about your accomplishments via the Internet “Tuan Tran’s Journal”. I want to thank you for your writings and giving your perspective as Vietnamese-American.”

19. “I came across your website while doing some research on teaching in Vietnam as a Viet Kieu. I was instantly attracted to your blog about the duality of Vietnamese identity in America and in Vietnam. I, myself, was born in Saigon and have left Vietnam when I was a child. My family left our homeland due to the war and, like most families, we fled to America for economic and social opportunities. I came back to visit Vietnam in 2003 and was immediately drawn to the country in so many ways and for so many reasons. I loved all my visits to Vietnam and now I’m seriously considering coming over to stay longer, hopefully learning more about the people, cultures, traditions and everything else in between.”

20. “How I wish I would have read your blog before I went to Saigon, because I would have loved to have met you. I admire your frank and honest opinions of the U.S., Vietnam and ESL teachers in Vietnam.”

21. “i am a vietnam veteran
I read your stories and your right wing stuff at the site you have.
You know why your country is communist?
Because of people like you who ran with their tails between their legs.
If my country (USA) was ever taken over by the communist I would not run or hide, I would be dead or fighting them in my country.
It is chickens like you who came to the USA and other countries why VN is communist.
It is not Jane Fonda’s fault.
It is not Kissinger’s fault.
It is not Nguyen Cao Ky’s fault.
It is not John Kerry’s fault.
It is not Bush’s fault.
When you people realize that, then you can begin to defeat communism!
You left all your brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and cousins to rot
while you made riches in America!
You all should be ashamed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

22. “I read through your page and am saddened by all the hardship you went through. My dad fled for America the exact same day you did except he ended up in Alabama and eventually moved to Alaska then to Seattle. Your story is very inspiring and I hope you continue your writing and take it to a professional level. I believe you have the talent and many other young Vietnamese-Americans would love to hear your story.”

23. “As a soldier, my function was to follow orders while attempting to stay alive. It was not to decide if the war was right or wrong. I make no apologies!

You made a comment that the hatred you nourish only hurts you. That too is false. You have opened an old wound, one that may never heal.

Use your Vietnamese racism card and any help you need should be free. I’m certain you know how to work the system. If America isn’t good enough for you go back to Vietnam. Stay there this time.”

24. “I just stumbled upon your site by accident. It made me think. All these years being ignorant of history and seeking comfort by it. Thank you for sharing with courage and honesty your story. I hope the difficult path of yours has finally quieted to bring you peace in your days.”

25. “I came across your website after googling experiences of Viet Kieu teaching in Vietnam. First of all, I want to thank you for sharing your experiences of discrimination and frustrations in both America and Vietnam. Your triumph over these atrocities are truly inspiring. I admire your courage, your strength, your conviction, and your fearlessness in exposing the nature of the white English teaching programs in Vietnam. I too desire the point in my life where I can find my place and peace of mind as a Vietnamese-American. Thoughts of being discriminated in the motherland is discouraging. But after reading your website journal, I have even more reason to pursue my passion and desire to live and teach in Vietnam.

I was also born in Vietnam but moved to the US in 1980 with my parents when I was only 3 months young. I would imagine the racism and discrimination that you experienced as a young adult to be much greater than my own considering your experiences were a decade earlier(arguably a time of greater racism). If there was a Heisman trophy for the biggest hypocrite, the United States would take it home uncontested. Its legacy of being founded on white ideology and white supremacy still plays out today and without a doubt will continue for god knows how long. Though I am very grateful for the education and lessons that I’ve learned here, I am ready to move back to Vietnam.

This past summer I participated in a three month volunteer program to teach TOEFL lessons in various universities in Vietnam. It was my first time back and the trip forever changed my life. I’ve definitely gained life experiences and made great friends that I hope to see in the near future. Addition to these experiences, the racism and hatred that I experienced in America was amplified while teaching in Vietnam. Though I was not surprised, I was quite disappointed to see the whites overall treatment of the native Vietnamese people as disrespectful. Before my arrival, I imagined that the white individuals visiting Vietnam would possess opened hearts and minds considering they are leaving the comforts of a western lifestyle for a third world country. But that is not the case.

Vietnam is poisoned by western image and ideology, but as you’ve mentioned in your internet journal there is progression towards a more positive Vietnam and the increase of Viet Kieu employment in teaching centers illustrates this positive progression. I believe that in the near future there will be a better Vietnam even in terms of its obsession with the West. And I truly believe that this progression can be made with the alliances of Viet Kieus and the native Vietnamese people. Western ideas and practices that Viet Kieus acquire can help to steer Vietnam’s desire for the West in a more positive direction. In addition, western educations that Viet Kieus have obtained can contribute to the growth of Vietnam.”

26. “Great to read your life story Tuan on your web site. I think you are a very good and humble man and you are a perfect example of how a man can be, very healthy and strong and muscular and good looking with perfect skin and teeth. I hope you have many children.”

Thank you for the compliment. Although I do have a six-pack or washboard stomach – just kidding, I am not Tuan Tran the bodybuilder.

Also, thank you for all of your emails. I have been persecuted in many ways such as losing teaching jobs both in the USA and in Vietnam because of my website. I have even been physically confronted for exercising my freedom of speech. There was even an attempt to assassinate me and made to look like a traffic accident for my belief and my writing on my website.

I could see now if I had been anonymous in my writing on my website then life would have been a lot easier for me, and I wouldn’t have suffered so much. But I believe in honesty and in the freedom of speech. Furthermore, I wanted to help other Vietnamese Americans, and I knew they could only relate to my story if they see a common experience with a person that is real rather than anonymous.

Again, thank you for your emails. It’s emails such as yours that help me to realize that all of my effort is not wasted.


Tuan Tran