My family's journey epitomizes the mythic American Dream. The United States is a land of immigrants -- beginning with the Pilgrims that inspired Thanksgiving -- who come for freedom and opportunity. And that's why the debate over Syrian refugees hits home for me.
As this once war-ridden country rushes towards the future, Vietnamese-Americans like me are coming back with a desire to contribute to the nation building, through the lens of our American education, upbringing and culture.
I spent three months in the ABC Saigon Bureau in 1971, coming not from the States but from Moscow. An election was in progress. Vietnam had some 30 newspapers, all but one complaining that the voting was rigged, quite a contrast with the press in Soviet Russia.
It was my relationship with a former partner that finally prompted me, in my 30s, to come out to my parents. And it was that relationship that finally led me to bring a man home to meet my parents. It turns out that I did not give my mom and dad enough credit.
Andrew Lam's Birds of Paradise Lost captures the universal immigrant experience -- where versions of paradise are both lost and gained -- through the very particular experience of the refugees who fled Vietnam during the Fall of Saigon in 1975.