i. throw away the three boxes of
incense sticks that burn your eyes
when lit. When your father asks
you where they went,
they’re a firehazard.
ii. before you board the bus, rush
to the bathroom. dump out the
mi sao your mother made
repack with lunchables and fruit roll-
ups. hide your wooden chopsticks.
iii. rip the buddha necklace off
your chest. with the imprint of the fat
man digging into your left palm, raise
your right hand and shout, “I’M NOT
A BUDDHIST. my mother was.” to the peers
think all Asians are Buddhists and
all Buddhists are Asian.
iv. When they ask you why ‘Vy’
rhymes with ‘bee’ and not ‘my’,
tell them that Vietnamese and
English are two different
languages. But remember to
apologise for the inconvenience.
Look forward to this question for
the rest of your life.
v. If a substitute asks, “Sorry
if I pronounce this
wrong but is Vy [rhyme with
eye] here?” Do not duck
beneath your desk. Do not
correct them. Tighten your lips
into a smile, look them in the
eye and raise your hand,
vi. avoid going shopping with
your parents, they will ask you to
bargain with the cashier on
how the lettuce ball s a bit too
small to cost three dollars, and
that they should take off a
dollar. when you refuse, they will
try to communicate in broken
this is your cue to wait out front.
vii. when graduation day comes
and your entire family wants to
say no. it is not important.
it is important. but your
grandmother will tell everyone that
you are the first, to step foot
into college. avoid
this embarrasssment by telling them
graduation is cancelled.
viii. instead of taking pictures with
your “fresh off the boat” family,
borrow Kelly Tran’s, whose
parents are hip and cool and let
her speak English
ix. are you Chinese?
x. are you Japanese?
xi. are you Korean?
xii. Are you Asian?
xiii. what kind of Asian are you?
xiv. You are not Vietnamese-
American. there is nothing
American about you except your
xv. make sure you choose the
furthest college away from home,
where your mother won’t be able
to send you white rice and
kimchi, among other foods that
your white roommate can’t pronounce.
xvi. no matter where you go,
someone will ask you to “say
something in your language”
they don’t know what language
you speak, two,
they don’t know how to
pronounce it. they just
assume you speak one
xvii. when your mother calls
while you have company over
"con co nho me khong?", pretend
you don’t understand. take a
glance at the people around you
and firmly reply, “mom i’m
busy. i’ll call you later.” lace it
with enough conviction to fool
wandering ears but with less
compassion so that your mother
knows not to stay up late past three waiting.
xviii. tan your skin, bleach your
hair, forget your native tongue.
remember the boys who leer,
grabbing their crotch, whispering in
your ear, “i’ve got yellow fever,
can you cure me?”
xix. stand in front of the mirror.
open youtube and search, “how
to get rid of an Asian accent”
because no matter how western
you look, your mouth will speak
"duh girl likes pissa" instead of
"the girl likes pizza".
**. schedule a plastic surgery
appointment, fix your nose, jaw,
and monolid eyes. people will
try to stop you, “you are perfect
the way you are! there is no one you-
er than you!” laugh at them.
inform them, “the looks of me is
not what society want people to be.”
xxi. pick up the phone. dial
home. hang up. do this five
times. after the fifth, you will
have convinced yourself that you
don’t miss them. it is just the
xxii. before you sign up for this
read the fine print. in addition to
losing your identity, you will lose
yourself. becoming a child of
corrporate America is as easy as it
seems. you just have to let go of