Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade October 2001

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Some of the most significant moments in my life were when I left Vietnam, entered high school, and fell in love. Each of these three events has had significant impact on me personally and developmentally, and in a way, each is a phase building up to my present persona. And yes, persona is the correct term because "life is but a play", and (at present and probably for the future) I am the entertainer, the comedian, the analyzer.

One would consider that perhaps reallocating oneself to another country would be the most difficult transition in one's childhood years. But really, to a three year old it wasn't all that harsh. Taking into consideration that I knew nothing and accepted life as it was, everything was relatively easy and stress free. Lacking the conditioning of Vietnamese society and culture, I quickly accepted and became accustomed to the "Australian" way of life.

It was cereal for breakfast and chips for lunch everyday. Only dinner was Asian. Culturally at home I was Vietnamese, but that was left at the doorstep every morning. It was Australian all the way at school. But of course school wasn't enough for my social conditioning. Television played a great part also, because it was through playschool, Sesame Street and the likes that I bettered my English and acquired my partially American-oriented accent. A Vietnamese kid growing up in Australia but having an American accent. That just goes to show the POWER of television. Hence, from those days forward, I knew nothing more of my background through personal experience and what I knew ceased to spark. As can be seen, this was a big change, geographically, socially, and mentally. If I would not have moved, things would have been very different indeed, and this change was in many ways, one for the better, economically, and for my family's safety.

High school was in itself quite a difficult change. Leaving the familiarity and security of primary school and entering the unknown void that is high school was indeed very daunting. Making new friends was nothing new, but it was the faint feeling of dejavous that sent shivers and jitters all over. The first day was like being lost in a theme park, buildings, people and landmarks being unfamiliar, looming overhead and menacingly provoking. It was like kindergarten all over again, being the smallest denominator in the system and expecting hordes of "bigger kids" standing and walking all over you. The connotations of being a 7th grader, depicted on the sinister idiot box, also didn't bring any comfort or console, for each day was spent in fear till about 1 term into the year. But such things were the base elements of that year, for with time, fears were swept away with familiarity and friendships. Year 7 was a big change because it meant leaving behind friends and positions of authority back in primary school, but it was positive in the sense of newfound friendships and accepting new challenges in life. Change is very much a good thing. It was through these experiences that allowed me to gain confidence in myself and develop all the qualities that constitute my boisterous personality today. (And aren't you glad for that?) From then on, my personality became constant as it is still today. I also matured somewhat too, but little evidence suggests that. Cartoons are still the rage and computer games still rock as far as I'm concerned. My perspective of the world though is more detailed and analytical and not anything like that of my parent's treasured fable: "you will do well in school, get very high marks, become a doctor and have lots of money". Instead it's more like, "damn I'm stuffed for school, and I'll get bad marks and become a part of society's lower class inferiors. Oh well, shit happens." There's a brief glimpse into the psyche of a supposedly pretentious, rebellious and analytical mind. Amusing isn't it? What is love? This is a question with many slants and views individually correct in their own respects. For me, it was a flame inside, a feeling, a drive, a desire that defied distance, logic, and time. It is an indescribable feeling that flourishes without fuel, like the delicate desert roses without water, and paints one's soul fiery red with passion like the crimson onset of sunrise. It is the realization of wholeness and fulfillment that one gets only with full and undivided devotion. And through that one finds one's peace"¦that in another's arms and in their heart and soul could one find comfort and release. Love is knowing that although distances shall do but divide, no distance could separate feelings inside. That, in my mind is love. I knew love once for 3 years, and with it came trials and difficulties and triumphs and pains. But no love is flawless, and problems only served to strengthen the heavenly ties. Through it all, I've become a better man, and no one really knows me except my girlfriend. But it wasn't meant to be, family problems unfolded and we had to leave. How have I changed? How has it affected me? I once sat in a shallow breeze of an autumn day, and slowly watched my love flutter away. Much in the same way, my childhood innocence had gone and dissipated away. I have changed much. Look to those who have loved and there you shall see me. You know me not, for I am not how I appear to be.

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