USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘American Dream’
Folk speech
Proverbs

Having a successful child is a blessing

Informant: “In Vietnamese culture, there’s this very popular saying which is

‘Con hơn cha là nhà có phúc’

which means, if the child is…This is very loosely translated, but ‘if the child is better than the father, then the house is blessed’. So ‘better’ in terms of not that the father is a bad person, but that the father worked hard enough to raise a child that was more successful than him. So

‘if the child is more successful than the father, then the house is blessed,’

which means good family, good parenting, and good lineage. So in Vietnamese culture, or especially Vietnamese immigrants who came to America after the war, a lot of the children of these immigrants were succeeding when their parents didn’t really have anything, like, a lot of these kids of immigrants were going to college and being the first ones in their families to go to college and get a PhD or become a doctor or something. And this is something where if the parents would be talking to each other, and I guess bragging about their kids, they would say ‘oh, my son is successful now, more than my parents and more than us,’ and that was supposed to be a huge blessing.”

Informant is a student at the University of Southern California. Her parents immigrated to the United States from Vietnam after the Vietnam war. She was born in the United States, and was raised bilingually by her parents (though she says that Vietnamese “Is definitely [her] primary language at home”). Most of her knowledge of Vietnamese culture comes from her upbringing in he Vietnamese family in an area where a lot of immigrants from Vietnam settled. Additionally, when she was growing up, she learned a lot about her Vietnamese heritage through “Temple School” which she described as “Like Christian Boy Scouts, except for Vietnamese Buddhists”.

Collector Analysis: This particular proverb does an excellent job of showing the family-centric nature of Vietnamese culture. This is also a very good depiction of the American Dream, the idea that you can come to America with nothing, and be successful enough through your own hard work to give your children a better upbringing than you yourself may have had.

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