This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.

Contribute Thoughts | Search Serendip for Other Papers | Serendip Home Page

English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

An Extended Conversation

Ngoc Tran

Imagine a scene during one of these coming up holidays where every member of my extended gathered at my third uncle's house. We have just finished dinning and making minor conversations with one another. We are moving ourselves back to the living room where comfortable seats await. I can already see that it will take us a while to gather all in this small intimate living room. Nevertheless, once we are all present, I believe one of my close relatives will come up with a joke and that would bring us to relaxation. Only in this calming and less culture-bound atmosphere would I begin my effort to extend an open dialogue on this particular topic of sex.
One of the great challenges in this curriculum is figuring out a place, a time, an atmosphere fit enough to mention the word sex without criticism and condemnation. While it is important for me to bring up the discussion, it is even more important whether they are willing and are comfortable enough to participate, to share their feelings and thoughts. When a classroom takes form of a small family living room, the students are no longer just students—they are human being with diverse and unique experiences, values, and beliefs. Rather than considering my extended family as students, I consider them as spectators. My goal for this curriculum is simply to open dialogues among these spectators.
The interchange can begin with a true and typical story of a girl who "said she was worried she may be pregnant because her boyfriend kissed her on the cheek. She heard that story from her mother and her grandmother" (Viet Nam News, July 31st, 1999, p. 5). Questioning her naivety will initiate responses from only a few but these few reactions will be a good lead way to a movie (Girls Like US). The movie will provide time for further reflection on the topic. In a way, this presentation will force the viewers lightly into surveying the reality.
With the talkative nature of this group, I can foresee how it is not difficult to receive general comment after the film ended. It will be difficult, however, to direct the discussion with a deeper, and a more meaningful, literal language. To reach this state of comfort and ease, I believe we will need more than one gathering and perhaps that can happen throughout the somewhat long break during the holiday. Each of these discussions may last from one to two hours but it is difficult to estimate or predict the degree of sensitivity that may be displayed with these individuals because we have never really touched upon the topic.
I will imagine that I have the ability to persuade them to gather again, my next agenda will be distributing excerpts and sharing their thoughts in writing. Making this sharing time both personal and informal, I would collect all their writings, put it in a basket, and then randomly select from the basket for discussion. Excerpts are selected from texts that have to do with Vietnamese, Vietnamese-American, and American perspectives, cultures, values, and beliefs about sex. We would focus on what and why of the question. The first part of the discussion will have more to do with theories and ideals while the second part, which will place at a different session, will have to do with the reality—exploring and acknowledging what is out there in the media, on the net, and in education. For adults/older adults, I would like to gather their response to what their children and grandchildren are learning about sex. For the younger members, I would like to gather how they feel about their education about sex and what their response to their parents and grandparents' opinions and beliefs about their sex education.
It may not have been apparent, but our conversation will take place both in English and in Vietnamese. We will come to an understanding of a set of technical terms during discussion for both set of languages. There will be a time where individuals will get to be in their comfort zone. In other words, they will be with members who either feel more comfortable in either English or Vietnamese. Working with their group, they will come up with a short lesson on terms and stereotypes of their group to introduce to the other group. We are not teaching each other but rather we exchange and learn from one another. With this attitude, we will be able to slip through the cultural barriers at a better ease.
The more we can be open about our attitude, our beliefs, our values, and ourselves the more we get out of this curriculum. I am uncertain of how my extended family will receive this idea of having an extended conversation about sex, but I do hope that at the end of this short-lived effort, we can come to acknowledge ourselves as sexual being without fear of guilt, shame, and condemnation. Indeed, in silence, we are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews. In dialogues, we are simply human being.

| Forums | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip

© by Serendip 1994- - Last Modified: Wednesday, 02-May-2018 10:51:32 CDT