There is a saying in this country that has come to have an influence on me during my time here. I like to translate it like this: “When you drink water, remember the source.” It’s easy to pass if off when you first hear it, or regard it as inconsequential, or something cutely trivial even. It’s easy to disregard it when you’re young and rebellious and want everyone that you can survive on your own. It’s something that most Americans, at least the way I see it, don’t think about. “When you drink water, remember the source.” What is this source? Does it symbolize something? If so, what? Is this a reminder not to pollute? I think that it has a profound meaning: remember what sustains you, remember where you came from, remember your roots. Actually, the Vietnamese is only four words: “Drink water, remember source.” It’s an imperative, an order, something that you must do. As you live your life, remember your family, remember your ancestors, remember your homeland. The meaning sends electricity through me when I say it. If there is one valuable thing that I’ll be taking away from this culture, it will be the things associated with this phrase. It’s unspoken most of the time here; I’ve never heard people here talk about it unless I’ve brought it up. However, for most people here, it seems to encompass most aspects of their lives.

The values that I’ve been brought up on and known for most of my life in North America are completely different. Things like rebellion, expression, roaming, etc. seem to have a lot of value placed on them. Friends from college have scattered throughout America and the world like fallout from a bomb, including me. I’ve enjoyed reading On the Road numerous times. However, now I’ve had some time here, and I am remembering the source of my life: my family, and Ohio.


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