Mindfulness Mondays 18: Operation Babylift
September 28, 2009 by dr. lam
I had the wonderful opportunity to screen and to sponsor a remarkable film by my dear friend, Tammy Nguyen Lee, this past Friday night. Her debut project, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, chronicles the true tale of thousands of Vietnamese orphans who for a brief glimmer in time when Saigon fell in 1975 were rescued via cargo airlift to a new home in the United States. Besides being an engrossing historical document, it was also a riveting story that spoke to me as an Asian-American but I believe moved the entire audience more broadly, as I witnessed through their frequent tears and final applause.
The story arc follows these children into adulthood as they settle into a foreign land, through struggles with their cultural, genetic, and personal identity and through their celebration and breakthroughs in their newfound life. Coming to the United States at the tender age of 3 myself from my native Hong Kong, I also felt a disruptive uprooting and cultural shock. I could relate to their plight but in a way to their liberation as well. During the question and answer section following the screening, one of the Vietnamese adoptees (as they call themselves now), Jared Rehberg, recounted the surreal nature of his recent return to his native Vietnam and to a land that he knew only as an infant. I could relate to his feelings despite undergoing a far gentler transplantation from my birth soil.
The thoughts that enter my mind this week are for all of us to focus on what cultural ties bind us as human beings rather than as Hispanic, Asian, African, etc., and how we can foster those universal ties rather than encouraging alienation and separation. When we are tempted to resort to stereotypical thoughts and gender bias, we should retreat back to seeing the person in front of us simply as a member of our communal humanity. Free ourselves from prejudicial thoughts that may have originated from our childhood or even adulthood. For those who have the great opportunity to catch Operation Babylift at a film festival near you (check out their website), don’t miss that chance! Your life will be profoundly shaken for the better.
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