The Family – 3rd in a series of Those who inspire

Mr. Nguyen and his family arrived in the United States from Vietnam in 1988. After a long wait in a refugee camp, Mr. Nguyen, his wife and children were given visas to relocate in the United States. Mr. Nguyen had served in the South Vietnam Army and this permitted him and his immediate family to go to the United States. Other members of his extended family went to Canada and Australia where they joined family members who had immigrated earlier and were able to sponsor them.

The Nguyen family had been fishermen in Vietnam. Not likely to make enough money to support a family by fishing as they did in Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen and his family formed a gardening service. That business has lasted over thirty years.

In spite of the family being scattered over two continents, they were determined to be true to their culture and family traditions. Mr. Nguyen’s parents remained in Vietnam after all five sons and their families emigrated. The brothers worked hard to arrange visits to their ageing parents. When the parents passed away, the brothers pooled their resources and time to build a memorial to their parents in Vietnam.

Life has not been easy for the family. They are hard working and resourceful. Family members support each other. Living in Canada, Australia and the U.S. has given them a better life than they would have had in Vietnam. Their presence has enriched us as well.


“Over-tourism” or Opportunity?

If you have traveled outside the U.S. within the last five years, you may have realized that you need to develop some new travel skills. While this is particularly true of visits to more well-known places such as Paris, Vienna and New York (Yes – coming from California, I do consider New York a foreign country), those are not the only places where new skills can come in handy.

The skills? 1) Wait and stand and 2) Body Blocking 1A

I recently had the privilege of going on a fourteen-day tour of seven Baltic countries. The area has a long, rich, history and we thoroughly enjoyed the trip. There were three destinations where the new skills came in handy. We visited the Hermitage and the Summer Palace in St. Petersburg as well as the museum in Gdansk, Poland. This was my first experience with “over-tourism” on such a grand scale. We employed the “Wait and Stand” strategy as we waited for the long line at the entrance gate to snake its way through the entry and in to the building. Next, we employed “Body Blocking”.

I was reluctant to employ “Body Blocking” at first. After all, one should wait patiently, say excuse me, and above all take turns. But when I discovered that this strategy resulted in an elbow in my stomach and the inability to keep my feet under me, I reconsidered. My elbow came out, I stepped down even though someone else’s foot occupied the area, and I never said “excuse me”.

Although we toured these sites during national holidays in Poland and Russia, most of the people employing the ‘new skills’ were fellow tourists from countries all over the world.

The last few days, the press has been discussing “Over-tourism.” Plagued by tourists in Vienna who jump into the canals from the bridges and tourists who dress “inappropriately,” Vienna is considering levying a fine for such behavior. In an interview, an airline steward remarked that tourist seem to forget common courtesy when traveling. Another commentator blamed “Over-tourism” on the availability of “cheap flights.”

I don’t have a solution to this situation. It would be a great loss if people stopped traveling. Travel is an eye-opener. It can makes us more tolerant, more informed and better world citizens.

ST. Stephens in Riga, Latvia – it has been a Catholic church and is now a Lutheran Church.
Ruins at Visby, Sweden. Visby was part of the Hanseatic League, a powerful trade organization. When the Hanseatic League disintegrated, Visby lost its economic base. The Ruins remain because the town was too poor to rebuild. It is a rich source for understanding the past.