Vietnamese Sister Grateful for Study
by Vy Thu Tran, OP
|Sr. Vy Thu Tran, OP|
I remember our parents saying to us, “We did not have an opportunity to go to school, but we want you to have it. Even if we need to work harder or sell things we have from our home in order to get money for you to go to school, we will do it.” In my memory, our parents never refused whatever we needed for study. At night, my mom usually prayed and waited for me while I did my homework. My parents did not receive a good education but they highly valued education and always encouraged their children to learn. Through them, the seed of appreciating education was planted and became a part of us unconsciously. Once I started attending school, I just kept trying and put forth effort no matter whether I liked to study or not.
Time passed, and it became time for me to make a decision for my future. I decided to join the community of the Vietnamese Dominican Sisters. One of the four pillars of the Dominican Order is study. As a Dominican, I became a new learner. Everything was new: the rhythm of daily life, the people, the environment, the way of thinking and living. Now, I was learning not only about knowledge taught in the classrooms, but also about knowledge gained through observation outside the classrooms, in my daily life, with my Sisters, and in a new home. My second home has been so good to me, and I have learned so much from my religious Sisters, just as I have learned from my blood family. I am blessed, and I am very grateful to my community, in particular, to my Sisters who have played a very important part by helping me to build my Dominican identity.
Another educational/learning venture for me was coming to the United States for full time study. For over three years, I have lived in community with and been taught by the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters. Although I am older, I am still a new learner. As the Sisters’ daughter, granddaughter, and student, I have had a sweet time of learning with them and through them. Here, I have experienced joy—the joy of learning new ideas, the joy of experiencing Dominican spirituality and community life in a Western culture, and even the joy of realizing how awkward I have been in learning and using English. I have enjoyed learning with them and treasure each moment with them.
The Sinsinawa Sisters have given me the opportunity to attend Clarke University in Dubuque, IA, where I have started a new period in my academic journey. With the many kind and good people I have met at Clarke, what I have received is more than what I expected or imagined. I have studied a variety of subjects while also learning about American people and culture. It has been a wonderful, yet challenging experience.
For me, the gift of learning is not about pleasure, rather, it is about joy, a joy in knowing that I am loved and blessed, joy in gaining self-awareness, joy in understanding more about others, and joy in broadening my view of life. I realize that the most important lesson I have learned and will continue to learn is to love and to live in gratitude. Because of all that I have received from God and others, I am so grateful. I hope that what I have learned and continue to learn will be a good preparation for my mission in Vietnam in the future. My wish is that the beauty of the cultures and of the people whom I have experienced on two different sides of Pacific Ocean will be communicated to all those whom I encounter and in a small way lead to global community.