Parents are their children’s first heroes but suddenly especially teenagers, they experience many strong and changing emotions, one of which is an embarrassment of their parents.
The majority of children with immigrant parents reach a point in their lives where they believe they do not belong in their society. They are distinct not only because of their physical appearance, but also because of people’s constant taunting, media representation, and sometimes even the educational curriculum, saying that they are different.
Kevin Truong felt that awkwardness toward his mother. Living in a predominantly white city, he believed that his mom was odd. His mother spoke English with a heavy Vietnamese accent, she also always keeps the house unclean and never attends any teacher-parent conferences.
“I ran away from her, not physically, but emotionally, because she represented everything I didn’t want to be.” Kevin shared with the AHN community.
Kevin didn’t realize how shallow-minded he was until he entered adulthood. His mother spoke with an accent because she is bilingual. Their house was always a mess and she never went to parent-teacher conferences because she was working two jobs.
“As someone who wasn’t married, she carried the burden of supporting three children alone. This woman who I thought was so weak was actually superhuman,” he added.
Kevin’s mother fled Vietnam during the war in a wooden fishing boat and spent 11 days drifting in the sea along with his two older sisters, all while being pregnant with him. Kevin was born in a refugee camp in Malaysia, and they eventually immigrated to the United States in search of a better life.
Kevin was motivated by his 70-year-old mother’s brave acts to make his first full documentary film about her life, “Mai American,” following his mother’s family name. The documentary was filmed over the course of 10 years, Tot Mai tackles her past traumas and embarks on an emotional healing journey that takes her back to Vietnam, a country she hadn’t been to in over 30 years.
“This story is for my mom and all immigrant moms because we all know these stories won’t get told unless we tell them ourselves,” Kevin said.
The film, according to Kevin, is also for the millions of immigrant children out there who feel the same shame and embarrassment about their mothers. “I want to show them that our moms are superhuman. Their differences don’t make them weak, but divine,” he said.
To learn more and support the film contact: firstname.lastname@example.org