I have been living in Lincoln for four years but I grew up in Omaha. I am a first generation Vietnamese immigrant. My parents came here in 1980, a little bit after the war ended. I think my aunts came first and then my parents with my brother. Then my sister and I were born here in Nebraska. We still speak Vietnamese a lot. The difficult part is that I didn’t learn it academically.
It was almost instinctive, and yet, I never learned how to read and write. I am illiterate, I can’t understand highlevel Vietnamese; I can only understand my parents. There is actually a Buddhist temple here that a lot of Vietnamese people go to. I get a little shy going there because my Vietnamese is terrible. Lincoln has one of the largest communities of Vietnamese in the state. My mom works at a tortilla plant, and a whole bunch of Vietnamese people work there.
I am Brazilian, but I grew up in Lincoln. My mom came to America about 25 years ago. I grew up with my mom trying to keep Portuguese in the household. I see videos of me speaking Portuguese to my mom really well when I was really young. But I got to school, became a part of the [American] culture, and made friends in English. It was so hard for me to keep my Portuguese up. I go back to Brazil about once a year to see family, and by the end of the trip, I have a good grasp of the language again. It becomes easy for me to follow along, read and write. My children’s books when I was little were all in Portuguese. I have a soft spot for it, and I feel like it is comforting to hear it. We grew up in a very Brazilian household in terms of the music we listened to, the art I saw and the food that we ate. It is so important to my mom. It makes me feel unique to have that part of culture.