This section will explain the genre choices I made in the previous sections and give them deeper meaning.
The story begins with Ha talking about Vietnam being different than it used to be and an idea of impending doom for the city of Saigon. In this genre, I tried to emphasize the idea that change can happen quickly and unexpectedly. The city of Saigon was taken over in a matter of days, and Tet is the start of the New Year, which the switching from one year to another only requires fractions of a second. To emphasize that this type of quick change was not just something found in fiction, the first article I wrote was based on actual events covered by major news outlets in the 70's during the fall of Saigon.
I chose to write a symbolic recipe of Ha's journey to the U.S. from Vietnam for several reasons. First, food is a very important part of the novel. Throughout the whole novel, Ha goes into great detail about the food she eats, and one thing that it particularly noticeable is that the food changes and becomes more "American" as the story progresses. I tried to model this change brought on by immigration through my recipe. In my recipe, I take a mango (found in Vietnam) and turn it into a stew that is cooking in a melting pot (reference to the U.S.). The mango is especially important to the recipe as it is referenced many times in the story. The fruit represents how Ha has laid down roots in Saigon and is unwilling to leave. Her unwillingness to let go of the mangoes reflects her unwillingness to let go of her old culture.
One of the most emotional parts of the novel is when Ha and her family are stuck in American refugee camps because they cannot get a sponsor. The family of five is caught in some sort of limbo that makes the characters severely depressed. In the wanted poster, I focused on the idea that the family had been newly converted to Christianity. This was a major concept found in the book because it is essentially what got Ha and her family out of the camps. In the novel, Ha's mother hears a rumor that Christian refugees are more likely to get sponsored than non-Christians, so she converts her family and shortly after they get a sponsor. In the wanted poster I created, I also focused on the idea that the sponsor could be a family or a congregation. During my research, I found that it was fairly common for congregations to sponsor families, so I tried to emphasize that refugees stuck in camps are not picky about their sponsors. They are willing for their sponsors to be anyone and are even willing to give up their religions to get out of the camps.
I created this short therapy session between Ha and a therapist to emphasize Ha's depression and show that depression is not uncommon in refugee children even though some are young like Ha (who is only 10). The examples of the bullying I used were from the book. I chose those examples and this genre because I think that those things are the best way to show the hardships that change causes on the emotional state. When Ha moved to Alabama, she wasn't just "changing scenery," her whole life was changing into something completely foreign to her. She had to learn a new language and learn a new culture and make brand new friends. All of these things would create an immense amount of stress on a 10 year old like Ha, and I tried to show that with this genre. Lastly, I chose to incorporate two research articles in this section because a lot of the research I found about refugee children centered on psychological well-being, which was the purpose of this genre.
Letter to Santa
I included this genre for several reasons. First, I wanted to show that Ha was slowly changing. By participating in a Christmas tradition, she has slowly started to adapt to a new culture. I also picked this genre because I was trying to express Ha's wants and desires and how change is at the core of these things. For example, Ha wouldn't want for people to stop bullying her or for a mango tree if she still lived in Vietnam. Along with this, the idea that Ha's mother could send and receive letters from the northern part of Vietnam was only possible because of the change Ha's family had undergone and the fall of Saigon. I also included this piece because it allowed me to emphasize Ha's voice and remind my audience that Ha is still a child. While she has been through an immense amount, Ha is still only ten years old, and her story shows that change is everywhere and affects everyone.