In order to achieve the future happiness, I studied hard, worked hard even I left my potential career in Vietnam and flew a half of the earth to United State to chase so-called “ the American dream” which I believed to possibly fulfill my happiness. Until now, I can assert that I’m still on the right way to achieve my life’s purpose. And through the sociology course, I have a chance to closely see my way and to understand deeply reasons and motivations for me to think and to act such a way. My life is divided into 2 periods: one in Vietnam and one in United States; however, I find that as any individual in any society, I’m in the battle to fight against the existing inequalities in social class, gender and minority.
The first thing I learned from my background was that education will be an efficient “equalizer” for social class. My opinion is completely contrast to the Conflict theory which sees the purpose of education as maintaining social inequality and preserving the power of those who dominate society (Tischler, 2014, p. 351). I was born in a tiny town in the small province of central region of Vietnam. I grew up in the period after 12 years when the Vietnam War against America ended. After more than a decade completely closed with the outside, Vietnamese government started to open the free-market and welcome FDI to invest into Vietnam, in other words “adopting some elements of capitalism while retaining most of its authoritarianism” (Vuving, 2013, p.
25). This helped to open many opportunities for urbanization and increasing job chances. However, where I lived was just a small town in the central region of Vietnam, the change seemed to come late. Differ to other big cities, the economy of my province still depended on the state-own organizations. My parents never graduated from university but joining some college.
They worked as the normal white-collar workers in the state-own companies. My mom was a nurse for a public hospital, meanwhile my father was a driver for marble export company. As Tischler’s definition in Introduction to Sociology, my family could be categorized as a middle-middle class which possibly “shares many characteristics with the upper-middle class, but its members have not been able to achieve the same kind of lifestyle because of economic or educational shortcomings” (p. 182). This means that compare with my classmates in richer families, I didn’t have the luxury clothes and hardly had a chance to eat at the restaurants like them.
The only thing I was the same with them was the education. However, very few of the rich in my society were regarded as the upper middle class in the real meaning: both having a lot of money and high education, because most of them didn’t have bachelor degree or even high-school diploma. In spited of limited economic, my parents tried to work hard to afford the best education for me. I went to the best school and taught by the best teachers in my province. I was thankful for my parents’ great sacrifice and I didn’t want to disappoint them.
Therefore, in past twelve years from primary school to high school, I always tried my best to accomplish the best scores in class. However, as a child, I was sometimes sad and wondered why I couldn’t have such a good condition as my friend’s family. Luckily, I had a great mother who always encouraged me that my family may be not as rich as them, however, I could change my life by studying hard, later on getting a better job and having a better conditions like them. And my Mom was correct. Finally, after high school graduation, I got admission into a good university in a big city.
I’m the first person in my family graduated from university with good GPA and qualified for a good job in multi-national companies where I had a chance to socialize with the upper class. Experience in professional working environment, I have opportunities to open my eyes to the outside world and understand how the upper class lived and worked. In addition, the income from the job as a corporate financial analysis can help me afford an upper-middle class life. It can be said that thanks to the parent’s sacrifice for the good education, I have a chance to upgrade my family social class from middle-middle class to upper-middle class.
As Bill Gates says: “If you born poor it’s not your mistake, but if you die poor it’s your mistake. In spited of having better life, I never forget my last status as well as never turn back to the people from the lower class. In contrast, from my experience, I think that education is really important for society’s development, especially in Vietnam where the gap of rich and poverty is so far, education will be an efficient “equalizer” for social class. For gender inequality, I think that together with the functionalist viewpoint of society, I’m another barrier for myself to get the equality role compared with man. Vietnam is a country being “strong preference for male children” (Tischler, 2014, p.
18). I was born as the girl – the undesired child in such a traditional Asian family. After me, my mom continued to bear the second daughter – my younger sister. Because my dad had two daughters and had no son, my grandmother didn’t like my father. The worse was that my relatives didn’t favor my family because my parents hadn’t have the same economic condition as them. I grew up with less love and helping from grandmother and relatives; however, I learned from my Mom how to live independently.
When I grew up, my society has changed significantly. Although people still think that male should be the head household, the role of female in my time is more respected than my mom’s generation. However, in the working place, I often question myself that why we have too few women leaders. Through this course, I can understand that the less advantages of women’s role can be explained by the liberal feminism theory which noted that “Gender inequality results from past traditions that pose barriers to women’s advancement. It emphasizes individual rights and equal opportunity as the basis for social justice and reform. ” (Crossman).
The theory can be proved clearly by Gender-role socialization. According to Erickson, teenager boys in generally are expected to be equipped strong willingness and education to get an higher occupation meanwhile girls are encouraged to focus on practicing a good manner as to attract the life mates (Tischler , 2014, p. 269). I used to be taught the same thing by my father.
Our Vietnamese society was hugely impacted by Confucius of China’s dynasty who ruled on the roles of each person in the society in general and members in the family in particular. For example, in a family, the male is ruled as the head of household who has the most powerful and gives the final decision. Meanwhile, the female has to do all the housework and take care of children and ill persons (Geri-Ann, 2010, p. 5). Because of these defined roles, the woman who is regarded to have the good virtue shouldn’t need have a high education, but must have conform “three obedience and four virtues” (Tischler, 2014, p.
260). As an individual in this society, I can’t avoid this society assignment. My father encouraged me just get a bachelor of business to get easy job then get married, have children and to become subordinate to my future husband. Day by day, I gradually persuaded myself that my father’s saying is true and I should obey him if I was a good child. I chose to learn the four years business program instead of six years medical program.
My father made me believe that a woman couldn’t have a happy marriage if she gets higher education than her husband because a man never wants his wife better than him. As the result, I finished the 4 years business program and prepared to get married at the age of 27. However, one opportunity opened which changed my life forever – my family migrant to the United States. In a new country, I started my life with two bare hands, however this country makes me believe that there’re still many chances opening for such a women like me. Here, women are more respected by men.
They are no longer subordinate to the men but has the fair role with men. I was really impressed and highly appreciated when the first time I was opened the door by a man. I was never treated as the same way by Vietnamese men. All of these made me believe that it’s never too late for me to start again.
Finally I recognized that my father’s saying was untrue. I shouldn’t limit my capability just because my father said so. My father just had the same view point of the functionalists. However, in America, I met another trouble with my ethnic inequality.
Before coming to America, I used to believe that United State really was heaven. And I decided to leave my career to find “American dream”. Hauhart defined “American dream” was that “Coupled with the ideal that you have the freedom to work hard and accomplish what you want in your life, it’s about finding happiness and solace in your present lifestyle” (pp. 213-214).
It can’t be denied that this definition is untrue. No matter of any society, everyone must work hard to overcome the poverty. However, I couldn’t imagine that the troubles I had to meet here are out of my expectation. Two biggest barriers for me to adapt to the new community are culture and language. I took a great effort to adapt with the culture shock here. In addition, because I’m a Vietnamese, my English isn’t proficiency enough to get the same job as financial analysis as I used to work in Vietnam.
Therefore, in order to sustain for new life, I had to work manual jobs like a busser in a pizza restaurant This was really big shock for me. I used to work hard to change my social status from middle-middle class to upper-middle class in Vietnam. But here, in the new country, my social status fell down two levels to lower middle class or even lower class. Obviously, because of lack of English proficiency, I belong to the minority group in the new society. Until now, I haven’t yet found any proof for ethnic discrimination in my working environment.
However, I gradually learn to accept the reality that I’m in minority group of this country, and the only way I change my present status is that I must go to school again. I must master my English then get bachelor degree to improve my standard of living and my social class. In conclusion, as Bill Gate’s saying: “Life is not fair, get used to it”. I think that Bill Gates’s thinking is correct. Now, our society remains many inequality in race, gender, social class These inequalities will last long until the human being still exist in the earth.
However, I still believe in life that if we never give up and we try to work hard enough, we can change our own life. And I want together with my society, especially the people suffering the same situation with me go on having strong willingness to fight for the better life, because “to live is to fight”.
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