Saturday, January 31, 2009

Vietnamese New Year in New Orleans East

New Orleans has a large Vietnamese population. This weekend, Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church held a huge festival to celebrate Vietnamese New Year or Tet or Xuan. Read more in this article from the Times Picayune.

The festival was very, very fun. The food was good; I had ginger-beef kabobs and a plantain fritter. And of course there were spring rolls, rice noodles, even oysters. We were happy to find the prices of everything were very low. There was a dragon dance with fireworks; I apologize that my pictures aren't better because the costumes were amazing. (Think of my photographs as artistic rather than blurry!) There was also a pop singer, whose name I didn't learn. She was very good, very energetic, singing in Vietnamese and English. There were lots of children running around, spraying each other with silly string and playing games. I can't wait for next year!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama's Inauguration

Here's what it means to me: I graduated high school in 2000, the year George Bush was elected. Florida being at the crux of the mistake doesn't make me feel better. But it was 9-11-2001 that really sent a dark cloud over all of us. It wasn't a good time for feeling hopeful about the future.; being in college, thinking constantly about my own future and how in this new world of terror, there wasn't really a place for me.

Part what made the Bush years so unique was the use of patriotism as a weapon, the bending of language to challenge even the notion of truth, numerous predictions in the book 1984 coming true- not in a communist country, but in our own! In 2003, we invaded Iraq and I graudated from college. Not milestones I would have wanted linked together.

I went to Mozambique with the Peace Corps, where I was constantly asked about Bush, about Iraq, called "filha de Bush", engaged by Mozambicans and Europeans abroad about the 2004 election. "What is wrong with your country? How could you have elected him again?"

I was so angry. Bush took from us the right to be proudly American. He made patriotism something for war advocates and torturers. He had no right to choose the immoral path he took us on.

I envy those graduating now. Even with the economic crisis, they have more to hope for than I could have in 2000 or 2003. While the war on terror abroad may not be quite over, our new government will not be relying on terror to get what it wants out of the American people, and I that's all I need right now. But I think there's more yet to come; Guantanamo is already winding down, maybe Iraq is next. Peace Corps volunteers going to Africa now will be called "filhos de Obama" and asked "How could your country have elected him? Tell us that wonderful story..."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Audubon Zoo

For information about the Audubon Zoo, tickets and schedules, visit their official site.