Award-winning journalist and author Andrew Lam sang acapella as he read his essay “Singing in the Family” in one of the most memorable moments of the journalist’s April 29 presentation at PCC.
Lam sang the lyrics from Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” as well as lyrics from other songs because they are quoted in his essay. The essay deals with how Asians often do not communicate their emotions verbally but instead they find an outlet for their feelings in karaoke.
During the talk he discussed his experiences as Vietnamese-American immigrant and his ideas on culture.
“Culture should never be forced on a person,” Lam said. “A person must feel drawn to that culture, must feel that it is really a part of him [or her].”
The event was also sponsored by Lee’s Sandwiches, a well-known Vietnamese sandwich cafe, which provided food and beverages. Guests were able to taste the sandwiches and Vietnamese coffee that Lam describes in his essay “From Rice Fields to Microchips.” This essay uses Lee’s Sandwiches as an example of the growing Vietnamese community in the United States and the community’s success stories
Lam , honored with an award from the Society of Professional Journalist, was born in South Vietnam and immigrated with his family to the United States. His experiences growing up and the conflict of identities were the motivation for his winning collection of essays “East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres,” he said during the event. Lam pointed out that the title of his book East Eats West is a double entendre. “Both east and west are consuming each other,” he said.
He used the example of his own nephew. Lam and his older brother speak to the nephew in Vietnamese, but his nephew is used to everyone speaking to him in English. The fact his uncles speak to him in a different language puzzles him.
The Office of Student Affairs and the College Diversity Initiative along with English Instructor DootsdeemalachanokThongthiraj organized the event According to Thongthiraj, the event generated a favorable response. “At least 150 people attended Lam’s presentation, including faculty from divisions outside of English,” she said.
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