Diversity Equality Inclusion - October 16, 2020
by Vy Tran
As I ponder on the significance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which was on Monday, October 12, I am reminded of beauty and resilience.
In case you’re not familiar with this special day, according to the Smithsonian Institute, “Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognizes that Native people are the first inhabitants of the Americas, including the lands that later became the United States of America. And it urges Americans to rethink history.”
There is so much beauty in the simplicity of life. I am inspired by the way American Indians live, using the land and giving back to the land. They are mindful of the land and thankful for what the land gives them.
This draws on parallels of my first eight years of life. I was born and raised in Vietnam. I grew up on a farm and loved it. Running around barefoot, chasing chickens and ducks was my idea of fun. What we grew and caught was what we ate. We rarely purchased anything from the market.
What if, once a while, you went outside? Just stand there and feel the breeze on your face. Feel the sunshine on your smile. Be reminded that this Mother Earth is extremely beautiful, and we should enjoy it with appreciation.
My adopted mother is a quarter American Indian, a member of the Blackfoot Tribe. When I started doing art, I was drawn to dreamcatchers, which is a craft based on “protective charms” that are traditions in some Native peoples. To recognize Indigenous People’s Day, I hosted a display of dreamcatchers that I’ve made, and I talked about their significance.
My interpretation of the dreamcatcher is very colorful and vibrant, because I believe that’s how this world is—how this life is. I believe we all have to add flavors, spices and colors to our own life. And in doing that, maybe we can pass it on to others. Pass on the enthusiasm of life. Pass on the joy and beauty of life.
The Native peoples of the Americas have endured many hardships and continue to endure them today. But I believe they still have this gentleness to their souls. They still have love for this world.
Most days, I still feel like a foreigner in this country, although I’ve lived here for more than 28 years. Some days I still struggle to know where I belong. But most days, I’m reminded that I belong in this circle of love and care. Of appreciation and thoughtfulness. Life is what we make of it, right? So for my life, I make it colorful. I make it full of hearts and humbleness. I make it a place where I care for others with grace and gentleness.
Every week, at the table where Goodwin Living employees go through health screening as we arrive at work (at both Goodwin House Alexandria and Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads, there are cards with inspirational quotes on them. I really loved the thought for this week: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” by Leonard Cohen.
I really love that. Because that’s how life is, to me. Life is full of cracks, because life is not perfect, nor is it meant to be perfect. The cracks in our life are the trials and tribulations that we go through. The cracks in our life are the times when we fall down, when life get really hard. But the light – the light is when we get back up. The light is when we fight and persevere through. The light is when we recognize that this life is hard, but we still live each day with joy and gratitude.
Here are resources for you as you seek to learn more about the Native peoples of the Americas:
Let the beauty of light shine through you by welcoming everyone without regard of race, origin or sexual orientation. Your light can brighten the way for others to follow.
Vy Tran is the Therapeutic Recreation Coordinator at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads. Vy is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, having worked with older adults for more than 14 years. Vy majored in Therapeutic Recreation at Longwood University and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Recreational Therapy. She has cared for residents of the Healthcare Center at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads for more than nine years. She collaborates with her team in Life Enrichment, helping with events and teaching Chair-Chi and Seated Chair Exercise classes in the Fitness Center. Vy also organizes volunteer opportunities for Healthcare Center residents and Independent (Residential) Living Residents, partnering with organizations such as Food for Others and Arlington Food Assistance Center. Vy’s passion is caring for others, bringing joy and pizzazz into their lives.
About the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) Committee: The Goodwin Living DEI Committee is a group of staff and residents who together serve a mission to educate, embrace and empower a workplace of diversity, equity and inclusion. Our vision is to seek open and honest communication and collaboration that will inform and celebrate the cultural, ethnic and sexual orientation of all members of our staff without bias.