Posted by: Staff | 01.29.2008

College Essay II: Minh – “Driven by Love”


Every Saturday morning, I wake up in a dream. My day begins at 6 AM, when my mother begrudgingly wakes me up. Once I gain consciousness, she asks, “Where is your life going?” in that disappointed tone only mothers can give. I head to the bathroom and strip down. I stare into the mirror. I try to figure out what I am, and what my worth to society is. I then wonder the same thing: where is my life going? The only answer I have to that question is a shrug from my reflection. I run to the car after my shower. I then take an hour car ride and an hour long train ride. Once I reach my station, I clench my scarf amidst the brisk breeze. After five blocks, two flights of stairs, and three knocks on the door, my odyssey of nuisance finally comes to an end when that door opens. On the other side is a red-headed girl with a look of longing in her eyes. She immediately wraps her arms around me. In her embrace, all my stress, all my fatigue, and all my cold melts away. In that instant, I feel whole.

In my family’s native tongue, the word for “to love” is “yêu.” This word is pronounced like the English “ew,” and that is how my parents regarded my ventures into this emotion. My family has long followed the traditions of filial piety. As a Vietnamese child, my role was to reserve my love for my parents and elder siblings. However, these traditions have long contradicted my own feelings. Outside my home, I have searched for such warmth in the people around me. I have helped children fold paperclips into helicopters in the Museum of Science, aided students of the Haley Elementary School with their multiplication, and hugged my loved ones during every hello and goodbye. My family has taught me what love is, and I try to share that with everyone.

My family has always been less affectionate compared to other families. I have not heard the words “I love you” within my family for years. Instead, I receive daily outbursts of worrying, scolding, and nagging. This, however, is their love for me. They yell at me often, but through that, I hear concern and care. They have constantly pushed me to achieve my full potential. What is most important is that they love me deeper than three overused words can express.
They are motivated by something that I have yet to understand. In 1979, my parents fled Vietnam and the Communist regime for the sake of their children’s freedom. The dangers and consequences of their escape can be summed by a proverb that my parents told their parents before bidding them farewell: “Either I will care for the fishes (in death), you will care for me (in jail), or I will care for you when I prosper in America.” Despite the almost certain risk of drowning, capture, and imprisonment, they have reached the land of opportunity so that their children may live a better life than they could. My parents are my inspiration; I push forward to make their grief worth while.

It is the warmth in people that keep me moving. It is the love in our lives that let us feel whole. In my life, I am lucky enough to have my parents, my brothers, my sisters, and my friends. They all have had a profound effect on who I have become today. They have taught me, they have kissed me, and they have ostracized me. Yet, despite the many conflicts and trials, I am ever grateful to everyone in my life for showing me who I am. I finally have an answer to the question that I ask myself each morning. Though there is no clear destination as to where my life is going, I know how I will get there. I am a person driven by my heart. I will do anything to maintain the love I share with those close to me. Whether it means enduring my mother’s persistent opinions, or braving a cumbersome trek to spend time with a friend, I will always do my best for love.



  1. Minh~
    I love you, you are amazing.
    I will miss you so much this year!

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