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Documentary “Daughter from Danang”

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“Here, my daughter is, thinking all I want is money” (I want to connect this to the end by showing how Heidi experienced CS and use the language barrier as an example).

“Daughter from Danang” is a documentary about Mai Thi Heip. She was taken from her mother at age 7 during the Vietnam War’s “operation Baby Lift”. She was adopted by an American family in Tennessee and became 101% Americanized, and given the name Heidi Bub. 22 years later she decides to go to Vietnam to reunite with her birth mother and feel the love she didn’t have growing up. This documentary delivers a very non cliché ending no one expects. “Daughter from Danang” takes you through to a powerful, culturally shocking ending.

Mai Thi Heip goes through her first culture shock at the age of seven. She is brought to a more than confusing world where she is told to forget her past and who she is, when in life that’s really all that matters, and all that is really known especially at such a young age. Fully Americanized Heidi finds herself getting ready to go to Vietnam to reunite with her mother, and to unexpectedly be hit full force with cultural shock once again.

Many people have never even heard of cultural shock until after they have experienced it. Definitively cultural shock is the anxiety and feelings such as confusion, surprise, and disorientation someone experiences. This is caused by coming in contact with a completely different social environment.

Cultural shock can be an extremely, emotionally overwhelming, causing people to be home sick, overly concerned about hygiene, feeling the new place is dirty, and people become easily irritated. Irritation comes from things that used to be minor such as going to the bank, using the phone, or asking for directions, to things that become very difficult. Other symptoms associated with cultural shock are loss of identity, lack of confidence, or feeling of inadequacy.

There are actually multiple stages pertaining to culture shock. The first stage is known as the “honeymoon stage”. Most people at first are fascinated with the new surroundings. This is partly due to the fact that most people, upon visiting a country stay at hotels, and speak to people who are bilingual, kind to foreigners, and tell the tourists where the best shows are. The tourists don’t normally see the true culture outside the commercial areas. However people who do experience the actual culture, such as family visits, study abroad programs, exchange programs, or someone moving, experience culture shock first hand. Unfortunately, this honeymoon phase often comes to an end fairly soon. Frustration starts to build when people have to deal with transportation problems like buses that don’t come on time, shopping problems like not being able to ‘t buy their favorite foods, and communication problems due to the language barrier. It may start to seem like people no longer care about your problems.

This may lead to the second stage of culture shock, known as the “rejection stage.” You may begin to feel aggressive and start to complain about the new environment. It is known as the “rejection” phase because it is at this point that people start to reject the new place. They complain about the foreign ways and notice only the bad things that bother them. At this stage the foreigner either gets stronger and stays, or gets weaker and goes home. (Can I talk about her emotional breakdown or does it give away too much, what exactly is saying to much-). (I kind of shift from 3rd person to using the word you, because I didn’t know which was better so I tried both)

(At the end of each paragraph, tie in how relates to documentary in some way.)

The third stage is regression. The word “regression” means moving backward, not in the sense of a child regression but rather in the sense of only associating with what you are comfortable with. And in this phase of culture shock, you spend much of your time speaking your own language, constantly calling back home, and eating food from home.

The last two stages tie in an odd sort of way. They are “acceptance”, and “reverse cultural shock”. Acceptance stage is exactly what the word means, you accept the change. You realize there are good, bad, and different things about the new place but it is now tolerable, the language is becoming a little more understandable, and the everyday customs aren’t so alien like. Reverse culture shock oddly enough comes right after you have accepted the change, and return home (if you in fact were just visiting) and now that you have changed your ways after a grueling process you have to change back and it can be just as awkward.

Throughout the documentary you can clearly see some of the stages that Heidi goes through. What was evident throughout the movie was that Heidi obviously had no preparation for culture shock, and went into Vietnam completely naíve. I believe culture shock is like getting sick. You can prepare for it, you show symptoms of it, and there is a cure to it. But for most people if no effort is put into the curing only worse comes from it.

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