A Calmness Within

By Thuy Do

To learn and understand deeply about my heritage roots over the years has been healing and humbling. I went through many growing pains to become more accepting of my identity as a Vietnamese American. Cultivating these roots in an integrative way has often been a tough balancing act. Through the stress and uncertainties, however, I found some fluidity to weave the two worlds into something more unique and fitting. From there, I found my intention to uplift others with a similar mindset and to be of support however I can. In honor of my parents’ hard work and their perseverance, I learned to listen and trust in myself to blend both the Vietnamese and American cultures in my work for a better quality of life, of acceptance. 

Sharing with my parents that our Vietnamese traditions were accepted through strength and happiness led to more stable and connected relationships with my family and friends. I discovered that being of service to others brought me joy, especially when there is a potential for everybody to thrive.

Illustration by Thuy Do

My experience as a birth doula was insightful on how health and wellness were perceived by society. I felt there ought to be more openness and equanimity with medical interventions. Providing physical touch through massage and utilizing a rebozo, a traditional Mexican shawl, to support and comfort the parent in labor were vital to building connection and lessen risk for trauma. I shared these techniques to the birth partner to empower the family during this intimate time without rushing the process and trusting fully. The ways to provide comfort and security were a priority in how I cared for others outside of this line of work. 

One important thing I learned from healthcare is that finding calmness within creates a gentle ripple effect, transforming into a wave of meaningful change.

Over time, I transitioned the practices into the administrative works of public health in hopes to create positive changes within my community. Staying driven and focused were challenging at times since I felt like I was losing my grounding and the processes to healthy outcomes were an uphill battle. But I reflected that managing conflicts and obstacles requires patience, time, and space. With these components followed opportunities to grow more into my work in public health efforts for the AANHPI communities with compassion and excitement. One important thing I learned from healthcare is that finding calmness within creates a gentle ripple effect, transforming into a wave of meaningful change. I took these as moments to help people feel empowered and be more tuned in with themselves.

Having the thoughts of my parents in the back of my mind, I have always wanted to work with people who I can identify with, to feel like I belong – almost like I am home. And building up a home calls for a strong foundation. Joining SEARAC has been a pivotal moment for me, especially since I can serve other Southeast Asian and neighboring communities with clarity and purpose. I enjoy helping others find their voices and for them to feel included through engagement and outreach. Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but will never forget how you made them feel.” Finally, I have found some harmony when I can connect with others to strengthen our communities through action. Not only making my family proud but making myself proud, which is a liberating feeling. 

Thuy Do is SEARAC’s California Program Manager to provide thought partnership and execute SEARAC’s state-level programming. To contact Thuy, e-mail thuy@searac.org.