Our last post highlighted three books on an Our Response recommended reading list, all of which are available at Scout and Morgan Books of Cambridge. At the time I had just started reading one of the books, Where the Wind Leads, which I finished a couple days ago.
Oh. my. goodness. This memoir will go down as one of the most heart-rending, interesting, and inspirational books I have read in a while.
To recap: At the age of three, author Vinh Chung and his family fled Vietnam in 1979. Chung’s hard-working and quite well-to-do parents, his brothers and sisters, and many other relatives, ended up as boat people. Along with many thousands of other desperate refugees, the Chungs were denied asylum by the nations of the world and left to die on the open sea. The truly miraculous story of their rescue by the Seasweep, a World Vision rescue ship manned by former World Vision President Stanley Mooneyham, is profoundly moving. I was once again very proud to be in association with such a bravely compassionate organization, one willing at that time to take significant risks to do what was right.
Involvement with Our Response is not just about helping the people of Kivuruga, Rwanda, move out of extreme poverty to enjoy a better quality of life. It’s also about developing an interest in and love for all those near and far who are suffering. Learning what the Chungs endured in Vietnam after U.S. troops pulled out and the Communists took over, as well as what cultural adjustments were called for when Vinh’s family arrived in the United States, is likely to make any reader far more sensitive to the plight of the marginalized and persecuted. Understanding what drives that first generation of refugee and immigrant children to become highly successful adults—which was the case for every child of the large Chung family, despite daunting disadvantages—also makes for fascinating and insightful reading.
Once you’ve read Where the Wind Leads, you will likely never again look at those who have immigrated or fled to our country in quite the same way. Whether reaching out to a sponsored child in distant Africa or to someone here who “just got off the boat,” you may find yourself asking to hear their stories. The Asian woman who provides your manicure or haircut, the Hispanic working on your roof, the African-American professor teaching your college class, will most likely have a surprising and/or shocking tale to tell. We may even be more inclined to make the transition to American life a little less traumatizing for those newcomers who are still reeling from difficult-to-tragic experiences in their homelands.
Note: There are a couple bonuses to purchasing this book: (1) the author, who now serves on the board of World Vision, has arranged for some of the profit from his book sales to go to the organization that saved his life; and, (2) If you choose to pick up your copy at Scout and Morgan Books in Cambridge, you will be supporting a local business that has graciously partnered with Our Response.