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dragonfruit diary

DECEMBER 2, 2018

See how last year, I didn't even post a photo?  But we gathered, just the same, last year, and again this year.  We count ourselves lucky.






DECEMBER 5, 2016


Every year, a potluck just around solstice time.  This year, we welcomed back Corey and their parents home from some years in India.  Our special guests were our Brazilian homestay Bianca Barbieri, with her friend Maria Paula. Food, laughter, and Sam sang Frank Sinatra.  The best.







FEBRUARY 5, 2016


FEBRUARY 1, 2016


Welcome the Fire Monkey with the Vietnam Connection entry in the Chinatown Spring Festival Parade!

info here




NOVEMBER 2nd 2013 7PM




Please join VnC and VES at The Two Lions Pub  in Westridge Plaza North Vancouver for a fundraiser to build an early childhood education centre in  Kon Tum Province, a rural area of the Central Highlands in Viet Nam




Dance and build with us!    VnC Dad Steve Watkins and his band  Johnny and the Walkers are our hosts for one last night before the clock falls back.





From lead organizer VnC's Heather Bach: 





On Nov, 2, 2013 we are hosting a fundraiser at the Two Lion’s Public House raising funds for the Vietnam Education Society ( to build our 5th school in rural Vietnam.




Specifically, we are seeking donations for the silent auction.  We are expecting approximately 250 participants and all proceeds go to support the building this school.  We will gratefully acknowledge your support at the event.





The Vietnam Education Society (VES) was formed in 2005 to improve educational opportunities for the children in rural Vietnam, primarily through the construction of primary schools and early education centers and through the provision of scholarships and support to young girls in the country’s border areas who are at risk of being sexually trafficked.


VES’s current project is a two room early childhood education center in Kon Tum Province, Vietnam. It is in a mountainous, remote, poor rural part of Vietnam’s central highlands.  The commune has a population of about 6,500 people and most residents farm and raise livestock. Living conditions are difficult.


Over the past eight years, VES has built three primary schools including fans, lights, desks, blackboards and a washroom and two early children education centers. In 2012-2013, we also began providing scholarships to keep girls at risk of being trafficked safe and in school.  We have also committed to support a summer anti-trafficking camp for these same girls and others at risk.


One hundred per cent of all funds raised at this event (and, in fact, of all donations given to VES) go directly to the Vietnam projects.  (The VES founders personally cover all overhead costs, including personal travel to Vietnam to identify programs, meet with government officials, visit potential projects and participate in opening ceremonies.) VES is a registered Canadian charity (Charitable number 86073 7634 RR001) in good standing with Revenue Canada.  Thank you very much for any support you can provide.



Help us provide the opportunity for education that every child deserves!


Best wishes,


Heather Bach 

Member, VES Executive




The Viet Nam Connection


Viet Nam Connection (VnC) is a group of British Columbian families with children of Vietnamese heritage. Many of the children were adopted from Viet Nam.  Since 2002 the group has cultivated bonds of friendship through their celebration of shared Vietnamese heritage.

VnC enjoys traditional festive occasions such as Lunar New Year (Tet Nguyen Danh) and Autumn Moon (Tet Trung Thu)  as well as Canadian festive dates, raises money to build schools in impoverished areas of Viet Nam through the Vietnam Education Society (, and has recently enjoyed learning Vietnamese dance.



Kim Be Nhung

Kim Be Nhung was immersed in Vietnamese folk dance at the age of 11 and has devoted much of her life to her art.  `

Recruited by a dance college in Vietnam, Nhung lived the rigorous life of a young dancer, studying her school work and dancing intensively. She also trained in Russian classical ballet and lived in India, where she learned the classical North Indian dance called Kathak. Nhung says that Kathak is based on Persian and Indian styles of dance and has roots in Persian storytelling.

Nhungs`extensive repertoire includes traditional T'ai dance and various Vietnamese traditional dances as well as folk dance from India and Russia.  She has earned high praise for performances in countries as diverse as Sweden, Italy and Mongolia. From her experiences, she notes that audience behaviour varies between regions of the world. "Russian and Mongolian audiences are very serious," says Nhung. In contrast, she found audiences to be relaxed in Sweden and Italy where she performed in more casual, summer settings. 

Currently, Nhung teaches, performs, directs and resides in the Lower Mainland.  For more information on her work and other  South East Asian cultural activities,   please contact the South East Asian Cultural Heritage Society (S.E.A.C.H.)    

(excerpted from an article  in The Peak  by Lindsay Neilson)




Mua Sap


While two bamboo sticks are clapped together rhythmically, dancers move in and out of the sticks.  Part game, part dance, variations can be found in many parts of South East Asia, including the Philippines (Tinikling), Malaysia, Spice Islands, Myanmar, Thailand and southern China.  

Mua Sap is sometimes choreographed, but it is more commonly a game.  Players try to travel through the sticks without touching them, while the rhythm of the bamboo is maintained, or sometimes sped up, and foot patterns become more complex. 

In Viet Nam, the dance is said to have originated in the Vietnamese Central Highlands and Northwestern mountain regions.  Mua Sap is a popular traditional dance in Viet Nam, often performed to celebrate special events like New Year's day (Tet Nguyen Dan, Lunar New Year).  There are many different  arrangements of one tune which traditionally accompanies the percussion rhythm of the sticks. 



Some thoughts on Vietnam Connection         


This article appeared in FOCUS, Canada's adoption magazine, May 2011.


PHOTO:   Viet Nam Connection and SEACH members step out at 

Vancouver's Chinatown Lunar New Year parade, led by Betty Chau Nguyen. 

It's the annual Vietnam Connection Christmas party, and we`ve invited the new Vancouver families with small children adopted from Vietnam to join us.  Fellow a-parent David and I observe the chaos. 


Our group is a wildly improbable group of people. But for adoption, it's unilikely we'd have crossed paths. After close to a decade, the only common trait we’re sure of (besides children of Vietnamese heritage) is stubborn individuality.    

“It shouldn`t work, but somehow it just does...and I love it”, David says.  This "us" has become a part of who we are and how we live. David`s family prepares to move to India next month.  I will miss them awfully but we won`t lose them. By now, the `Vietnam connection` is for keeps. 

When a-mom ("a"doptive and "a"lpha)  Lois Nahirney hosted that first lunch nine years ago and coined the name “Vietnam Connection” (VnC),  our kids were as tiny as tonight’s Christmas guests.  Her twins, tiniest of all, barely made it under the wire before a shut-down in Vietnamese adoption that would last five years.   

Not only did this affect how most of our families subsequently grew,  it kept our group small.  At inception, our rolls included just fifteen B.C. families, eight of whom have continued together since.  Staying small, and thus close, was not our only stroke of luck.  We are also pure mutt - married, single, gay, straight, bio and adoptive kids, relationships with a variety of adoption agencies, and a crazy quilt of cultural heritages clustered around central Vietnamese roots. Some have adopted children from several different cultures, and for these families, VnC is one of several strands in the family weave. How lucky our kids are to grow up belonging to a crazy quilt, with no part of it strange or "other".  

“Adoption, and becoming a transracial adoptive family, redefine us” my friend Mary ( adoptee and adoptive parent) says. ``Ours is a melding of old lives (whatever they were) and new.  Regardless of what prior expectations we may have had, we now find we must reach out.  Look and keep looking until we find the people and ways that can fit the new present and future that belongs to this new family.”


The adoption connection felt by groups who travel together to adopt children,  or find friendship through adopting  is an odd sort of bond.  Shared difference and common experience make sudden cousins of utter strangers, entwining otherwise entirely disconnected lives.  Like cousins... sort of

As our little group of children stand on the threshold of adolescence,  I take stock.  The experts say that adoption groups tend to fall apart in this period of life. Interests diverge and broaden, schedules intensify, school takes over, budgets tighten, and the highly motivated, who’ve held the group together, grow weary.  Self consciousness and emotions about adoptive identity intensify in adolescence.  For these reasons and more, families often move on, perhaps retaining a connection or two from the group, which becomes a formative, albeit fading, memory of early childhood.     

I asked our eleven year old what she likes best about Vietnam Connection.  “The way we are the same” she said.  Each spring, our family holidays in warmer climes with some Ontario adoptive families.  The first time we caught sight of them - older white parents and a rambling group of Asian kids, predominantly Vietnamese – our daughter, then six, said `Mom, these are my people``.   

The kids take pride in their group. We've met with utter generosity from the Vietnamese Canadian community, and formed friendships and alliances.  Our kids boast about their dance group You Tubes.  The first time they appeared at the Vancouver Tet (Lunar New Year) cultural event, their photo made the front page of a newspaper in Vietnam the next day!

As a stayhome mum, I hear backseat and kitchen table conversation a-plenty.  That`s how I know for a fact that the kids talk together about adoption with a type of candour and knowledge reserved for other adoptees. They are the adoption experts, as the Wise Up Powerbook says, who can choose to educate the ignorant or opt for privacy.  But privately, they definitely talk. That we have helped make this ease and comfort possible makes me happiest. They are strikingly knowledgable.  

And why not?  In seven years, three have travelled to experience adoption through the addition of another child to the family.  Four have travelled Vietnam, revisiting their orphanage and caregiver in the process.  At age seven, one lived a year in Hanoi and will return to volunteer in an orphanage the spring that she is 14; her mother taught in the school her daughter attended and sent wonderful journal entries we all devoured. Another’s family formed a charity ( ) to build rural schools in their daughter’s province of origin, and subsequently visited the schools built. Still another has travelled throughout Southeast Asia en route to her family's new home in India.  For years, VnC’s families have raised money for the Vietnam Education Society, in the process giving our kids some knowledge of Vietnam and a feel for giving  None of us kid ourselves that these experiences will make our children at home in Vietnam. We want them to feel truly at home on planet earth, and to take ownership of their destinies. 

Vietnam Connection continues to celebrate Tet Nguyen Dan (Lunar New Year), Tet Trung Thu (Autumn Moon Festival), Christmas and sundry other occasions.  We have moved together through the childhood years of language playgroup, potlucks ‘n playdates,  birthday parties, picnics, and the odd summer holiday, where children roam together in an instant village of shared meals and beachfires.  

The children of the village are coming of age. Adolescent challenges will soon bear down on them – and on their parents.  Over the next five to ten years we will see what this connection means to our children as they make their own choices about how – and if - these threads continue to weave through the fabric of their lives. 


The kids themselves will show us in their own time and their own way whether this social experiment provided them with the ballast we'd hoped.  We will see who among them will lean into the role of mentor/role model/babysitter for these new little ones.  Will our children thank us for stumbling down this path,  and for our perseverance?  For thick and thin, sticking with “our people”?  To be continued..  

But while the jury's out, let’s keep on keeping on.  More challenges lie ahead and we are invaluable to one another.


Susan McKenzie is an adoptive mother in British Columbia, Canada.