I’m always interested in different cultures and backgrounds, so I chose to interview my best friend, Vung Niang. Vung identifies herself as an independent young woman from Burma. She prefers her ethnic to be Zo – people who live in northwestern Burma. She is one of the most enthusiastic and outgoing people I have ever met. Vung came to the U.S. when she was 12. When I asked her what activity that she had done and considered environmentally sustainable, Vung answered farming. Not only farming is a part of her culture, it also carries many great memories while she was living in Burma.
Vung was born in a poor and large family. She explained that they lived in a small village close to a jungle and mountains. Farming was not only the way for the villagers to put food on the table, but also is a part of their culture. Almost everyone, including women, elders, and children, participated in farming. Besides that, most of the men hunted wild animals and cut woods to sell. Women were not allowed to go hunting because many accidences had happened. Since the village was small, everyone knew each other. They went farming together, shared food, and helped out whoever in need. Vung usually followed her mom to the farm where they planted all kind of vegetables. They woke up at 5 in the morning and came back home around 6 or even stayed at the farm overnight to watch over the vegetables. One of her best memories while growing up was spending time with her mom and siblings at the farm. She remembered playing with her siblings while her mom was grilling corn for them after a successful harvest day.
Corn had a special meaning not only to her but also to other people in the village because it helped them overcome starvation and made them feel full for a long time. Because of its advantages, corn had become an important plant and a dominant food. Vung believed that spending time and working together helped strengthen her family’s bond.
Vung shared that she felt bad for her younger siblings, because they came to the U.S. when they were very little and didn’t have the same experience as Vung. According to Vung, her younger siblings as well as other kids don’t want to go outside and play anymore. All they do nowadays is playing video games and being on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. She wishes to have a small garden behind her apartment so the whole family could do farming and spend time together like they used to do. Unfortunately the family tradition back in her village in Burma is decreasing as well. Many parents don’t want their children to work on the farm because they just want them to focus on studying. After graduating, the children will move to the city in order to find better jobs to make more money. As a result, not many people want to continue the farming culture.
Through Vung’s story, I learned that outdoor activities, such as gardening and farming, could bring people in a family as well as a community together. Not only does gardening help sustain the environment, but it also provides organic and healthier food. I believe that having a community garden is necessary because of its undeniable advantages.