Susan Le publishes book about heritage


Courtesy of Susan Le

A picture of Le with her book at an NRCL booth which is the competition that she wrote the book for at 15.

Valerie Kramer and Curran Nielsen

When senior Susan Le entered into a Vietnamese book writing competition when she was 15, she was given the opportunity to grow closer to her heritage while exploring one of her passions. Le’s instructor at her private Vietnamese Sunday school in Garden Grove, Trung Tâm Việt Ngữ Hồng Bàng, had recommended her to participate in the competition after she graduated as her class valedictorian. Her mother chose to have her enrolled in the school because Le was unable to read or write in Vietnamese.

“I could have a full out conversation with my grandparents. I

Valerie Kramer
The front cover of Susan Le’s book “Gia Đình Họ Lê” displays the story of a Vietnamese family, based off her own. “So my book is about a traditional Vietnamese family…I wrote about my family, so it’s based on five people,” Le said. “…I really enjoyed it because I got to talk about my Vietnamese culture and what we do and how it’s distinctive compared to other cultures.” Le said.

knew poetry and phrases in Viet. However, I did not know Vietnamese history, how to write, or read…”Le said over email.

During the competition, Le wrote a book during the allotted hour given based on her own Vietnamese family and culture, completely in her native Vietnamese language. The book describes Le’s family and their different traits and skills.

“I describe the characteristics of my family,” Le said. “The qualities of my dad, mom, grandma, grandpa, what they help me with, what their distinct features are: my mom loves to help people, my dad teaches me life skills, my grandma cooks for me and teaches me poetry, my grandpa teaches me how to be organized.”

Le explains that she chose to write about her family because she knew her passion and love for them would inspire her.
Upon placing second in the competition, Le was able to have her book published. Although she participated in the competition a few years ago, the children’s book was only published in February and it was sold this year at various Vietnamese tech fairs.

Le’s passion for writing, especially children’s books, has inspired her to pursue a job as a pediatric nurse where she can help children. “…I plan to just do things to gear my path towards helping children and giving them education by writing books I think that will help them,” Le said.

This competition was Le’s first time writing a children’s story but she has written other genres such as essays on Vietnamese heroes, murder mysteries, geography and culture.

“I only knew about the competition through my Viet teacher who encouraged us to compete in [it]…in class I did weekly dictation where the teacher reads a passage and we write down what he says and we did weekly essays where we responded to a prompt and I was surprised that I usually did pretty well.”

Le also said that writing has helped her to become closer to her own culture because she draws inspiration from her involvement in her Vietnamese heritage and community. “And I guess that writing this really helped me to show that I love my culture and that I have a deep understanding of it,” Le said. “I was able to talk about my knowledge of the Vietnamese culture (foods, poetry etc). But in the end, I also really am happy that I am able to provide an education to the many children in need, as NRCAL sells the book to educational institutes to teach Vietnamese.”

Le explains that due to her passion for writing she will most likely continue to compose stories in the future.