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  • Jullianne Pham

Bamboo: The Unity of the Vietnamese Spirit

"Tre già măng mọc".

“When the bamboo is old, bamboo sprouts appear”

The above proverb speaks of immortality for the Vietnamese culture and its people. Though our elders may die, there will always be a younger generation to take their place. The Vietnamese as a nation, a people, a culture will never die.

© TramiPhoto 2016

In Vietnam, the bamboo tree is a significant symbol of our culture and daily life. The solid, straight and high bamboo trees represent resilience, indomitability and bravery for the Vietnamese people. Bamboo trees often grow in clusters with strong vitality. They symbolize the solidarity, diligence and loyalty of our people, our homeland.

Bamboos grow almost everywhere in Vietnam and mainly in clusters in rural areas, rice paddy fields, and along village ponds. The serene aura of this landscape represents a symbol of peace in the our minds--a balance of positive and negative energy within the environment. Most importantly, bamboos symbolize the Vietnamese spirit, hard work, optimism, unity, courage, and perseverance--qualities that embody all Vietnamese.

Bamboos are used widely in everyday life and are woven in stories and fairy tales such as “Cây tre trăm đốt” (The Hundred-Knot Bamboo) or “Thánh Gióng” (The Story of Giong). The trunks are treated as valuable building resources to construct homes, furniture, agricultural tools, lamps, plates, chopsticks, and even souvenirs. During times of war, the trunks were sharpened to make weapons, thorns and traps. In food, bamboo shoots are commonly used in Vietnamese dishes such as duck noodle soups and salads. Traditional musical instruments such as the T' Rưng, a Vietnamese xylophone, occupy an important role in musical ensembles in the highlands of Vietnam.

Bamboos grace themselves in the minds and hearts of the Vietnamese people and have inspired cultural and artistic works throughout centuries. Bamboos keep our Vietnamese spirits alive with high esteem and remain closely connected to our hearts.

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Jullianne Pham


With her driving passion of health sciences, Jullianne aims to provide service, research, and education towards Asian-American communities in order to close the gap of health disparities that people of color face. She has worked alongside physicians and surgeons in the San Joaquin County as a Decision Medicine Intern, and has worked closely with the Vietnamese-American community in the Bay Area to raise awareness about unspoken diseases as a Community Health Outreach Intern at the Asian Liver Center of Stanford University. As an aspiring Physician Assistant with a concentrated service within the Asian-American community, Jullianne hopes to discuss and expose the unspoken diseases and health issues that do not create dialogue within the Vietnamese household and community.

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