With a twinkle in her eye and pointing at her chin, Sister Chinh Nguyen helps us Anglos say her name. She wants us to call her Sister Chin!
Sister Chinh has been in this country for four years, and for the past year, she has lived with the Sisters of St. Benedict’s while studying theology with a focus on liturgy and spiritual direction. In her spare time, she is learning Latin.
Sister Chinh was eager to tell me about her beloved Vietnam. She loves her country, her family, the landscapes and the respect with which they welcome guests, even though hers is a small and developing country.
“We have a peaceful environment, so no protests; but the negative side is that we may not protest, even when we should in order to develop better in the areas of education for both boys and girls, for example. We have freedom of speech and religion up to a point. We need equal opportunities to participate in collective decision-making in society as well as in the Church,” she said.
Sister Chinh sees huge differences in the standard of living between our two countries. In Vietnam, she has only a small room in her Dominican convent, no air conditioning in endless hot weather, having to handwash clothes daily and line dry them. “But I will accept and adapt to that when I return home,” she says.
When I asked about her meals and what they have for desserts, she answered, “Bananas, the cheapest fruit, as we grow them in our country. No apples, too expensive, except perhaps once a year!”
Here in Minnesota, Sister Chinh says she has appreciated the two monasteries, her professors, and her ever-growing language facility. She says she sees many opportunities for life, study, growth and healthcare in this rich, big country. She said she feels deeply respected and experiences many generous people wherever she has been, whether at the airport, her classes, or at her present home at the monastery.
“I don’t think it’s only because I am wearing a veil; God takes care of me through thoughtful people!”