바다

“바다 ” / bada / means “ocean” in Korean. This is also my name. My Korean mom chose this name for me because the lettering of this pure Korean word has many similarities to the sound of Dat, my Vietnamese name. This word has so many unique layers of meaning that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. When I was born, my parents called me Dat and chose Duy as my middle name because they wanted me to be successful and to be the only one as the words mean in Vietnamese. Spending all my childhood struggling to figure out my identity and how to be the only one, and then one day, “ocean” has given me all the truth I’ve been looking for. To be myself, to be the ocean, to be willing to get lost on this journey, to be on this boundless span of life, “soft enough to offer life, but tough enough to drown it away.”

My mom chose “ocean” because she believes that it represents everything about me. At times, I imagine what it would have been like to be born and raised in South Korea. I imagine what it feels like to have so many cultural identities and so many places to call home. I feel so grateful for everything I have. And I count myself as the luckiest person in the world for having met beautiful, resilient & inspirational people.

I’m so grateful for choosing to be unconventional. I remember as a kid, I always had this rebellious side. I hated rules. I defied authority. I questioned the idea of right and wrong. I hated injustice. I hated the crowd. I was afraid to be like everyone else. So I chose to keep going on my own path. And eventually, I accepted my differences. It feels lonely sometimes, but even if I could go back in time, I would still choose to repeat this life eternally. If you ask me what I would choose to be my life philosophy, I would say “I’m not bound to traditional ideas of home, family, friendships, happiness & life purposes.”

Isn’t gratitude the root of all happiness?

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”


before departure.