The Vietnamese Border within Phoenix 

by Kerri Bastin

            The border inside Phoenix that I chose to visit was at my neighborhood nail salon called Shiny Nails. The people who work there are all from Vietnam. The lady who did my nails is named Becky. She came to the United States twenty years ago because her uncle had come over and she wanted to follow him. She first lived in San Jose, California, where she immediately met a Vietnamese man and got married. They moved to Phoenix two years ago to be closer to his family here. The reason she became a nail technician was because it was something that she could learn to do in a relatively short amount of time. The rest of her family still lives in Vietnam, but since the flights are so expensive she only gets to go back every five years or so.

The blending of the Western and Eastern cultures is noticeable both visually and aurally in the nail salon. The nail techs speak to each other in Vietnamese, but of course they speak to the clients in English. The décor of the shop is also a blend of the two, with bamboo in vases, and prints of classical Greek sculpture on the wall. One aspect that really stood out was the Buddha, one of the most significant symbols of Eastern culture, and also the detail of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel which is one of the most famous symbols of Western art and Christianity. One commonplace thread that both of our cultures share that is seen in the nail salon would be the universal desire to be beautiful.


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