Since I will be traveling outside the US over the summer, my advisor *strongly recommended* that I visit the travel clinic before I go. So I did. I told the doctor I plan to visit the UK and Vietnam.
“UK is fine but for Vietnam, you’d need to be careful.”
“What do you mean?”
“Let’s see. You’d need to be protected against malaria, typhoid, insects–”
She went on to list about 10 different kinds of vaccination I should take before going back home.
“Doctor,” I said. “I’m from Vietnam.”
“I know. Our body loses some of its immunity against the local viruses and bacteria when you’ve been outside the country for 6 months.”
Oh yeah, and also, because now that I live in the US, my life is suddenly worth more than when I was living in Vietnam. Seeing the look on my face, the doctor backed off a little.
“You can skip some of the vaccines if you avoid the rural area.”
“My family lives in a rural area.”
Even though I appreciate how much care I am given here in the US, I left the travel clinic feeling an incredible sadness. Somehow, there is now a wall between me and my people. Somehow, I feel like I had betrayed them. What would my parents think if I told them I had to be vaccinated to go see them?