Fish Sauce by Anhthao Bui

Fish Sauce by Anhthao Bui
Fish Sauce is realistic fiction, and Anhthao’s second anthology collection.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Children's Corner


Primary: Dave Cortese

Primary: Dave Cortese

By Anhthao Bui

I have visited Capitol Hill in Sacramento several times, but I only walked around the building and took photos of the bear doorknob in front of the building. I enviously wondered what it looked like inside the building. Mr. Dave Cortese granted my desire. In 2012, I registered for the free bus tour to Sacramento by Mr. Cortese’s sponsor when I got the announcement about it on the Local Childcare Counsel’s mailing list from the Santa Clara Office of Education. 

I was impressed with Mr. Cortese’s leadership: a few days before the bus tour, Dave’s staff contacted me via email and phone with information about the yearly educational bus tour to meet congress at Capitol Hill. On an early beautiful morning in spring, at the Eastridge Mall, big buses with the engines on were ready to start. On the greeting table, the handbags were on the other side. Each attendee took one handbag with a booklet inside about the purpose of the tour, the agenda, and the schedule. Some Vietnamese American and Latino American staff members welcomed and assisted passengers to the bus in Vietnamese and Spanish. They gently reminded the participants to take a light breakfast from the tables. Mr. Cortese walked around to make sure everything was fine and greeted the guests. I excitedly dashed here and there to take photos and took notes as if I were a professional reporter or journalist.

On the way to Sacramento, I took many photos. I was fascinated by the golden poppy flowers, the purple and yellow flowering walls that were only blooming in spring along the two sides of the freeway. I stood up on my seat, turned back and forth, and moved around in order to take shots of the black cows, the empty, fertile dirt, and the cornfields. I was disappointed because I could not shoot the beautiful California landscape as I viewed it with my eyes.

We came to Sacramento around 9:00 a.m. The staff members handed us chips, candies, and drinks. We went to the big hall, the state’s education office. Representatives welcomed us and shared their accomplishments to help the state educational budget. We arrived at Capitol Hill; we entered the building with the other groups. My patriotic blood boiled and ran a marathon to my heart. I uttered, “Amazing! Magnificent!” The Capitol Building’s gothic décor was similar to the gothic architecture of Saint Paul’s Cathedral at the Vatican that I saw on the Internet and in movies. After the tour, we ate lunch in front of the building. That night I emailed thank you notes to Mr. Cortese’s office and promised him I would write about the bus tour. I eagerly told my friend about the trip. My friend extinguished my enthusiasm with the comment: “Politicians appear at community events to lust voters into their campaigns’ traps. They swallow their promises (nuốt lời hứa) after they win the lotteries.”
 I did not agree with my friend. I replied, “Mr. Cortese already won the campaign, so he did not need to please the residents.”

I forgot Mr. Cortese and my unwritten article until I got a notice about the multicultural festival in the city of Alviso presented by Mr. Cortese: last time, I contacted Mr. Cortese’s staff member with the wish to have a booth at the festival, but it was too late. They promised to email me the registration form the following year.
I have heard about Alviso, the lowland that is located between Santa Clara and Milpitas. My friends and my instructors recommended me to visit Alviso, a beautiful landscape, for nature lovers. However, I locked on my plan to visit Alviso until I attended the Multicultural Festival. The exquisite originality of the city impressed me at my first drive into Alviso’s territory. I was stunned when my view followed the vast expanse of the wild lowland spreading over the horizon. The low, multi-faceted dams captivated my eyes. The salty air purified my lungs and alerted my senses. The fishy smells reminded me of the ocean in Vietnam. I was motionless in front of the remnant of the old railroad system and the very old house made of wood next to the straight railroad. I thought out loud, “My lovely Vietnam is here; it is in front of my nose and next to my neck, but I did not know it until now. Thank you, Mr. Cortese, a million times for drawing me to this land. I owe you again.”
  Once again, I admired Mr. Cortese’s leadership, budgeting, organizational, and planning skills. Mr. Cortese’s booth, the information booth, was at the entrance with a big banner that read, “Day on the Bay: A Multicultural Festival Presented by Supervisor Dave Cortese; Santa Clara County Parks –Alviso Marina Park” to welcome the attendees. On a desk, there were free bags with a schedule and a map of the Festival. Along the two sides of the Festival, there were big water tanks filled with small paper cups. The volunteers walked back and forth to refill water, clean up, and help the visitors. Mr. Cortese provided free barbeque hamburgers, hotdogs, and bread, although the Fair already had a food court. All the activities were free for children and adults, such as pumpkin carving (each child chose a free pumpkin), face painting, kayak trips, multicultural performances, free flu shots, and almost 200 booths. I took many photos and posted them on my Facebook Page. My friends were very fond of the photos of the landscape and the Festival. A friend of mine wrote, “In the middle of the economic downturn, to organize such a fantastic festival, Mr. Cortese might have potential sponsors, great personnel, and active helpers to contribute money and time for the Festival.”

I put away the Festival and Mr. Cortese until last June, when I received Mr. Cortese’s invitation to join the booth at the Multicultural Festival in October as his promise. I was surprised because time flew so fast, in the blink of an eye. Another year was coming again. I gave Mr. Cortese a credit of trust because he kept his promise. I believe in fate, which has allowed me to learn about Mr. Cortese three times, but supporting Mr. Cortese is my free choice. I decided to contribute my little effort to Mr. Cortese’s campaign for mayor of the city of San Jose next term, after recently reading about his decision in the San Jose Mercury News. With my busy and tight schedule, I do not know if I have enough time to help him or not, or what I will help him with. However, I will try to do all my best.

--Los Angeles; July 7, 2013