November 9, 2005

A Quick Introduction

A quick introduction about myself. Fall 1978, my uncle's family and I made our long awaited journey from a refugee in Malaysia to the USA (land of opportunity). At the Denver Stapleton Airport, my father and his sponsors Sam and Karen Arnold awaited for our arrival and covered us with jackets as it was very cold that evening. I was overwhelmed and had no idea how I should act! After three years, I am now reunited with my father. The problem was that I heard he was dead after the fall of Saigon (04/30/1975) and now I am totally separated from my mother and brother who were still stranded in Viet Nam.

By now I have found out that my father and and his crew left when South Viet Nam announced it's surrender, his crew and plane landed in Guam. There, Sam Arnold and his kind heart sponsored my father and another person there to Denver, Colorado. During the three years there, Sam has helped my father learned and adjusted to the new culture. My father worked very hard as a dishwasher at a local restaurant and saved enough money to buy his first car (Honda Civic). Seeing his work ethic and determination to make it in this new land, Sam called the local newspaper and they did a very nice article about the new imigrants to this land. By the time I and my uncle's family arrived, my father has saved enough money and bought a house to hold us (all 12 of us) :-) Living in a house in the United States is definitely heaven compared to the refugee camp in Malaysia.

Equipped with a few English words (hi, hello, how are you?, I am fine), I was ready to hit the 4th grade at Western Hills Elementary. My cousins and I were the first Vietnamese in the area and were the only one in school. I believed they started a brand new program there (ESL) for us and Aki Tanner from Finland. They even got a Vietnamese and English (Lorelee Ratliff, ???) teachers for us, these teachers spend about half a day with us every day helping us learn our new language. I cannot say enough about Ms. Ratliff! On top of being a model in Spain, fluent in Spanish and a super kind heart. She helped made our transition to our new home and culture easy. Every few weeks, she would take us to her sister (Becky) farm in Boulder and allow us to ride her sister's horse. After a lot of fun at the farm, she took us to the pizza shop (I can't remember the name), where we can actually watch the guy making our pizza through the window.

As time goes, Aki and I became best friends. We spent a lot of time riding our bikes around the neighborhood, playing video games at 7-Eleven. His father (Simo Tanner) and mother (Sekka Tanner) were very nice, I even attended his sister's wedding (Privy <=[I probably botched the name] Tanner) who she married her high school sweetheart (Dan). At Western Hills, I also met Kent Putman, he and his mother were very nice to and has definitely taught me a lot about the new culture and language. There were definitely many others, but these individuals definitely made a significant impact on my life.

Definitely lucky! My father told me that my mother, her two brothers and my brother and another uncle's family has fled Viet Nam on a fishing boat and has made it to an island in Thailand (Bidong)! My mother and brother finally made it to the US in 1980 and our whole family was reunited. What a joyous day! What a great day! Tears was running down my eyes as I saw my mother and brother walked out of that airplane! It's true! They made it! During the sponsoring process, my father contacted a church in Estes Park, CO and asked for their help to sponsore my uncle's family over. We visited Estes Park every 2 weeks or so for quite a few years to spend time with my uncle's family whom have helped reunited our family.

Looking back now, all I can say is how lucky I am! How lucky my family is! All the nice people we have met along the way that has helped and shaped us to become who we are today and God Bless America!

Posted by phamx039 at 2:46 AM