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Discovering Hope in a New Land


To this day, my mom still can't stand look at a can of sardines without getting sick ... Mom had many various jobs including seamstress making hospital robes, ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Discovering Hope in a New Land

Discovering Hope in a New Land
By Helen Quach
  • My parents were reluctant to leave their
    homeland, Vietnam. But with the aftermath of the
    war came many harsh, new changes. They had no
    choice but to pack up and leave. The journey to
    America was long and perilous, but they both knew
    that many opportunities and freedom awaited them
    there. Through hard work and strong perseverance,
    they were able to overcome the obstacles faced
    and established a good home and a new life in

Where is Vietnam?
Van Huynh
  • Born on February 2, 1956
  • Oldest of five, has two sisters and two brothers
  • Family owned a small fruit and vegetable stand
  • Lived in the small village of Rach Soi
  • Loved school and was very committed to her

Cuong Quach
  • Born on July 10, 1950
  • Youngest of four, two brothers and one sister
  • Came from a wealthy family, lived in the same
    village, but down the street from my mom
  • Family owned an herbal shop
  • Father would help with measuring out ingredients
    and preparing various medicines after school

Before America
  • Had a good life
  • Many friends
  • A successful business
  • All relatives were in Vietnam

At the age of eighteen, my mom was married to my
Vietnam War
Communist North
Democratic South
The Vietnam War
  • 1945- Following the surrender of Japan, Ho Chi
    Minh and his followers created the National
    Liberation Committee of Vietnam to form a
    temporary government.
  • Vietminh were a group of Ho Chi Minhs followers
    that wanted Communism in Vietnam
  • 1946- French and Vietminh Reach Agreement, prior
    to 1945, Vietnam had been a colony under French
  • France recognizes Vietnam as a "free state
  • Even before the war had begun, there was a civil
    war occurring in the country between the north
    and the south over the issue of government form
  • America, afraid that Vietnam would become a
    Communist country and that Communism would spread
    throughout Asia decided to help out
  • Fought alongside with the Democratic south
    against the Communist north
  • South loses to the communist, in 1975 the
    Communists captured the capital of Saigon
  • After the fall of Saigon, the Communist Party set
    out to reunite the North and the South
  • Confiscated land and property and sent many to
    re-education camps to become good Communists
  • The Communist Party took everything that my
    parents had including their homes, businesses,
    and life savings

Path to New Beginnings
  • My family fled the country after being deprived
    of all that they owned
  • Wanted to escape prosecution that was brought on
    by the new communist government
  • Left the country in 1978, shortly after my
    sister, Chau, was born
  • Were considered political refugees by the United
    Nations- means that the United Nations considered
    their lives to be in danger

The Dangerous Journey
  • Paid six/seven ounces of gold (Dang Ky) per
    person to an illegal organization to help them
    flee from Vietnam
  • Immigrants would escape by boats that were usual
    22 ft long and occupied at once 340 people
  • Had to deal with horrible conditions on the boats
  • Space was very limited, people were hardly able
    to sit or stand
  • Many died during the trip and were simply thrown
  • Sailed during harsh weather, strong winds and
    violent waves
  • Had to stop by Thailand to pick up supplies,
    while there, any valuables they had still had
    were stolen from them
  • Trip from Vietnam to the refugee camp took about
    five days

A Legend of Hope
  • Thousands perished in the dangerous boat rides
    across the sea to the refugee camps
  • A tale to raise hopes that was commonly told
    among Vietnamese immigrants was the story of the
    Goddess of Mercy
  • According to this famous tale, a boat heading
    from Vietnam to one of the refugee camps almost
    capsized during a storm, but was saved and guided
    to the shores of the Philippines by a figure
    robed in white riding upon a majestic golden
  • This was the Goddess of Mercy and her mystical
    golden dragon

Life in a Refugee Camp
  • Could not directly go to America
  • In 1979 were relocated to a refugee camp on a
    small island, Pulua (Malaysian for island)
    Bidong, off the coast of Malaysia
  • Stayed there for sixteen months where food was
  • Everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner they
    were each given a packet containing a can of
    sardines, a can of chicken, a can of beans, some
    rice and juice, all provided by the Red Cross
  • To this day, my mom still cant stand look at a
    can of sardines without getting sick
  • Life was very hard and depressing for my mother
  • One day, my sister two years of age, pointed to
    an apple and asked if she could have one, my mom
    replied sadly, No honey, you cant have that
    apple, we dont have money to buy it, but when
    were in America I will buy lots of apples for
  • Did nothing except wait day after day for the
    United Nations High Commission for Refugees
    (UNHCR) to process their applications for America
  • While staying in the refugee camp, my mother gave
    birth to my older brother Duc
  • We always joke that he was a random child my
    parents found on the island
  • Malaysia was not the only country to offer
    refugee camps, other countries included Thailand,
    Cambodia, and the Philippines
  • Pulua Bidong was considered a mini Saigon due to
    the predominant population of Vietnamese, 255,000
    Vietnamese immigrants once called this tiny
    island home

Life in a Refugee Camp
Why America?
  • Had a choice of going to many other countries
    including Australia, New Zealand, Germany,
    France, but chose America
  • Relatives that immigrated the prior year were
  • Wanted to escape the prosecution faced in Vietnam
  • Heard many wonderful things about this land of
    freedom and equality from Dads two brothers

New Beginnings in America
New Beginnings
  • Came to America the August of 1980 with very
    little resources
  • Had few relatives here and most of their
    valuables had been stolen
  • Did not stop them from creating a new life

New Life
New Experiences
The Language Barrier
  • Learned very little English in the refugee camp
  • Once they arrived in Chicago went to Canterbury
    Church everyday for an hour and a half to learn
  • Church also provided them with clothes and food
  • Mother took English classes at Truman College,
    but never had time to graduate from college
    because of family and work
  • Father also attended Truman College

First Home
  • First home was an apartment in an urban
    development in Uptown Chicago, 4848 Winthrop
  • Living here was the first time my family met
    other ethnic groups, Mexicans, African Americans,
    other Asians

Various Jobs
  • Mom had many various jobs including seamstress
    making hospital robes, baker, and finally opened
    up a restaurant
  • Mom heard of money being made through bakery
  • Decided to bake goods to sell in Argyle, an
    ethnic Vietnamese/Southeast Asian community in
  • Father went to work in wholesale food shipping,
    Thailand Food, where pay was as low as 600 a

Life Now
  • Leaving behind their homeland to embark on a
    journey to a country that they knew nothing of
    was a difficult task for my parents
  • Although starting a new life here was very hard,
    my parents continued to do the best that they
    could to offer a better life for their children
  • After moving six times through various parts of
    Chicago, they finally moved to Lincolnwood in
    October of 2000
  • Through much hard work and many jobs, my family
    now owns a successful restaurant in Uptown
    Chicago and have a life that they always dreamt of