By Julie C, Stephanie R, Renee A .
Grade 7, Illinois
Country of Origin: Vietnam

Phan T., Vietnam

I came to Southern Vietnam in 1954 after living in North Vietnam. I had been fighting in the Vietnam War for 14 years. My captain told me to go to America and I thought that would be okay because the Americans that I worked with were very nice. Also, it wasnĘt safe in Vietnam because people were committing murder in public.

In 1975, my wife and my seven children took the Navy ship and only the clothes on our backs to the Philippines. Then we took an American ship to Guam and stayed there for a couple of months. Finally, we were heading to America in a plane, and our destination was Arkansas. Here I was able to help out at the Red Cross.

My first impression of my time in America was that I was very worried. I didnĘt know what our future would be like. All of my brothers and sisters were in Vietnam and I had no other family in the U.S. I had to be sponsored to get work, so I came from Arkansas to Immaculate Conception Parish and they agreed to sponsor me.

Here, I found my present home, in Elmhurst, Illinois. I had another son, and we named him Arthur. I found a job working at Immaculate Conception Grade School and High School, working as a security guard, with only a high school degree. Luckily, in the army, I learned some English so I was able to communicate a little bit.

I found that many things in America were the same as Vietnam. The clothing was the same, and recreational things such as volleyball, ping-pong, and being a Catholic were alike. For food in Vietnam, our meals usually consisted of rice.

The houses, government, and seasons were different, though. Houses in Vietnam were wood and not in as good a condition as the U.S. Vietnam was a Communist country, while America is a Republic. The seasons back home consisted of two, a dry and wet season. In my present home, there are four seasons. I have grown to love America and its new experiences.

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