Photo: Zainab Syeda

Anh V.

Vietnam-USA

26, Business Analyst
Orange County, CA

My Grandpa was an interpreter for the American Forces during the Vietnam War. He fled Vietnam immediately after the fall of Saigon in 1975. He traversed on a fishing boat with a few others to the Phillipines, where he took immersion classes and waited for his paperwork to process. It wasn't until nine months later that he finally made his way to Long Beach, California. About a decade later, he was able to unite with his wife and family. I never let myself forget how privileged I am to be a Vietnamese-American. What if my family was not able to leave Vietnam in 1975 and immigrant to the United States? Being a young woman in America, I have so many more opportunities than I would have if I weren’t from here. My life’s narrative would be so different and the very thought of it scares me. What if I weren’t from here? What if I had grown up in Vietnam? I might be less compassionate and more prejudiced and hateful. I might not stand up for others. My values and beliefs might be wholly skewed and I might pass the prejudice and ignorance onto my children. If America didn’t open the gates to the Vietnamese people fleeing from war, I might not even be here. And so it’s important to understand that America would never be the greatest place on this earth if it didn’t and doesn’t open it’s arms to immigrants and refugees. It’s essential to grasp the concept that we are all refugees and immigrants.

Why did your family come to the United States? To give the children and future grandchildren opportunities and a better way of living life.

What would the U.S. be missing out on if you or your people were banned? A steaming bowl of delicious pho and crusty/savory banh mi. A woman who traveled to Istanbul in the summer of 2013 to learn about Islam because she refused to write off a religion based on what the media portrays Islam to be. A vibrant and culturally rich community in Little Saigon - the biggest enclave of Vietnamese people outside of Vietnam.