My Journey From Vietnam to USA
At the age of 7, I immigrated to the US with my mom, aunts, uncle, and grandma in 1990 through the sponsorship of a church. We were first transported to the Philippines and stayed there for around 6 months before flying to Fort Worth, Texas.
In the Philippines, we were given a little one-bedroom hut and used whatever money we were allowed to bring to buy little snacks, which we sold at the storefront of our house. It wasn't much income, but we didn't need much to survive because almost everything was provided through the sponsorship. Every week we would gather at the center of town and were given soap, toothpaste, food, and other necessities, all of which were divided up according to how many people were in the family. Soap and gourd were sometimes cut into thirds or even fourths.
We were supposed to be in the Philippines for 3 months, but after 4 months, we still had no update. Soon my aunts, uncle, and grandmother were allowed to go to the US first, leaving my mom and me behind. Things got worse when my mom got a letter in the mail informing her of my dad's affair. He wasn't allowed to come along as the paperwork was submitted before they got married and his name wasn't on the documents. But the agreement was always to sponsor him once we were situated. I had to take my mother's last name to come along. My mother tried to kill herself and me with rat poison. Thank heavens she didn't have the heart to do it. I remember those grueling 6 months vividly, not because of the hardships, but because of the unknown. What if we were stuck in the Philippines forever? We couldn't go back to Vietnam or the US, and we had no family in the Philippines. It felt like we were in limbo of Dante's Inferno. Thankfully, after around 6 months, we got notice that we were approved to join our family in Texas. We cried tears of joy.
When we got to the US, it was another awakening. There were no roads made of gold or big mansions like I had envisioned, partially kidding. We rented one bedroom from someone's house, and 5 of us slept in one room while my uncle slept on the couch. It wasn't much, but with a sigh of relief, we were "home".
Back in Vietnam, my mother had her own business. Running a business was something she was always passionate about. But moving to the US and not knowing the language, she did what everyone did, took a 9-5 job. But for her, it was 5:30am-2:30pm. She always said she would open her own business one day, but that day never really came. Her dream never came because she was busy fulfilling mine. Well, in 2023, I started my own business, a publishing company called Wind River Creative. My mom cannot read or write in English so I wrote her a Vietnamese book. I still remember the first time she read my black and white 4x3” book prototype. She bawled. She thought it was just something creative I made. Then later, I told her I was going to publish it, she cried again. And when I told her I started my own business, she cried tears of pride. Her dream of having a business never came, but now she can proudly say that her daughter is a business owner and published author.
When I was in college, I had a note on the wall by my light switch that read "Do it for mom." Even now as an adult, every day I wake up, I still remember those words. Do it for mom.