Tien Nguyen Part 2


Anne: the mic off . . . No. I hear you, I hear what you’re saying. I know there are times when there is war and there is no way to avoid it, that it’s going to happen, and there’s no way to avoid it. But I hope that human beings will someday get to the point where they say to kill innocent children to kill people . . .

Tien: That’s wrong.

is wrong. Any way you cut it. No matter what your beliefs are. There has to be another way

both of us: to solve the problem.

I agree. Etc.

Ooops. Sorry.

But anyway, let’s get this done. Because we could sit and talk for another 20 hours and never get this done. Okay.

2 So you’re working for the state for ODOT. And Christie has graduated from high school.

Yeah. And she have a college degree.

Where did she go to school?

She go to OU. In Eugene.

University of Oregon.


And your son will be graduating from high school this year? And now you want to think of a way to give back.


Tell us about that.

Yes. That’s what I think in my mind after I set up my family, everything okay. In my life, I owe a lot of people: My friends back in Vietnam, my friends in the camp, and when I come here American friends here, and everything give me back my life. Now I want to do something. But what can I do? That’s what my question of my mind. And I think I can do it, how about if I help the young Vietnamese generation to be the good person. So when they grow up to be adults they can contribute back to the life here. So what can we do now here: To teach the children right or wrong, to teach the children morals, to teach the children culture. So when they grow up they could be good person. That why we get together a group of people and we found the Vietnamese school in Portland and around this area here.

How many people?

For right now, from the beginning we don’t have much. Beginning, when the school was found, I’m not the founder of the school. The school was found in 1990 in Beaverton, and when the school moved to Portland because easier for a lot of the Vietnamese people live in Portland we have more Vietnamese people and children living in Portland than in Beaverton. So they moved to Madison High School, and at that time I get involved. I involved in the school for five years and try to do something like I said before: Teach the children about right or wrong, morals, culture and keep their roots.

Keep their roots?

Yeah. I want to keep their roots for they remember where they come from and how to be good person, to contribute back to life. That how I get involved with the school. And a lot of people think the same way like I think, so we work together. And the school now, it grow up a lot in the past five years.

You’re not at Madison High School any more.

Not any more. We are in Southeast Center of PCC in 82 and Division, the new complex over there. In the past five years the students grow up from 150 to 500 now. And the volunteer people growing up, too.

What is the age of the kids who go to the school.

We have a lot of different ages of kids, from the smallest, the youngest is 5 years old, and we have a couple of American people 40 years old, but that not very much because that special class for some Americans who want to learn Vietnamese.

We have 18 classes, until 9th grade.


We got the limit in classes and teachers.

The school open from September to June every year, same as other school, and we are open on Sunday only. Kids stay here from 1 PM to 3:30. All the teachers and the people work for the school are volunteers, they own time, nobody get paid. The money for the school year is about $49,000 to $50,000 every year, and we have around 450 to 500 kids. That means at least $100 for every kid to go to school. But we don’t get anything, grants or anything. We have to make for ourselves. The parents they contribute, like last year they contribute $50 – that means they contribute about 50% of the budget. And the 50% left we have to run by ourselves. Like we do the dinner, fundraising dinner, we do the magazine to get the advertising from the business, Vietnamese, around here to get the money to add it up for the bus every year. So every people they have to work for it on their own.

And what do you do?

I am the principal of the school.

So your son has been going to this school all these years. And what does he feel about it what does he think about it? Does he understand its value?

The school will make the kids Vietnamese community understand what their parents want. Why the Vietnamese parents want them to do that.

3 How do you see your future? Two parts: The first is to take care of family; after that we will retire, travel maybe visit Vietnam; and continue to work for school.

I don’t want to stay in Vietnam now because the communists still in power in control. I have too many things I cannot forget, can never forget – to live over there now. And I don’t see the things I want to see now. That’s why I don’t want to go back. But in the future, if the communists not in control any more, I would go back to Vietnam. I think it’s where I belong, too.

4 You had someone visiting you from Vietnam last time I was there. Ly Muoy.