Being a minority was not easy in high school. But now, diversity gives me strength
Tim Hoye – Ngo Van Tai
Left Vietnam in 1975 as a war orphan and was adopted by an American family. Now 29 years old, living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. Returned to Vietnam in 2000 on the 25th anniversary of Operation Babylift with Sr Mary Nelle Gage Motherland Tour.
Consultant with global appraisal firm
On Being Vietnamese:
The Vietnamese culture is beautiful and I’m proud to be a part of it. Although I’ve been raised as an American citizen I will never forget the sacrifices made so that I can live here in the United States. My experience during the return trip to Viet Nam has confirmed how deeply rooted the culture is and why the Vietnamese have such a hard-work ethic-it shows in the beauty of the country.
The best thing about being Vietnamese is knowing that my roots are in a people who are relentless and will do everything for the well being of their families and friends. When I was younger, being a minority was not easy in high school. But now, diversity gives me strength.
Every Vietnamese adoptee has had very unique experiences in their life – positive and negative. However, we all should feel grateful to those who took risks to give us a better life. I thank my parents, the adoption agencies, the American consulate and naturalization and my birth mother. I see a very positive future for the Vietnamese community if we all strive to live better and celebrate diversity.
Happy To Have Achieved:
Undergraduate degree in International Business & Spanish from St. Norbert College
Also served 2 years with United States Peace Corps in Bolivia
My return trip to Viet Name showed me that the young people of Saigon are not that much different from the rest of the world. I met a friend who lives in Ho Chi Minh City who works for a marketing firm. She is very successful in her work and says that the post-war generation is success driven – to improve the lives of their families and to create a better life for their children.
Here in the United States my hope is that the Vietnamese culture is more widely accepted by American culture and that Vietnamese-Americans are more open to sharing their rich heritage. Too often the tendency is to stay within one’s community, but I’d like to see more open interaction.
Le Ly Hayslip wrote “When Heaven and Earth Changed Places” and was the founder of the “East Meets West” Foundation. Later, Oliver Stone adapted her book in the film “Heaven & Earth.” In an email message to me, she gave me inspiration and advice for my return trip to Viet Nam.