Jacqueline Saporiti, a painter and recent Portlander, was born and raised in Saigon. In 1965, she came to the United States through a program with the American Field Service and was an exchange student for one year before returning to Vietnam. Saporiti then decided to attend university at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. After graduating college, she worked as a clothing designer, painter and mother, raising her two children in Nashville, Tennessee. She was drawn to Portland in part because of its diversity and the presence of the Vietnamese community, as well as the city’s neighborhoods and climate.
At the beginning of this interview, Saporiti discusses why she decided to move to Portland and her first impressions of the city, as well as how the year 2020 has impacted her ability to connect with others in the community. She then talks about her childhood growing up in Saigon, going to school, and what it was like being a third-generation French citizen in Vietnam. She also shares the story of how she began to notice the impacts of the Vietnam War and the assassination of her grandfather. Saporiti goes on to discuss what it was like coming to America as an exchange student in 1965 and then returning in 1968 to attend university. She speaks about finding a career in the arts, raising children, and the ways in which she instilled Vietnamese culture and heritage into her two sons through folklore and food. At the end of the interview, she shares how important it is to preserve culture such as authentic recipes and her hopes for incorporating that kind of preservation into curricula and communities.