James Nguyen was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He grew up in Southeast Portland and attended Whitman Elementary School, Lane Middle School, and Grover Cleveland High School. He currently attends Portland State University and is an active member of EMPOWER, an organization that supports first generation Asian American students.

In this oral history interview, Nguyen starts by talking about growing up in Portland, attending Vietnamese school at Lavang, and learning about Vietnamese culture and traditions from his parents. He then goes on to talk about his experience at Portland State University, being a student during the COVID-19 pandemic, and being part of EMPOWER. Nguyen also talks about being Vietnamese American and how that has shaped his experiences, such as being one of only a few Asian students in high school classes. At the end of the interview, he shares more about the Vietnamese community and culture in Portland, such as the language barrier between generations as well as the lack of representation in history classes in schools.