Zoë Maughan: This is Zoë Maughan and it is January 10, 2023. I am meeting with Lisa Nguyen at Ki Coffee in Beaverton. Thank you for meeting with me, Lisa. I'm wondering if you could begin by stating your name and telling me a little bit about yourself.
Lisa Nguyen: My name is Lisa Nguyen, and I am the owner and baker at HeyDay Doughnuts. And we are a business that spurred, opened during the pandemic—it was planned before that—but we navigated and turned our business into a little bit more than just doughnuts. It would be a part of the community, but it would also stay true to our roots, which is Vietnamese American baked goods.
ZM: So we'll go back and start with your childhood: could you share what part of Vietnam your family is from?
LN: I think both of my parents are from Saigon, and they both came at separate times. My mom came by boat earlier than my dad, she came in the early seventies and my dad came in during the war—so he came here super late. My parents actually met in Portland, so they married here. And I was born in San Jose.
ZM: Great, could you just tell me a little about your childhood and what it was like growing up in San Jose?
LN: Actually, I didn't grow up in San Jose, I was just born there. I grew up mostly in Southern California—so Orange County. I had a typical childhood. We were in very dense Vietnamese areas, and so that was a part of my upbringing. There was a little bit of assimilation and just trying to keep up with being in the States. I did feel that, I felt like we had to be a certain way. It's funny because we were part of a very large community and we were all doing that. But so much of our culture was so rich there: food, language, so I was able to learn and communicate in the language and eat the food. So I was never really taken away from [the culture], but a lot of the assimilation was just trying to fit in was very present and trying to be American was very present. But I'm very thankful that I was able to be a part of the community that still celebrated the food and still was able to speak the language.
ZM: Can you tell me a little more about your family, parents, and if you have any siblings?
LN: Yeah. My dad was a pilot in the war [before he came over]. [He was also] working with computer chips in factories and things like that. I have two siblings—I'm the oldest of three. My dad and my mom divorced and then my dad remarried much later and had another two siblings, so there's four of us. But for the most part, it was just me, my younger brother and youngest sister. My mom and I separated when we were young, but my mom was able to go back to college and get her Master's and do all those things. My dad ended up working his way into Avionics, so he still worked in that area in computers.
ZM: What did your mother study?
LN: I think she got a Master's in business administration. She's still working, and she really loves it. She's worked her way up, which I feel like I've gotten from her. She did the American thing and went to school—though much later after we were older. I graduated high school when she started college. She just wanted something better for her. She didn't sit there and do the cooking and cleaning and all of that stuff, she wanted to be something more, and so she did it.
ZM: That's so cool. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience going to school, maybe where you attended, and just what your experiences were?
LN: We were a very dense Vietnamese area. I didn't realize this until I was much older that I was the majority at my high school—we grew up with a lot of Vietnamese people, which was a blessing and also weird because I just never thought it was a big deal until I moved out of my city. My high school wasn't a great high school, but I felt I had all the opportunities to do and be what we wanted to be. And I feel like it was a blessing to be able to grow up in that atmosphere as a high school. But it was weird, because even though it was heavily populated with Vietnamese kids, we all wanted to be so American, and yet hold true and feel comfortable in our skin. There was definitely a weird conflict of being Vietnamese and being American. It was really hard, because I still feel that a lot of them were never able to escape that—they were stuck. I'm glad that I pulled myself out of there and was able to find it on my own.
ZM: You mentioned this a little bit already, but could you share a bit about when your family/parents left Vietnam? And maybe if you know anything about those experiences?
LN: I know that my mom left by boat. And from the stories and things I've read about them, they were sponsored from a church later on, but I know they came by boat and it was overly crowded. Everybody was starving, things like that. Once they got here, they were taken care of by that church and set on the course for success—so that was really cool.
My dad's story is a little bit different, my dad actually was in the war and flying planes during combat. I guess he and his team on the plane at that time decided to AWOL, they left. So they flew their plane out of the war and landed in...I believe in the Philippines, and they just waited to get sponsored. They couldn't go back. My dad was sponsored by the American pilot that trained them, and that pilot was actually in Washington at the time, I think it was Washougal. So my dad was sponsored and was sent to Washington, and that's how he came to Portland, because there was a little Vietnamese community in Portland at the time. My mom planned on going on the boat, and my dad maybe had five minutes to think about it, and they all decided to do it. My dad has passed away, and when I think about this story I think about how he just left his family. And he didn't even get to prepare himself for it, they just left. It wasn't something they were planning, it was a spur of the moment, they were like, "it's time, we can go." And they just left.
ZM: Did your mom come to Portland, or did she come somewhere else?
LN: She was in North Dakota, and then came to Portland. And I believe she came to Portland because she had a family member here. And I've only known my grandparents to be in Portland, and so I know she's always been in Portland, until she met my dad and moved to California.
ZM: Did your mother come here and did her parents come later? Or did they all come together?
LN: They all came together—[ZM: Oh, wonderful.] I believe my mom came here when she was a senior in high school. They were living in Hillsboro at the time and I think my mom attended high school there. I know that she went to Portland community college, so she did college here.
ZM: So what other family members do you have in the area?
LN: Let's see, we have some aunts, uncles, and cousins. And everyone else is spread out. I know that my dad has sponsored some family members to come, and so they're all in Colorado. But other than that, we just stayed with our immediate family. It's nice now that we have our own kids that we can be able to foster relationships with some of the ones that we know and keep in touch with. [We can] also have them build a better relationship with their cousins because we never grew up with cousins. Even though we were kind of separated from [our cousins], we were able to experience that family—maybe not within our own family—but within family friends and being a part of that community, and still fostering that.
ZM: You mention this a little bit, but are there any specific organizations, family members, or friends who helped your parents to establish themselves in the U.S.?
LN: I only know from my mom about that church, because it was actually written up back then. And so I was able to read that. My dad, I'm not so sure–[ZM: do you know the denomination of the church? I know there were a lot of Lutheran family services and Catholic services.] Yeah, it was probably, it seemed like a Christian church of some sort. I'm not sure which denomination it was at all. But my mom probably knows, she remembers it, I'm sure. I know my dad maybe had some help because as we were growing up, he used to provide help for families that came over from Vietnam. So I remember going to a lot of people's homes with my dad and providing them with couches, and beds, or trying to find them resources. I know that was a big thing for him, because I saw him doing that work later on, and we were able to witness it as is. I'm pretty sure there was some help that he had and that he was really thankful for, because we did it as a family. So I was able to see him do that for other families too who came to the states.
ZM: I'll shift a bit, when did you come to Portland?
LN: When I was in college, I was about twenty-one, when I first moved to Portland. I was here for five years, I met my partner, and we moved back to the bay. And then we came back here in 2016 after living in Singapore for a couple of years.
ZM: Was it school that brought you to Portland?
LN: The first part, then I left. We decided if we wanted to come back to California from Singapore and we decided we didn't want to do that at the time. We left that California bubble and we felt like it was our escape and we didn't want to go back to it. We knew we wanted to stay on the west coast. I remember being in Portland and really enjoying it and we thought it was a good balance for us. We were close enough to family that we could come down and visit, and so we just decided to move [here].
ZM: For the first time you moved here, what were some of your first impressions of the city?
LN: This is funny, because when I was in college and I moved here, I loved it. Because when you're in college, your mind is very linear. You have a very straight and narrow path. You hang out with the people you want to hang out with, everything is fun, right? And so it was great. I loved it here. But then moving back as an adult and having my own kids and being a part of...living in Asia for a little bit, it was hard. I was very in shock because I was really confused. I was like, "Oh man, I used to live here, and I don't remember it being so white." Maybe it was because I didn't have to think like that when I was in college? And I hung out with people that looked like me. I hung out with the people that I wanted to hang out with. It was a bunch of different cultures, but those were my chosen people, right? And now that I'm in the community, and I have to put my kids in my school, I think that it was a very hard—maybe year—trying to adjust. I just felt like I was in a brand new city, like I've never been here before.
ZM: Yeah, I think that distinction between being a college student versus not, you have a very insulated experience oftentimes. Can you talk a little about the neighborhoods you first settled in? Your move, your second move, where you were living. And just what those spaces were like? And maybe where you are now? [LN: Like in Portland, you mean?] Yeah.
LN: So when I was in college, or when I was living here in my early twenties, I was on 82nd— Southeast 82nd, Clackamas. Not even Clackamas, really just that south east of 82nd. And that's all I knew. For me, that's maybe why I never really ventured out of that area. 82nd is colorful, it has so many...I just never realized how white Portland was. And so when I came back, [82nd] was where we wanted to live. We looked around, and we couldn't find anything, it just didn't work out. [ZM: What year was this?] This was 2016. And then I didn't know that this whole side existed: like Southwest, Beaverton. Beaverton was an up and coming area...I only drove to Hillsboro because that's where my grandparents were. And so I was always like, "So far!" But we could only find a house on [Southwest] to rent at the time, and so then we just stayed here. And that was really hard. My kid went to the local school—the neighborhood school—and he was the only Asian kid from k to fifth grade. It was really shocking. It made me think about: where do I want to put my kids in? So they could see someone who looks like them? Or be able to eat lunch and not worry about what I have to pack for them? We did a full year there, and then we ended up going to a charter school that was definitely more inclusive. It's still not as...but they're a more mindful school, more social justice school, all the things that we want. Even then and now, my worry is that even though I live in a space where my neighbors are very loving and kind, but I know it might not be like that somewhere else. As much as I want to move, I'm comforted knowing that my neighbors have got my back right now. And it's not going to be like that everywhere else.
ZM: Can you share a little bit about your time in Singapore? What prompted that?
LN: So we moved over there for work. My husband had a work opportunity over there. And so we moved there for two years. I think it was for the first time I felt at home, even though I was a visitor, and technically a foreigner. But I felt more at home there. And it was really good to have my oldest there so that he could be respectful of cultures, understand cultures. Singapore is a hub, it's a hub for everything and they're really good about celebrating different religion, different people. But there are its problems. After living in Singapore, we were ready to come home, but we learned a lot about ourselves. I think for myself too, and that it's not perfect, even though it's there. But I never felt more comfortable in my own skin. I didn't have to explain nuances, and I didn't have to make people feel comfortable about what we eat—we eat the same things! I'm Vietnamese and they are Singaporean, we still have the same mannerisms, the same respect, and the same things that we all do naturally. It doesn't have to be explained, it's not weird, and it was really cool to be a part of that for a bit. I feel like being in Asia has messed me up a little bit, I'm like, "I just wanna go back." As imperfect as it is there, and as imperfect as it is here, I would rather be in a space like that because I feel like I was most comfortable in my own skin.
ZM: You shared a little bit about this already, but what was it like for your family to adjust back to the US? Maybe your child in particular? What was that transition like?
LN: Children are so resilient. They are so resilient. As long as they are with their parents and as long as we can foster and protect them, they're fine. They were fine—I had my second one in Singapore. That one never sat in a car seat, he just took public transportation, so I had to strap him in things, and it was just hard for him for the first six months. But other than that, I think me and my partner had the hardest time adjusting back to the culture. We came from a really safe country to have to be mindful of where we put our things, and we have to watch our kids. There wasn't a lot of freedom to feel safe. We came at the height of 2016, and so we came at a really bad time for everything. And then it was 2020, and so a lot of unrest came up. A lot of that made me yearn to be in Asia even more so. But this is where we're at right now. And over the years I've felt like I have built a really great community that I can be in this unrest with. And not that it's gotten better, but I've found a community here that understands the unrest, and has supported us during this time. They haven't supported us financially or supported us in our business, but just being a part of that community is nice.
ZM: So I'm going to shift a little to college and careers: can you tell me about where you went to college and how you decided to go?
LN: The typical college path for me was to finish. And I went to high school, I did all the things: was an honors student, got all the grades. Then I got to college and college was supposed to be easy for me, because I felt like there was no other path. I was like, "Yeah, of course I'll finish college." And then I did college for two years, and I just couldn't figure it out. I honestly was struggling with the pride of it. And knowing that it wasn't for me, and pushing through it anyways. I think that it was hard because I was paying for college myself, I was working two full time jobs—plus a part time job—trying to pay off college. There was nothing I was passionate about. I thought I could do anything, so I figured I would finish the major, but then what? But I was paying for it, and I was just so tired. And so by twenty one—I want to Cal State Long Beach—and I was really done with California so I moved to Portland half way through. And then I was at a community college in Corvallis. Because at the time, all the bordering states of Oregon could go to community college without paying the out of state fee. And so I did that for a year.
And I kept doing that—I kept going to colleges, trying to figure out my place.
College ended up not being for me, and I was in debt from going to school. I went to my counselor's office and I was like, "just take all of the credits that I've done, and give me a degree, I don't care what it is." I ended up with a social science with an emphasis on science, because I used to think I needed to be a doctor, I needed to go into nursing, so I took all these science classes. So I have this weird degree that I don't even use. I knew I was a good worker, I knew I was a hard worker, and I worked all my life, since I was fifteen. So I thought, "I'm just gonna work and work my way up." That was it. I graduated with a two year degree and I just started working. I worked really hard, I moved up in companies, and then I moved back to California and I met my partner. We did long distance then I moved back to California and it was tech—tech was a thing back then. So I just worked my way up in tech and became an online merchandiser. It needed a degree, but because I was able to work my way up and they knew I was capable of learning, that's how I got that.
But I always wanted to go into baking. I've been baking since I was eight. But it was a weird thing—it wasn't a career path I could do. [I told] my partner, "One day I'm just gonna go to baking school." And so I had my first kid, and he was almost one at the time, I was already at a point where I was like, "I'm just not happy at my job." [My partner] said, "You can quit if you want." So before his first birthday, I quit my job. There was a Michelin star restaurant that was looking for pastry help. I had no kitchen experience whatsoever, but I thought I would just apply. And so they called me in and they had me work for a night, and that was it. I worked there for six months. So I did the reverse: I worked in the Michelin restaurant first, then I went to baking school. I still liked [baking], so I went to pastry school, finished my degree there, and then we moved to Singapore. So then after that, I was like, "OK, I'm having kids now..." And working in baking and pastries, I know that the field was hard. The work life balance doesn't exist, and that is for all chefs. After I had my kids, I felt like my time was already done. I was like, "Oh, maybe that's it. I'm just gonna be at home and do whatever I can to make money later." That was it, I had a baking and pastry degree and didn't have anything to do with it at the time. Then I had another [kid]—I have three kids—[I had the third] in Portland.
ZM: Where did you go to pastry school?
LN: There was a really cool program in San Francisco. That was a really hard time too because I lived in San Jose, and I had to drive to San Francisco everyday for a year, and I had to be there at 5:45 in the morning. [ZM: I was just thinking—early mornings.] It was an hour drive one way—so two hours everyday for a year. It was a great program, I learned so much from that school. It was a community college that had a specialized baking program, and it was a free program, so they could only take ten people. It was fun.
ZM: Can you share a little bit about how this trajectory led you to start HeyDay and what inspired you to do that?
LN: When the time is right, it just feels right. Moving to Singapore was a five minute decision. Everything was, "OK, well we're just gonna do it." It was just easy because my mom and I were eating doughnuts—we do that all the time. And I have memories of eating doughnuts with my dad. My mom was like, "Oh I think you can make these better. I think you should start something." [She said it] jokingly, and I was like, "OK!" But then my partner called me at the time and I told him, "Mom said I should do this." I just said it, and he said, "You should!" And we just started. We began branding and were going to launch in March 2020 [ZM: Oh my goodness.] I know. And then it came, and I was like, "I don't want to do this. I don't think this is a good idea. I don't think this is the right time. I don't even know if this is going to work." I wanted to be responsible, I didn't want to gather people if they didn't need to be gathered. I was scared. Then May came around, and I was like, "Well, we have invested all of our money and my one piece of equipment." I worried about spending money on branding, and I thought, "Let's just try to do this so that we can break even." We were going to be done that summer, we were going to make as much as we can, and just try to make money. And then it blew up really quickly. I've always been a community person, and from the get-go I knew I wanted to share and educate people through food. But I also wanted to be a part of this community and I wanted to be able to help the community at the time because there was so much going on. I had resources, and I just wanted to be able to use them to help.
ZM: Can you share a bit about some of the businesses that you've partnered with? The first time I had a doughnut was at Portland Cà Phê so that is what has led me to you!
LN: Gosh, there are so many now [laughs]. We've done Ki Coffee before, Yoonique tea, La Perlita, Nico's Coffee, 40 LBS (Coffee Bar), The Sports Bra, Kate's Ice Cream, Mestizo, so many cool and very supportive people. There's just so many. And not even just partnering, there's so many people in this industry who have been rooting for us. I mean even Delicious Donuts let us open up there. And Cully Central—all these restaurants and people. It's been really nice to have that support. For me it's more of building that community and being able to build that relationship. At the time, we wanted to open up in places to help the businesses. If we can both bring people to one spot, it just benefits everyone. So we're really picky and choosy about where we go, and if we all align. I want to be able to make sure that we are all on the same page about being inclusive and being able to support Black and brown communities, LGBTQI communities. If they're not on board with that, I can't support them. There's been some no's, there's been a lot of no's actually. [ZM: Yeah, those values are important.] And sometimes it's big no's, because I have to go with my gut because I have to be true to who we are. If we don't say those hard no's, then my purpose is gone. [ZM: Right, community centered model.] I think we need to stay true to ourselves, if we don't, then we've lost the battle. It's not about getting our name out there, it's more, "How do we use it for good until it's done?" We do the best that we can.
ZM: Can you share a bit about what's next for HeyDay? I know you've just moved into the new kitchen. What's on the horizon for you?
LN: We are opening soon, at some point. [ZM: Yay!] But I think we are changing our model a little bit, doughnuts will always be there, but we have definitely stepped into the realm of doing more Vietnamese American, Asian American desserts. We're definitely going to tackle that a little bit. But we're still just gonna be this curated, small business that is just gonna—small batch. I think that we want to teach people to eat within their means. We don't believe in food waste. We want to encourage people to support small businesses and this is it. And work life balance, how do I curate that for my own self? We can't be our best selves, we can't provide our best product if we run ourselves to the ground, it's all just going to come tumbling down. And so how do we teach [customers] to appreciate that this is our time to build a different kind of culture for this kind of business? It might be hard, but this is what we've been doing this whole time. And so nothing is going to really change, except for we're going to have more hours, we're going to have a building, we have a kitchen, you can still find us at Portland Cà Phê. Nothing is going to change other than we’re gonna be open more often. And I feel like that is a bonus because right now, you can only find us when we pop up, so it's only better for us. Other than that, we're excited to test out new items, and continue to show a piece of our upbringing and culture in different ways. I definitely want HeyDay to be an incubator for other businesses to be able to use our space—so that is something that is on my heart too. Small businesses who might not wanna go big but just want enough space to play in and test out things. How do I still use this space to uplift other small businesses? How do I create fun opportunities for collaboration and things? So yeah, there are a lot of things going on—small baby steps at a time. We want to use that space the best way we can. Not for us, but for the community.
ZM: That's great. I know this is a big one: what does a day in life typically look like for you?
LN: Oh my goodness [laughs]. So a lot of it is getting up early and getting my wholesale out. Usually I'm done with the kitchen by seven in the morning. And then I go home, I make lunch for the kids, get them ready for school, then I take them to school. Then I purposefully have all my meetings between the hours of ten and twelve, so that I can meet up with people, catch up with other vendors, do any meetups and things like that. Then I go do some work, pick up the kids, then it's dinner. That's my day. Right now, we're organizing and cleaning—all that stuff—it'll still be the same, but now we have our own space so we don't have to leave by a certain time, we can keep going. [ZM: That's really nice.] It is really nice, it gives us a little more flexibility. That's my day, a lot of trying to do all the work before I see the kids so I'm not doing it while I have my time with them.
ZM: I'm going to shift over to our section that is more about community—but we've been talking about that a lot already—can you talk a little bit more about the connection you feel to the Vietnamese American community in Portland?
LN: There isn't many. But the few that I have, I really have a heart for, we may not see each other very often, but I am always rooting for them. The people that I can think of right now in this Vietnamese community are Friendship Kitchen, Trang from Friendship Kitchen. Richard and Sophia from Matta. Yoonique Tea. Kookido, so Quy. Cake Batch, Helen. Anh from Hey Chaudy. Oh, 40 LBS [Coffee] is Tuyen. All these people that are doing the hustle, we're all doing it. And it's not just them, it's everybody in this industry, we're all doing the work. And the Vietnamese community is very small. It's not just the Vietnamese community, it's all people of color. For me, it's how do I support and still check up on them? I feel like I'm their biggest cheerleader, I just want them to all succeed because if we don't, we'll just kind of die one by one. You can see it already, there are businesses here that are just closing up shop. For me, that is not an option, I want to go on my own terms. I don't wanna go because I just can't do it anymore. How do we support these communities to keep them going? Because a lot of them want to do this for the long haul. It's beautiful, I love it.
ZM: Are there any specific events that bring people together? Places where you gather?
LN: A lot of the time we are doing collabs or pop ups. It's really rare, but every once a while we happen to be at a coffee shop and see each other, and that's when we're just like, "Oh my gosh!" and we can just talk for a bit. We love that. Other than that, it's always a collab or we'll all be doing the same event.
ZM: Do you participate in any religious or community organizations?
LN: Not right now.
ZM: You talked a lot about feeling most at home in Singapore, so I am curious if there were times you have felt at home in Portland and what prompted them?
LN: Honestly, I feel very comfortable when I am with that community. I think we all know without having to say that we need each other. And that's why there is so much joy when we see each other because it's a little moment where we're reminded that we're not alone. For me, I always try to visit and support all these small businesses as much as I can. I know how it feels when I get that [support], and it's not just buying something, it's just showing up and seeing their faces that is very important. Even if it's for a split second, it's very special. So I try to do that as much as I can for myself and for them, "I got you, and I'm going to keep my eye on you. I'm going to check up on you, I'm going to support you." It's a lot of work, but you've got to put in the hard work.
ZM: On the other side of that, do you want to share any experiences of racism, discrimination?
LN: Yes and no. Normally, it's everyday. It's not always a word, it's definitely a look, or being in spaces where I am in an Asian restaurant and I'm the only Asian person, but I get the looks. We often as a family were the only Asian and got the look. And then there's been times where I'm walking with my kids on the street and we get yelled at from cars. My kids shouldn't have to experience that already, but they have, and they're aware of it. It's happened enough times where we have to talk about it. As a business owner, it's definitely a sexism and a racism thing. Being a woman of color who is trying to open a business and having to do and say things I need to say—if I was male and white it would be OK. I'm always watching what I have to say because I want to get things done. And there's sometimes where I'm talked to at a different level. I get talked to in a different tone or a different speed. Thankfully my contractor is not like that. But other vendors...I just want a table. Why is it difficult for me to find a table? I always am aware, I always have to prepare myself when I walk into those places or be in a certain place. It's just not fun, but this is where I am. It's not just being a person of color, it's being a woman of color, which makes it difficult.
ZM: In your mind, does being Vietnamese American play in your life? I know that's a really big question.
LN: I feel that there is a weird responsibility to still preserve. I tell this to people all the time, it is definitely less of me trying to push aside all the nuances that may or may not be healthy that is a part of Vietnamese culture: the loudness, the rudeness, the upfront behavior. But as I'm getting older and as I am having my own kids, I have to teach them that a little bit of it dies as each generation comes because we're not in Vietnam. So how do I preserve this the best way that I can? How do I teach them that this is just how it is? [I tell them] "You're gonna miss Auntie talking to you like that. You're gonna miss her when she's gone. This is gonna be a part of your history, your story. You may not be repetitive and grow up to be like that. But you're gonna miss it when you're gone." So how do we preserve a little bit of that chaotic atmosphere? There's been a shift of me feeling responsible and trying to preserve that for the next generation? And how much of it? And not just food, but language? My kids are just starting to learn the language now. Learning just a little bit is not an option now. Whereas we could've been just Americans, we're just going to learn English. How do I preserve it for them and give them the opportunity to make that decision for themselves? My role as a Vietnamese American is to show them how important it is, so they want to learn, so they desire to be a part of this community even though they're so far from it.
I felt like all my life I was so far from it, but as an adult I'm so thankful I can speak it with them. I'm thankful they can understand the food and understand the culture. This is thanks to my parents: they tried to assimilate, they still felt a responsibility to pass this on without us being with family. So how do I do this with my kids and preserve it? So that is my role. But also there are so many people in my position in this community, and how do I bring them back to their childhood? How do I make them feel like, "Oh, this was really a special time for me when I was a kid." I want them to dig deep into their desire—it's okay to do as an adult. That can be through food. I know so many people who are doing that now and reconnecting with their roots. And maybe still not understanding it, but being okay that they don't understand it and still enjoying finding the process and being in the process instead of feeling shameful. There shouldn't be any shame in it, it's just the way it is. Just enjoy the process in trying to search and be a part of it as an adult. That's what I want HeyDay to be. How do we bring those people who were born here and feel really disconnected, but yearning for it without having them feel bad? And food is the easiest way to do that.
ZM: This my last question for you: what differences between older and younger generations of Vietnamese Americans?
LN: Times are hard, but I'm very hopeful. Because I feel like this new generation—I don't like to use the word 'woke'—but I feel like they're more aware of where they stand, what they believe in. People always talk about this generation, I get it, I'm far from it, but I also appreciate it because each generation does hard work in different ways. I feel like this generation is definitely aware and are leaning into it unashamed. They are very aware, they are very accepting of it. How cool is it that I can give my kids a full on Vietnamese lunch and no one says anything. And everyone else is eating something from their home. That wasn't a thing for us growing up, but that in itself just tells me how far we've come, yet I know the work is still hard. I can tell that with everything that is going on in the world, we are taking steps back, but how do we support that generation? Because that is the future. How do I teach my kids to be proud of who they are? Enjoy what they're doing? Talk unashamed of their culture, their food, where they're from, their family, and be OK with it? I'm very hopeful. I'm glad and happy to be in this space right now, during this time right now, even though it sucks. There's still good coming from it.
ZM: Is there anything else that we haven't talked about that you'd like to discuss before we wrap up?
LN: No, I think we got all of it. It was good.
ZM: Great, I'll just wrap us up. Thank you so much. Again, this is Zoë Maughan and it is January 10, 2023. I am meeting with Lisa Nguyen at Ki Coffee in Beaverton.