[The interview takes place at Vinh Wong’s restaurant Pho Van Fresh. The space is busy with employees getting ready to open for the day.]
HC: It is December 6th, 2018. I’m Hannah Crumme here with Lucy Hamill, and we’re meeting with Vinh Wong. Thank you so much for meeting with us. First, could you start off by giving us an overview and summary of your life in Portland, and where you were born, and how you got here.
VW: I was born in Vietnam. Both my parents are Chinese. I was born in 1969. In 1978, my family decided to come to America. Actually, that wasn't a choice. They decided just to leave Vietnam. We, my family and my uncle and my aunt, we all decided to put together the funds and to build a boat. We did build a boat, and we travelled for three nights and four days, and we arrived in Malaysia in 1978. We were there for nine months. There was a family from Lake Oswego, Oregon in the church group who sponsored us over. In 1979, on August 15th. We arrived in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and since then my family has stayed in Portland. We didn't go anywhere, and we are all still here as of today. Looking back, it's been almost forty years. This is home. Portland is home.
HC: Why did you choose Portland specifically, it's because your sponsor is here?
VW: Yeah, at that point we -- my dad and my mom -- wanted to come to America. But when we were in Malaysia there were a lot of interviews. We could have gone to Australia, we could have gone to France, we could have gone to America. My parents always had it in their minds that they wanted to come to the U.S.. That process took longer than any of the other countries. We waited and we waited because we wanted to come to America, so we waited for nine months. It split my Dad’s family apart. My Dad’s family, his brother and two sisters, they decided they didn't want to stay too long in Malaysia. They decided to go to Australia. Our family split up. My family arrived, like I said, in 1979 with the help of this family, amazing family, from Lake Oswego and the church group. That’s how we arrived. Being here for thirty-nine years, we're so lucky to have chosen to live in Portland, Oregon. I would not choose any other state.
HC: How come?
VW: I just love Portland so much. To me I think it's easy. It has everything that you want, and it is still a very good sized city that is not over congested, and you still can get around. Although, it is getting worse.
HC: Can you tell us more about the people who sponsored you?
VW: It was a church group from Lake Oswego. She has a daughter and a son. Her name is Louis Lane. The kids were very similar in age to us. I came from a family of eight, so my mom and dad and their six kids, I'm the second oldest. So her kids were probably a year or two older than I was. I was seven or eight, and the kid was ten. So we just played around for the whole summer. We arrived in August, and we got along really well. We remained in touch for many, many years. They came over for holidays, and we went to their home for Thanksgiving and Christmas and also Halloween. Up to perhaps fifteen, maybe ten years ago, we don't see each other as much. Everyone has gotten older. Since then my mom has passed away too. So we aren't in touch as much. We are very, very grateful for them.
HC: Do you know why they chose to sponsor you?
VW: I think it went through a process. I don't know the details of that process. All we knew is that they were presented with different families, and we were the family that they picked.
HC: Why were your parents so interested in coming to America?
VW: In Vietnam, even now, if you were to ask anybody, even now or forty years ago, which country would you like to live in? Everybody in Vietnam would say America. America has such a huge impact in the world. Everyone thinks that America is great. And it is a great country. My Mom and Dad, back then, they always thought that coming to America was the only country that they wanted to come to. They gave up a lot for that. They gave up their livelihood there, their land, their businesses. Just for the six of us to have a great life in America.
HC: That brings us back to some of your stories of immigration. What part of Vietnam was your family from?
VW: My family, their main home was in Ho Chi Minh city, but back then it was called Saigon. The reason my grandparents moved from China to Vietnam -- I think the forties -- was because they came from a family in South China that makes tea and coffee beans, so my grandfather decided to go to Vietnam where they found this part of Vietnam. And the climate is very similar climate to China , it is cooler in a city called Da Lat. There is another city close to Da Lat, about an hour drive, it is called Bao Loc. My parents decided that's where there home was going to be. Because they were a family of tea planters and also coffee planters. That’s where I was born.
HC: They left Vietnam in 1978 for Malaysia. How did they gather the money to build the boat?
VW: My family has a few businesses, and they decided to give up everything to the government. Back then, in '78, there were two groups of refugees. One was that you got out of Vietnam illegally, and one of them is legally. Legally is the one we did, we took that route. Legally meaning that you had to sign a piece of paper, and give up everything that you have. Your land, and your homes, and your businesses. My parents gave all that up, but they did have some savings, so they called their brothers and sisters, and said hey, we want to leave Vietnam. They put all of their money together, and built a boat. That wasn't easy. We were on this boat for three nights and four days. It's not a sure thing, but they were willing to take that risk. That reminds me now of what is happening in Europe. All of the refugees from Africa who want to come to Europe. It is like history repeats itself, right?
HC: Yeah. Let’s talk more about Portland. What were your first impressions of Portland?
VW: This is going to be funny. [Laughs] But, very white. I think coming from Vietnam where it was very loud and a very bustling city. For my parents -- and I still have some memories of that -- but coming straight from Vietnam to Malaysia, you know, Malaysia is very similar. But from Malaysia to Lake Oswego, still now it is very white, right? I think for us kids we adapted very quickly, and made friends, but I think it was very hard for my parents. Because back then, there were no Asians around. They were very sweet. They somehow found this young lady who was Vietnamese in 1979, and I think she was still a student, and she was able to translate for us. She was the first Asian person that we met in Portland for many months.
HC: How did that make you feel as a child?
VW: I think it helped my parents a lot. Back then, when my parents came over, there were no Asian grocery stores. Asians eat a lot of rice, and I remember my mom and dad telling a story like all they wanted was rice. Back then it was really hard to find the rice that they liked, the long grain rice. We survived, and we stayed with [our sponsors] for a couple of months in Lake Oswego. They finally found us a home in Eastmoreland Portland. We had a place to stay, three bedrooms. My brother and I shared a bedroom, and my two sisters had a bedroom, and my mom and dad had a bedroom. That worked out great. We all went to school after that, because we came over August 15th, and school started a month later. It was very different, and we had to learn English very fast. I remember that we were always in different programs, I was in ESL. I met a young lady in class, and we bonded and she was the one who taught me English.
HC: She was also in ESL?
VW: No, she was American. Bobby-Joe was her name. I had so much fun with her, and we just hung out a lot and she taught me English. I am very grateful for her.
HC: What school were you in?
VW: First, I think we went to Woodstock. We went to a few schools. Duniway, and then we went to Sellwood. After Sellwood, I went to Cleveland High School. From there, I graduated and went to Oregon State University. I majored in nutrition, and a minor in hotel management. Now I have my restaurant.
HC: It sounds like your majors went more directly into your ultimate career than a lot of people’s do.
VW: Actually I wanted to stay with health, but then I found that kind of boring. I wanted to work for myself.
HC: That is great. Why don’t we use that as a segment into how you started your restaurant?
VW: Accidentally, actually. This is one thing that you never go, “Oh yeah this is what I want to do.” But I met my best friends in college senior year, Lam and Elizabeth Van, they were seniors in college at Portland State and I was a senior at Oregon State. Oregon State and Portland State decided to have the Vietnamese Student Association graduating class meet together in a hotel lobby. I drove up that weekend in 1992, and I went to this event, and met Lam and Elizabeth. It was one of those moments when you just met somebody, and you gravitate toward each other. We became instant friends. We all graduated, and we were doing our own thing. I was working in the hospital for a little bit, and Elizabeth was doing her sales stuff. Then Lam's parents decided to open a restaurant in 1992. And she wanted to do a Pho restaurant because she had this passion. Lam, his mom and dad and his brother, did the restaurant. I was just hanging out for a while, I was helping out for a little bit at the beginning. With that, I was just helping out and then finally it became a part time job. I was still working my other job, the hospital job, for like forty hours a week. My hours became sixty hours a week. I decided to give up my full-time job, and decided to join the restaurant in 1992.
HC: Where was the first restaurant? I know that you have a couple branches now.
NW: We have a couple restaurants. The first restaurant was located on Northeast Glisan on 82nd. We were probably back then the second or the third Vietnamese Pho restaurant in town. And I'm happy to say, I think we are the only one that is still around after twenty-six or twenty-seven years now. We are still owned by the same family. Other restaurants are still around, but they have sold to other people. We've been around for a while.
HC: What do you think lead to that success?
VW: Family value. We still have the passion for it. We still love what we do. I think this applies to anything that you do. If you still love what you do, and enjoy it, and it still provides the life that you want it to. You make that happen.
HC: What specifically allowed you to keep your energy for the restaurant?
VW: Having a restaurant is very difficult, not only surviving this long, I think we were able to make changes with the times. Keep it relevant. Keep up with time. You don't change the recipe, but you have specials. You do renovations. You advertise. Just keep relevant, I think that is one way to keep your restaurant alive. I think one of the most important things is that we are still around, and we still love what we do. We want to keep this going, because I think without the passion we would have given up a long time ago.
HC: How has your relationship with the Vietnamese community has changed over time? It sounds like you grew up in an area that was quite a white part of Portland, while you were college you started engaging more closely with the Vietnamese community?
VW: No, earlier, when I went to Oregon State, back then there were still not that many Asians. That is why I did the Vietnamese club, so I could meet more Vietnamese people. For me, it wasn't just meeting them, I was losing the ability to speak Vietnamese. I felt like I needed some help, I needed an outlet where I could meet people, and I could practice my Vietnamese. That was one, and that led to the restaurant. Now, the restaurant has led me to meeting a lot of Vietnamese people. Half of my kitchen staff are Vietnamese people, so that also helped me with my Vietnamese and helped me stay in touch with Vietnamese culture. The family still goes to Vietnamese church on Sandy Boulevard. That's how we keep in touch with the community, and also give back to the community.
HC: Were you involved with Our Lady of La Vang before going to college? Were your parents involved with it?
VW: So I'm not Catholic, but Lam's family is Catholic. After so many years, I actually became part of their family too. They do go to church a lot, especially Lam's parents. But his dad passed away like a year ago. His mom still goes a lot. I go in support. I meet other people, and so of course you always run into the people that support you throughout the year at the restaurant. They come in, and it's nice to see them and say hi to them and catch up with how they are doing. What are the kids up to you know? And then shock, to my surprise, the kids are in college [Laughs].
HC: I'm interested in how the restaurant has engaged with the Vietnamese community, as well as the white communities and the other communities here. 82nd is where your first restaurant was.
VW: I'm very proud of what we have accomplished. Opened our first restaurant in '92. I think for that, it is already exposing our culture and our food to Portland, because the thing is I think what's a better way of exposing your culture than food, right? That is how people bond. I think for us it was to open the first restaurant, and kind of let people know what pho is. Because we love pho. This soup is so good, how come there aren't that many restaurants? We took the first step, which was to open a pho restaurant, and expose that to Portland. That opened so many doors, you know meet so many people. From that we closed that first location out, and we bought the piece of land still close on 82nd close on Division. It is about a block north of Southeast 82nd & Division. That is still our Flagship today. I think that has brought so many people together, not just Vietnamese people. Korean, Thai, Laos, and also of course Portland -- I'm referring to Caucasians that come to the restaurant. Since then we have opened one in the Pearl, which is where we are now, and we also have another one out in Beaverton, Southwest Beaverton. I think the word pho, twenty-seven years later it has become a household name. We are very proud of that, just introduce that to Portland. Since then too, many Vietnamese restaurants have opened. I think culturally Portland has become very diverse.
HC: Has your restaurant changed at all as you opened new locations, or as your clientele grew?
VW: Our clientele grew for sure. We have a great following. And we have a lot of people that are very loyal to Pho Van. We are very grateful for that. For the twenty seven years that everyone has supported us, we don't change. The recipe has stayed the same since day one. We have kept our recipe, and we make sure that everything that we make we weigh everything out. And make sure that everything is consistent. We have not changed anything. The only thing that changes, we are getting older. But we are still here, and we still want to keep this going.
HC: I want to ask more questions, and Lucy is very aware that I have gotten very off script. I want to ask more questions about your parent's early experience of food and your early experience of food when there wasn't as much access to Asian food, and not as many Asian grocery stores. How did that affect your parents over time? Obviously it would have been a thing they encountered when they first came. Did the right kind of rice become available? Did they have to travel to get what they wanted? How did they cope with that?
VW: Good question. As a child I remember it was hard for them. For us, the six of us, the kids it was easier. Actually the first thing that we fell in love with -- shockingly -- was hamburgers and fried chicken. To this day I still love those two items. For my parents, I think it was hard for them. They were not able to find the ingredients that they wanted, but they made it work. I think Vietnamese people are very driven as an immigrant in this country. If they can’t find the stuff, you know people have started their own business and they start to import stuff. I remember going to the first Asian groceries out on Powell many years ago. I think it is called An Dong market on 60th and Powell. It was a a little shop, and since then we have many many shops. As of today you can pretty much get anything that you want. Even the fruit that you want in Southeast Asia, you know rambutan and mangos and stuff like that. Pretty much now there is no shortage of anything. I was also very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Vietnam quite a bit. I could compare what Vietnam and what America like, you know the only thing is culturally. But food wise, you can pretty much get anything here now.
HC: What are the differences in culture that you've noticed?
VW: Of course in Vietnam its still very different compared to living in Portland. Portland is a lot quieter, and in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh city is I think a population of either eighteen or nineteen million. Already that's a lot of people, and it’s very humid, and there's a lot of motorcycles driven around. It is just a lot of people, just very noisy, very loud, and everywhere you go it's just a lot of people. Compare that to Portland? Portland is a much quieter, and weather wise it is much more comfortable, I guess.
HC: Were there ways your parents remained engaged with the Vietnamese community beyond food? Did they have places they went to meet other Vietnamese people, or events that brought them together?
VW: My parents are Chinese. They have a Chinese club that they go to. Even now, my dad, who is retired, every Sunday he meets a group of retired men in Chinatown and they play cards. They play games. After that they have a lunch, Chinese food of course. They do that every Sunday, I think that's very nice. But before that they were always, always involved in meeting with their friends, cooking together, eating together, you know just keeping that culture alive. Because English is not their first language it is always nice for them to meet somebody, to express themselves in Vietnamese, or also in Chinese.
HC: Is their primary language Vietnamese or Chinese?
VW: My dad's primary is Chinese. I still speak Chinese with him but I also speak fluent Vietnamese too. When I hang out with my friends, I know some of my caucasian friends find this very annoying and very rude, because I go back and forth between the two. That’s not trying to be rude, but that’s just me trying to still keep Vietnamese alive and also Chinese alive. Whenever I get a chance with Lam and Elizabeth we go back and forth. But before I do that, I make an announcement to my friends, “Hey, we’re gonna go back and forth.” [Laughs] “But nothing rude here, nothing is being said behind your guys’ back.” Just me practicing Vietnamese.
HC: Do you, in Portland, do you engage primarily with the Vietnamese community or do you engage as well with the Chinese community? How has your experience been different as a person of Chinese descent, but who has come from Vietnam?
VW: Growing up I do both. Especially around the Lunar New Year. That is the biggest holiday for Vietnamese people and Chinese people. So we engaged in that a lot. We would go to a space that is rented and they put up a very elaborate party for everybody, a celebration. There would be food. And, I think food, again, is what got everybody together. There was food everywhere. I remember going with my mom and dad, and they would have Chinese games, and they would have singing all in Chinese and Vietnamese too. Hangout and play your childhood games that you're familiar with. Little things like that. It’s still going on. Of course now it is bigger and bigger. I think now it is taking place at the convention center, which is huge. That is another way of keeping that alive, and passing that on to the kids that were born in this country. To tell them this is what we do for New Year, this is the game that we play, and they tell stories, and they sing songs that we used to grow up with. Now I have friends all over, and so I hang out with everyone. Vietnamese, Chinese, and also my American friends.
HC: Speaking of race. What's your experience with race, or racism, or dynamics around race in Portland?
VW: Even though at the beginning I said Portland is very white, I think Portland is an exceptional city in terms of that I'm very lucky, and my family too -- I can only speak for myself -- that I have not experienced any discrimination. I think it is just the way of how I pick and choose my friends. Also, I have picked the neighborhood I lived in. But I have not experienced that, and I am very grateful for that. But I also have heard many stories that people have been discriminated against. People, like in terms of my Asian friends, so I'm sure that happens too. I think Portland is a great city. I think just in Portland itself, people are more open-minded, and they have travelled a lot, and I think that tells because I don't experience any discriminations. Pretty much everyone is pretty open-minded and wanting to learn and listen to what you have to say. Also, just want to be your friends.
LH: You mentioned feeling in college feeling like you were losing your Vietnamese culture. Could you talk a little bit more about that, and how that impacted your childhood and college experience in Portland?
VW: I remember the only time I could speak Chinese or Vietnamese is at home. Going to Woodstock school -- predominately white -- and from that I went to Sellwood -- also predominantly white -- I actually didn't meet my Asian friends until I went to high school. And Cleveland is in Southeast Portland, and that is most Southeast Asian people live there, and that was literally the first time in my life that I made Asian friends. What was nice about that was that I was able to speak Vietnamese to them, and also practice. From that I graduated, and went to Oregon State, and I feel like I lost that part of my life again. Because, at Oregon State I lived in a dorm, and it was mostly also white people. I didn't really meet anyone, because most of my friends from high school went to other colleges. They went to Portland State. I feel like Oregon State, I again needed to make more Asian friends. That didn't take long. I was able to meet with people. I joined, it was like an ESL group, but I forgot what the name of the group now is called. It is called differently. And that's how I met some of my Asian friends again. They are Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, and also Chinese. So we all bonded and hung out for a while, for four years. In second year I moved out from the dorm, and me and my Korean friends, three of us, decided to be roommates. I always wanted to be around my Asian friends even though I am very comfortable around my white friends too, but I think it will be easier in terms of like food. You know, that was like twenty something years ago. Like hey I want to cook this at home, you know exactly what i'm making instead of asking hey what is that. I think that was the main reason. We also get along very well.
HC: How was the experience of living in Corvallis versus living in Portland?
VW: That was also very different. Going from a bigger city to a smaller city. But, I think it was good for me, because it didn't have a lot of things to do back then and so the only way you can get away from Corvallis is to go to the coast. To go to like Newport, Seaside, I love that. But it actually made me study more, because there aren't that many distractions that you can do, so I liked that in terms of it kind of like made me more of a homebody, and just study.
LH: Was it important for your parents to pass on the Vietnamese and Chinese culture?
VW: Oh my goodness. For sure. A hundred percent. I remember going to school, and coming home and speaking English to my siblings, and my mom and dad go I want you guys to speak Chinese at home. I don't want you to speak English at home you can do that in the morning or the afternoon or whatever. Back then you always hated them for that, and go why are they doing this, but now looking back you are so grateful for that. My parents always want to keep the culture alive. Even today, my dad still prefer Asian food over American food.
HC: Is he pleased about your being in a restaurant that is also keeping that alive?
VW: Yeah, my dad and my mom back then, they never really pressured us into doing things as long as we were happy and as long as we could make a living.
HC: What have siblings gone on to do?
VW: I have an older sister, she was working for a while and now she -- she is two years older than I am -- she retire since she turned forty-five. She married pretty young, she got married at I think 23, and a year later she had a daughter Annie. And Annie went to college and graduated and also go married pretty young too, like when I say young I mean before 25. To me that is young. And she also has kids, so my sister now is a grandmother of three, and I think she could not be happier. So, she retired and she helps Annie, my niece, take care of the three kids. I have a younger brother who is a year younger than I am who is a dentist. I have a sister after Chad, she never worked. She married and she had two daughters and then she raised them, and now she volunteers in the school. I have a brother who works for Intel. And I have the youngest brother who is also married, and has three boys. He is a realtor.
HC: And they're all in Portland still?
VW: They all live in Portland, and we see each other maybe once a week.
HC: That's lovely, what brings you all together as a family?
VW: Food. [Laughs] They come to the restaurant and eat here. That's what brings us together. Since my mom passed, you know I think mom is always the glue to the family. Right? To keep the culture alive, to cooking, hey what are you doing? come over. I think when my mom was around she was very good at doing that, and since my mom passed, my dad is not so good at doing that. I think we lost some of it, but since I'm the second oldest, I always text my siblings, “Okay hey, you know, we should meet this week.” But still it's hard to get everyone together because everyone has a full-time job and they have kids and the kids have activities, and they have school. So it is very difficult, so the only day to get together sometimes is Saturday night. We meet here, and they all eat and the food has still kept us together.
HC: As a family, what are you and your siblings doing — if you're doing anything — to keep the Vietnamese culture alive for the next generation?
VW: We tell stories. I think the kids these days forget how we got here. Going back to the interview’s beginning -- the story I was telling you -- we tell those stories to them. How we got here. To make sure that they don't forget it. How we were in Vietnam, we built a boat, my mom and dad were working two jobs to give us food on the table. Those kinds of stories will keep the tradition alive, and the culture alive. A year and a half ago, me and my brother Chad and my brother Quinn, we took the boys to Vietnam. I hired a driver with a van that takes twelve people, and we drove to the home town that we grew up in, that we were born in. Just for them to see that, and to connect the dots. All they heard from us was stories, and now they could put the stories into pictures. Oh yeah, okay remember where I told you where we were born? This the city we were born in. So we did that for them.
HC: How did it affect them?
VW: They enjoyed it. They really loved it. I asked them again, once Lam would say hey do you want to go back and see that again? And the answer was yes. That tells me that they did enjoy it.
HC: Did they go to any of the language schools?
VW: My brothers put their kids through Chinese school, but it didn't really help. It takes practice, and it takes speaking to one another too. They did take the class, but I think they could listen to it more than replying in Chinese. When I ask them something in Chinese they understand it, but they always reply back in English.
LH: How did your experience immigrating from Vietnam to here, differ from your parents' experience?
VW: I think it was hard for them. They were already in their thirties. Not only that you're in your thirties, but that you have a life in Vietnam. My mom has a restaurant, my dad did the tea and coffee. They had help from the six of us. They had their own life, and I think it was really hard for them because they came over and they didn't have a job. And not only did they not have a job, but they didn't speak English, so they had to learn that too. They also had to find jobs to keep six of us alive, put food on the table and also provide clothing for us. I think for the kids, we were very lucky in the term of like we were not so much older. We were not eighteen, we were not twenty. We were all under the age of ten. For all of us, we were able to adapt so quickly. Learning English so quickly, making friends so quickly. Even though we craved for Asian food, we were able to adapt to American food very easily. And I can speak for all of my brothers and sister, that was very easy for us. We didn't even miss a beat, but for my parents it was very hard.
HC: How did they find jobs?
VW: They pick up anything. My sponsors in Lake Oswego, they were able to find my dad a job at this pharmaceutical company and that was his first job. With that, my dad found his second job at a Chinese restaurant. So he was cooking for that for many years at night time. I remember going to the restaurant to visit him, because he was so late getting home. It was nice to just visit him and see him.
HC: So your parents have a huge history in restaurants as well?
VW: Yeah, my dad worked part time at a restaurant and full time at a pharmaceutical company.
HC: And your mother had a restaurant in Vietnam?
VW: My mom had a restaurant in Vietnam, but since she came to America she did not have a restaurant. She did not want to do anything with a restaurant because she knows how hard that is to run a restaurant.
HC: An interesting thing that you may have some insight into—although I don't know—have you visited other Vietnamese or Chinese communities in the U.S.? Do you observe any differences between Portland and communities in California or in Seattle or anywhere else?
VW: In California, mainly, California has a huge Vietnamese community. Especially in Los Angeles. There is a town, I don't know if you have been, it is called Little Saigon. Even on a freeway when you drive, the exit says Little Saigon. Actually I have visited that, and to me it is amazing. You know how all these people immigrate to this country and now have started this little town -- well not so little anymore -- this town, and literally it is like replica of Ho Chi Minh City. Literally, the shops, they have cafe shops for the kids to hang out. They have pretty much everything you can get in Vietnam. To me that is quite amazing. For me, I don't go there as often, but when I do it feels like I am in Vietnam. To me, it's always fun just to eat the food that you always crave for. It is kind of bringing you back to your childhood in a way. That was always a fun trip to take, and it's only a few hours from here. It's not so far away from Portland.
HC: So it feels different from Portland in that in Portland...
VW: Actually, I have some friends that have moved to Portland, and have since moved back to Los Angeles for that reason. Especially the older people, you know the people who retire. They feel like it's something that they need, they could walk to it, they could find food that they're familiar with, and food that they enjoy, and also they feel like they need a sense of community where they could hang out, people their age hanging out. Also, the weather down there is much nicer, it reminded them of Vietnam, it is warmer. They don't get the cold we get in Portland. I have friends, and their parents have moved to California for that reason.
HC: Do you feel like the Vietnamese community has any political questions, either locally or nationally that they are particularly concerned with?
VW: Interesting. I don't talk about politics a lot even though I'm very political myself. In terms of my friends, that is something that is very sensitive. I feel like most Vietnamese people are leaning toward Republicans, but now with the social equality and all that stuff becomes such a mainstream, I think a lot of them are in-between. They are not so much Republican, they are not so much Democratic. I feel like they always have a good heart, they will support that for that reason. I feel like now, with the new administration, it has become such ugliness in this country. Especially our border countries like Mexico, and also south of the border. Immigration has become such a huge issue. Being an immigrant in this country, speaking for me and most of my friends, we are so grateful for the immigration policy, otherwise we would have never gotten here. It is so sad for us to see that daily on the news when people apply for asylum they are not able to do it. To me, that is sad. With that said, I think I can speak for most Vietnamese people, that they are leaning toward Democratic, because they want to help social issues.
HC: Are there any local issues that affect the Vietnamese community in Portland specifically?
VW: No, I think Vietnamese people in general are very open-minded. They are willing to learn, they are willing to accept, and I think with that they are able to be so successful in Portland. They are able to send their kids to school, to college, and now they have graduated, they all have given back to Portland. Not only to Portland, but to the state of Oregon, you know? Like they became health care workers, and also lawyers, engineers, and people like me. I went to college and now I have restaurants. I think with that they are very open-minded and able to succeed in life.
HC: Is there anything else that you want to tell us, that we haven't asked you yet?
VW: No, I'm very proud of the Vietnamese community in Portland. I think everyone has done a great job in terms of contributing, where they came from, and also giving back. They have done so much for Portland, and I'm sure all want to say thank you to Portland too and to Oregon.
HC: That's great. Thank you again for meeting with us. Your story has been great, this has been a great oral history. Again, I am Hannah Crumme, this is Lucy Hannah
VW: And I'm Vinh Wong
HC: And you're Vinh Wong, and we have been meeting at
VW: Pho Van Fresh restaurant
HC: On the sixth of December 2018. Thank you very much.
VW: Thank you