23:19′ 22/03/2009 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Nguyen Dieu Quyen, a Vietnamese American woman living in California was selected as “Person of the Year” by the US state’s local government.

Dieu Quyen was born in Vietnam in 1978 and left the US at the age of 14. Beginning a new life in a strange country, she tried her best and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mathematics and Teaching from the University of Long Beach. Currently, she teaches at the Pacifica High School in the city of Garden Grove in California.

For the past several few years, Nguyen Dieu Quyen has been recognized as a good teacher and an active woman in social activities.

She is also a member of the management board of representatives of Vietnamese language centers for the overseas Vietnamese community in Southern California. In addition, Dieu Quyen also works as a newsreader for the local television station.

And she regularly acts as a MC for social events that are organized by the overseas Vietnamese community in California, contributing to the development and good of the community, especially as regards charitable activities.

“Dieu Quyen is really an enthusiastic humanitarian activist. She has devoted all her heart, her soul, her timetable and her talent for the community. She is worthy of receiving the “Person of the Year” honor”, stated Jose Solorio a representative for California’s 69 County, which includes the cities of Anaheim, Garden Grove and Santa Ana.

Dieu Quyen has awarded the honor in a ceremony on March 16th at California’s house of representatives.

VietNamNet/CPV

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Home is where the heart is
Mr. Mai The Nguyen is proud to recall stories about his FNL badge

Distance from one’s roots can never dim the fire in a heart committed to achieving independence for the homeland.

Although Vietnamese expatriate Mai The Nguyen spent the bulk of his life away from his native Vietnam, his contributions to the people’s cause from afar speaks volume about his dedication to the nation.

As a successful architect, Nguyen partook in designing the Norwegian Royal Palace in the 1960s in addition to the National University Library and the State Bank.

However, apart from this primary profession, he also traveled throughout northern Europe to work as an interpreter for North Vietnam’s foreign minister Nguyen Thi Binh and Prime Minister Pham Van Dong in the 1970s and led an antiwar movement in Norway to protest US involvement during the American War in Vietnam.

Nguyen now resides in Norway with his family while simultaneously tending to his duties as a member of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front.

The story of his life is one full of twists and turns.

Mother patriot

Nguyen was originally born into an affluent cloth-trading family.

His mother Vuong Thi Lai, who became a widow at age 28, worked hard to raise five children and maintain a successful clothing shop.

When the August Revolution was accomplished on September 2, 1945, Lai donated 109 taels of gold (one tael is equivalent to 1.2 oz or 37.4 g) to the government to support its initial fundraising efforts.

President Ho Chi Minh recognized her assistance by bestowing a star-shaped gold medal, that read, “With this medal, Mrs. Lai represents the enthusiasm and sacrifice of Vietnamese women.”

Lai’s contributions extended beyond this initial gesture: she gave money for the building of a paper mill and a handkerchief-making factory, provided rice to the poverty-relief aid fund, and aided the municipal security force during the hard times of 1946.

She even bequeathed to the state three houses and two lots of land located in Hanoi.

All the while, Lai’s two sons were working hard to support their studies in France.

Nguyen, at the time, labored part time as a dishwasher at a Vietnamese restaurant while in school.

After graduating from a natural science university, he continued to study pharmacy but quit prior to getting a doctoral degree, disliking the profession.

Nguyen then left France and traveled to Norway, settling into a job at an architecture agency.

He worked diligently and proved his talent, subsequently gaining admission into the most famous architecture university in Oslo.

In 1969, he completed a thesis introducing in great detail the traditional structure of ancient houses in northern Vietnam, which launched a productive career in the field.

Antiwar activist

Yet, above all that academic knowledge and professional expertise rests the expatriate’s deep concern for the Fatherland at war.

The streets of Norway overflowed with demonstrations against the American War in Vietnam, making up some of the biggest protests in Northern Europe.

The song Giai Phong Mien Nam (Liberate the South) was translated into Norwegian to sing during rallies and it became an international ballad of the time.

Nguyen usually carried a boy on his shoulder named Jens Stoltenberg – who later reigned twice as Norway’s prime minister – to attend large demonstrations in Oslo, even on the coldest days.

Later, Nguyen left his well-paid job at an architecture company and worked without pay at a communication office set up in Oslo by the Provisional Coalition Government in South Vietnam.

In those days, he resided near the Norwegian Royal Palace and his home doubled as a hearth for visiting Vietnam dignitaries.

All guests staying at Nguyen’s place were usually treated to the Hanoi pho noodles he personally cooked.

The lack of spice in the broth concocted with foreign ingredients made everyone miss the homeland even more and fortified their desire to achieve liberation.

West meets East

When he was working at the communication office, Nguyen met and married a Norwegian woman named Liv Heidrun.

The couple has lived happily together ever since in Norway with the bride even returning to Vietnam several times with her beau to learn about Nguyen’s cultural roots.

The first time his wife visited her Vietnamese mother-in-law some 20 years ago, she secretly had an ao dai (traditional Vietnamese dress) made ahead of time.

As the plane was readying to land on her husband’s native soil, she went to the washroom to change into the appropriate dress.

Wearing the foreign costume, Heidrun was tense and nervous.

She requested a cup of coffee to drink to calm down, but she was so nervous she spilled it all over the ao dai.

Upon meeting the venerable Mrs. Lai, the Norwegian bride in the Vietnamese traditional costume was speechless.

She just held her hands and cried.

Nguyen intends to spend more of his old age in Vietnam to contribute to the country’s architecture.

He is currently writing a guidebook about the past and present architecture of Hanoi to introduce its special features to international friends.

Over the past 10 years, he has flown between Vietnam and Norway at least once a year to fulfill responsibilities as a member of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front.

Each time, he has witnessed drastic changes to the city’s landscape that surprise him.

Hanoi nowadays flaunts an increasing number of high-rise buildings and Nguyen is concerned about how to shape the new architecture to complement traditional buildings.

He has found the task of reorganizing modern Vietnam more difficult than designing the Norwegian Royal Palace.

Reported by Phung Nguyen

Insuring success: One man’s story
 
Lam Hai Tuan, CEO of ACE Life Vietnam, is looking forward to bringing the best life insurance products to his fellow citizens  

A Vietnamese-American left 19 years of success in the US and returned to his homeland to fulfill his desire to provide the best possible insurance products to his fellow citizens.

 

Lam Hai Tuan started a new and independent life when he migrated to the US alone as a 15-year-old.

He has strived tirelessly and driven by a fierce determination to be a successful man in the US

“A migrant must double and even triple every effort to gain success in the US even though he is not inferior to his local colleagues at work,” Tuan said.

As he worked, Tuan’s special affinity for life insurance grew and he came to believe it was essential for everyone.

He won many awards while working for Metlife, including the prestigious “Man of the Year” title and a bronze medal from the International Insurance Association.

After 19 years with Metlife, Tuan had had a bright future with the company.

But he also saw a new challenge for himself.

He decided to leave Metlife in October 2002 to become an advisor for Prudential of America, focusing on Asian markets.

He remained at Prudential for 15 months, preparing himself for a return to his homeland.

Tuan returned to Vietnam on August 5, 2003, two years before Vietnam’s life insurance market reached two important milestones.

Realizing his goals

In 2005, during his historic visit to the US, then-Prime Minister Phan Van Khai awarded a license to Tuan’s employer, ACE Life.

The second insurance industry milestone was ACE Life Vietnam’s opening ceremony on December 2 of that year.

Now the CEO of ACE Life Vietnam, Tuan has been fulfilling his vision of setting up a 100 percent foreign-owned company with 100 percent Vietnamese staff.

“Vietnamese are not inferior to anybody in the world,” Tuan said.

“Our country has created many talents and they are tiny diamonds. The matter now is to gather them together and make it a shining jewel to maximize its inner strength.”

Based on this philosophy, Tuan recruited talented young Vietnamese staff from many different sectors.

They now work together in harmony, united behind the company motto: “creating opportunities for Vietnam’s younger generation.”

To reaffirm his commitment to Vietnam, Tuan has decided to sell all his possessions in the US as he furthers his dream of bringing in the best insurance products to his fellow-citizens in Vietnam.

And so far, Tuan seems to be finding a good measure of success.

ACE Life’s Universal Life product, launched in March 2006, was well-received by customers, with sales rising a stunning 320 percent last year.

Tuan sees the popularity of the product as a testament to customers’ trust in Vietnam’s life insurance sector.

Through his professionalism and insurance expertise, Tuan has won the respect of ACE Life Vietnam’s 4,300 account representatives.

Vietnamese culture in an American company

Tuan has stuck to his vision of running an American company, 100 percent staffed by Vietnamese with a Vietnamese spirit and culture.

The ACE Life Vietnam CEO reminds thousands of his employees every day of the ethical code of conduct in the life insurance industry.

The code ensures fairness for clients, employees, account representatives and ACE Life Vietnam.

“There is still a long way for me to go with ACE Life Vietnam and I must get it done successfully to complete my life’s desire, no matter how hard it is,” Tuan said.

Refugees no more: Vietnamese family escapes homeland on faith, finds prosperity in Virginia

By Gretchen R. Crowe
11/12/2007

Arlington Catholic Herald (www.catholicherald.com)

McLEAN, Va. (Arlington Catholic Herald) – Five-year-old Chau “Helen” Pho was the Arlington Catholic Herald’s very first cover girl.

SAFE IN THE U.S. - Chau Pho Tung was 5 years old when she fled war-torn Vietnam with her family in 1975. Now, at age 37, she is an American citizen with a family of her own, including daughter Sophie, 2. (Catholic Herald/Gretchen R. Crowe)
SAFE IN THE U.S. – Chau Pho Tung was 5 years old when she fled war-torn Vietnam with her family in 1975. Now, at age 37, she is an American citizen with a family of her own, including daughter Sophie, 2. (Catholic Herald/Gretchen R. Crowe)
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In January 1976, the little dark-eyed girl sat on the lap of then-Arlington Bishop Thomas J. Welsh as he welcomed her and other refugees of war-torn Vietnam to the Arlington Diocese. A moment captured in time, the photo of their interaction was used on the front page of this newspaper’s first issue.

Now, three decades later, 37-year-old Chau Pho Tung is no longer a refugee, but instead an American citizen with a toddler of her own.

Tung only vaguely remembers the 16 days she, her parents, and her five brothers and sisters spent in three different refugee camps as they were moved from Southeast Asia to the United States in an attempt to regain the stable life they had known in their native country.

Sitting in her parents’ McLean living room sipping Vietnamese tea, Tung recently related pieces of the story of the family’s exodus from Vietnam with the help of her father, Long Ba Pho, and her mother, Claire.

The escape

When the Phos decided to flee Vietnam in April 1975, Long and Claire told their children that they were going on a beach vacation. Tung packed up her new blocks, and under cover of night, the family made their way to Saigon and eventually to the Philippines.

At first, “Long didn’t plan to go all the way (to the United States),” Claire said with a strong Vietnamese accent. “He just planned to go to Manila and stay there until the situation calmed down and then come back.”

But the political situation in Vietnam didn’t calm down, and the Phos suddenly found themselves refugees.

For more than two weeks, the family was shuffled from Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines to Wake Island in the South Pacific to Fort Chaffee in Arkansas.

Long had been to the United States before — most notably 14 years earlier when he won a Fulbright scholarship and earned an MBA from Harvard University. This was the first trip for Tung, who had been born in the central highlands of Dalat, Vietnam.

After three days at Fort Chaffee, the family was released into the care of Long’s brother, Quan, who worked at the World Bank in Washington. To this day Long reminds his family of the day — May 7 — their plane touched down at National Airport.

A new start

Quan had rented the Phos a small house in McLean, where they slept on the floor until they got furniture, some of which was paid for by the U.S. Catholic Conference (now the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops).

Not wanting his children to skip a beat, Long immediately enrolled his five school-age children at nearby Kent Gardens Elementary School.

“My dad really wanted us to mainstream and get immersed quickly and pick up the language,” said Tung, who started kindergarten at the new American school. “I was really lucky, because it was kind of the perfect age to be transitioning. Probably six months after moving here I was pretty fluent in English.”

The transition was more difficult for her older brothers and sisters, Tung said, as well as for her parents.

“It was a struggle for my parents to resettle and then find new jobs and have us all in school,” she said.

But “little by little,” Claire said, the family began to regain its life.

They joined St. John the Beloved Church in McLean, where Long and Claire are still parishioners. Both converts to Catholicism, Claire said that it was their faith that sustained them while living as refugees.

“If we don’t have faith, I don’t know if we can survive that ordeal,” Claire said. Many refugees become bitter, she said. “They only think of what they had before. They don’t compare what they gain. My husband, he was always positive.”

Long said there was no reason not to be.

“I say to myself, we are lucky that we have our family with us,” he said. “(In the United States), we expected to be given a small piece of land where we can grow potatoes. Even with my Harvard background, I never thought of (having all) this.”

“All this” is a house and belongings that they own “free and clear,” Tung said, and six independent children — all well-educated American citizens.
From needing help to giving help: Chau’s story

The dark-eyed 5-year-old who sat on Bishop Welsh’s lap all those years ago is one of those success stories — and, in the mid-’90s, she used her education and knowledge to help other Vietnamese refugees.

After Tung graduated from Georgetown University in 1992, she got an internship with the United Nations’ development program in Laos. That led to a job with the Orderly Departure Program in Bangkok, China, where she handled cases of political refugees from Vietnam, she said. For three years, Tung assisted those to whom she could relate in the most personal way.

Tung’s parents, also, reached out over the years to many refugees — both in the United States and abroad — and Long helped establish the diocesan Vietnamese parish, Holy Martyrs of Vietnam in Arlington. He also advised many parish committees and parish councils on their work with refugees.

After Tung returned to the United States, she earned a master’s in Southeast Asian studies at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, married fellow Georgetown-alum Charles Tung and moved to the West Coast. The couple now lives in Seattle, where Charles is a professor of English at Jesuit-run Seattle University.

After working as a marketing manager for a large global transportation company, Tung said she decided to become a stay-at-home mom for her 2-year-old daughter, Sophie — something she called a “pretty drastic career change.”

Tung, though, takes all these transitions in stride, having learned about acclimation at a very young age.

Adaptation is part of the history of America, said her father. And his children, he said, should always be grateful for the opportunities given them and search for ways to offer assistance to others.

“They’re Americans now, so there is a lot of opportunity for them,” Long said. “But it’s a good opportunity to give back.”

– – –

Republished by Catholic Online with permission of the Arlington Catholic Herald , the official publication of the Diocese of Arlington, Va. (www.catholicherald.com).

 
08:10′ 28/03/2007 (GMT+7)

Soạn: HA 1066979 gi đến 996 để nhn ảnh này
Trung Dung.

VietNamNet Bridge – He wears a blue T-shirt, white pants, no tie, speaks gently and simply – that’s a sketch of 40-year-old Vietnamese American billionaire Trung Dung.

 

Trung Dung and Vietnam dream

 

Nearly two years ago, Trung Dung returned to Vietnam for the first time in over 20 years with a poor Vietnamese vocabulary. Speaking several sentences in Vietnamese, he had to use some sentences in English. Now his Vietnamese vocabulary is quite abundant and he can talk in Vietnamese completely.

 

The General Director of V-Home group, the common house of many overseas Vietnamese businessmen in the US, said: “The establishment of V-Home is the answer for our return to Vietnam to directly contribute to the country.”

 

Dung established V-Home group in 2005 to seek business opportunities in Vietnam and V-Home, according to Dung, means ‘returning home’.

 

With advantages in information technology, V-Home group is promoting projects to build trade centres in Vietnam and a financial cooperation project with a reputed local bank.

 

“I’m surveying the market. Vietnam’s potential to develop IT is very large,” Trung Dung said.

 

A simple billionaire

 

Seeing Trung Dung, nobody would think that he became a billionaire at the age of 33 and was praised by US newspapers as a legend of success among young businessmen.

 

Earning $1.8 billion by selling OnDisplay to Vignette Corporation, Trung Dung continued to invest in Fogbreak Solutions Company, which specialised in applications to optimise the production capacities of production lines.

 

In 2005, he established V-Home Group to seek business opportunities in Vietnam. Members of  the V-Home group board of directors are successful Vietnamese American businessmen.

 

Returning to Vietnam this time, Trung Dung has had chance to work with young people who were born in the 1980s.

 

“I have a high regard for Vietnam’s young people because of their intelligence, broad knowledge and self confidence,” he said.

 

Trung Dung has just received the title Vietnam’s Glory from VietNamNet online newspaper and he is now a member of the Board of Directors of the Vietnam Education Fund (VEF).

 

(Source: Tien Phong)

Vietnamese woman who 20 years ago sent her son to the U.S. sets out — with little money and barely a clue — to find him before her visa expires or her cancer returns.

By Mai Tran and Christopher Goffard, Times Staff Writers
December 19, 2006

Bay Area search

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SHE arrived in Los Angeles with $600 in borrowed cash, a failing heart and arthritis in both knees. She spoke no English. She had not seen her firstborn son, Tuan, in the 20 years since he fled Vietnam for the United States as a teenager.

Judging from the letters he sent home, he had prospered here. He was repairing watches, living in Santa Ana. Inexplicably, four years ago, his letters had stopped coming. Now, Hai Nguyen had crossed the ocean herself, hoping to find her son before she died.

She had one lead, the address in Santa Ana. She took a cab there from the airport. She went to the door to find that her son was long gone, leaving no clue behind. She shuffled away with her single suitcase, not knowing what to do next. He could be anywhere. She had no grasp of America’s immensity, though a friend who knew the country tried to warn her: It would be like finding a needle at the bottom of the sea.

Where would she start looking, in a country of 300 million strangers? Still, how could she go to her grave without trying?

So in September, a tiny 57-year-old woman began stubbornly pushing a pair of green, worn-out plastic flip-flops along the sidewalks and strip malls and alleys of Southern California, past street signs she couldn’t read and storefronts she couldn’t fathom. She didn’t have long — just a few months before her visa expired in January, maybe less before her legs buckled or her heart quit or her cancer returned. Or her money ran out.

She had a husky voice and thick, rough hands. Her skin was the deep brown of the Vietnamese poor who spend their lives in the sun. She printed fliers with Tuan’s face and stuffed them in the hands of street people and business owners and anyone who might listen.

She found her way to Little Saigon in Westminster, the country’s largest Vietnamese American enclave. There, people sympathized. They gave her couches to sleep on, bowls of soup. In their own flight from starvation and violence, many had said goodbye to their families in Vietnam, often forever. Parents cleft from children was one of the community’s defining stories. So was arrival in the States with little save hope.

But in other ways she was hardly familiar, this worn-looking woman who had single-mindedly chased hope 8,000 miles, knowing so little, and having no time to count the odds.

*

HE was 16 when she sent him to the boat. For his passage out of Vietnam, the price was two bars of gold that she spent a year buying on layaway. It was 1986, and Ho Chi Minh City was a desperate place. Everyone she knew was starving.

She knew Tuan’s escape would be risky. Once before, the scrawny, gap-toothed boy had tried to flee the country only to be seized by police and thrown into jail for six months, to return home even more haggard and emaciated than before.

Now, around midnight at a big marketplace, she handed him to the boat captain who would smuggle him away. She had packed her son a bag with three changes of clothes, sweet rice, moon cakes and lemon bars. She could tell him nothing about America — not what it looked like, not its language or customs, not its size or landmarks. She knew it only as a mythical country over the sea where people had opportunity and plump cheeks. America was, in one popular phrase, the Jungle of Money.

But it was inconceivably far, and many died on the way. She tried to hold her tears, not wanting to scare Tuan or make him hesitate. Existence had been a day-to-day struggle since 1973, when her husband, a Vietnamese army soldier, died fighting the Communists.

Orphaned of his father as a toddler, Tuan would now face life without his mother, a misfortune that a Vietnamese proverb found even more profound.

Lose your father, you can still eat a poor meal of rice with fish, the proverb went. Lose a mother, you lick the leaves littering the streets. It conjured the crumbs clinging to castoff leaves used to pack food.

But as she saw it, there was no choice. On the night they said goodbye, it was raining lightly. She kissed him and told him, I love you. Write. She watched him go. He seemed eager.

She did not know if she would see him again. She had two other children to take care of, a son and a daughter. To feed them, she peddled grain from her bicycle and fruit at the market. There was no money to send them away too, or she would have.

*

SOON Tuan’s letters started arriving. He wrote of many days at sea, of running out of food and water and then being rescued by a commercial fishing boat that took them to Malaysia. Of how he found his way to the United States, to Minnesota, which was so cold he moved on to Denver, then farther west, to Southern California.

His letters came steadily for years. He wrote that he was doing well, learning to repair watches. He said nothing to worry her. He sent a picture of himself, smiling. His muscles were thick. His cheeks were full. America had been good.

In Vietnam, where a mother’s worth is largely defined by the accomplishments of her kids, to say “I have a son in America” conferred instant pride and status. Everyone understood that fate had smiled on the family.

In 2001, doctors diagnosed Nguyen with ovarian cancer and gave her two months to live, a prediction she was able to defy with chemotherapy and surgery. Tuan sent $500 and spoke of visiting. Then his letters stopped coming. Twice, medical bills forced her to move to smaller quarters, so she thought perhaps his letters were getting lost.

A year passed without word from him, and another, then a third and a fourth. Her cancer seemed to be in remission, but her overall health was poor. She had developed a heart condition, osteoporosis, arthritis. She knew she was dying, and her final wish was to see him.

She gathered her savings, which had been meant to buy her burial plot. Her younger son, who worked as an ambulance driver, and her daughter, who sold clothes out of a small shop, scraped together loans. Finally she had $1,400, enough for a ticket to California. It was her first time on a plane outside the country. Crossing the ocean, she couldn’t eat or sleep.

*

SHE was not in America long before her money ran out. She had covered mile after mile on foot, stuffed fliers into hundreds of hands, and still there was no sign of him. At wit’s end, she pleaded with Nguoi Viet, the country’s largest Vietnamese-language paper, based in Little Saigon. It published her story and a 5-year-old picture of Tuan, the one of him smiling with full cheeks. Soon, local radio picked it up. Donations started pouring in, as well as tips.

One led her to the Westminster Police Department, where she learned two things that shocked her, upending her image of the solid, prosperous life Tuan had lived in the States. At some point, she learned, her son had been incarcerated for robbery. At another point, he had stayed at the Los Angeles Mission. That meant he had been homeless, the orphaned beggar from the proverb.

The possibility of a plummet so extreme had not occurred to her. The Vietnamese had flourished in the United States, and the community had a reputation for taking care of its own. What had happened to her son?

She took a cab to the mission, but he wasn’t there. She printed and distributed more fliers, this time offering a $1,000 reward. It was money she didn’t have, but she was desperate.

She got word that a man who looked like her son dug up recyclables in the trashcans at John Wayne Airport. For a week, she went there every day, waiting. No luck.

She had reconciled herself to the possibility that she would find him dead. But even that, she reasoned, would be some consolation, better than not knowing.

Chasing every lead, she took cabs to the Asian Garden Mall and Chinatown and across the San Gabriel Valley. She searched homeless shelters and alleys, parks and strip malls. All through the land of promise, to her astonishment, the concrete was littered with human shapes crouched under reeking blankets.

She went from shape to shape, slowly lifting the blankets off ragged, hollow-eyed faces that smelled of beer, off men with tangled hair and dirty hands. They cursed in words she couldn’t understand and yanked their blankets back, many of them, sinking back into their covers. Some just looked at her in bewilderment. She looked into dozens of hopeless faces. There were other mothers’ sons, but not hers.

Sorry, she said, over and over. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. It was one of the few English words she had learned.

She shuffled forward long after her knees burned with pain and her breath came short. When it got too bad, she would sit down on a bus bench and rest. She thought of giving up, taking a plane home to die without him. Then she would get up and keep walking.

Finally, in November, there came an improbable call from a restaurateur in San Jose, a woman named Huong Le who had seen Nguyen’s story on Vietnamese-language television. She said Tuan had been living behind her restaurant for the last couple of months at the Lion Plaza shopping center on King Boulevard. He slept on the sidewalk on a patch of cardboard.

On Nov. 19, a woman moved by her story offered her a ride from Orange County to San Jose. It was about noon when she found the restaurant. Her son wasn’t there, but restaurant employees said they had been taking care of him. When he was hungry, he’d knock lightly on the rear kitchen door and they would pass him beef noodles and rice, bread and pork. He rarely spoke, they said, and often stood completely immobile. But they found him polite, unthreatening.

Look for his blanket, they told Nguyen. It’s blue and yellow fleece. We gave it to him.

After three hours of searching, there in a parking lot across the street, she spotted the blanket. It was just another filthy shape, curled upon a sheet of blue vinyl against some bushes, beside castoff rolls of iron fencing and rusted steel bars. From the blanket protruded one shoe with a gashed sole. On the ground were takeout containers filled with rotting Vietnamese food.

She had been searching in the United States for three months, lifting blankets off men and women who had somehow fallen into its sewers. Now she knelt and lifted one more.

*

RIGHT away she knew it was him, even through his thick, tangled beard and his long, unkempt hair. He was sleeping, curled in a fetal position, and she startled him awake. She knelt, looking closer. She recognized his overbite, his eyes that were so much like his father’s, the scar on his left brow he got as a kid, jumping on a bed with his brother.

She was shaking. Looking at him, she couldn’t speak. When words came, she told him through her tears who she was and that she had come across the world to find him.

You have the wrong person, he said. You’re not my mother. My mother is sick in Vietnam and ready to die.

She begged him to let her hug him, but he refused. His only possessions were his blanket, a windbreaker, a pocketknife, and 69 cents.

Why would you want to hug a homeless man? he said. Wouldn’t you be ashamed?

She planted herself on the pavement, refusing to budge. Afraid he would run away, she grabbed his collar and held him. He kept saying, Let go of me, woman. But she had not flown 8,000 miles and walked for three months to go home without him.

She talked the restaurant into calling the police, hoping they would hold him.

They took him to the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center for observation in the psychiatric unit. They shaved him and cleaned him and gave him a room.

She came every day, to sit with him. He said little. Mostly he sat slouched forward, staring at the floor, his hands folded in his lap. He seemed to recognize her but would not acknowledge it. Perhaps he just could not grasp the improbability of a poor woman from Vietnam coming to find him in a land so large.

When he did speak, he told of having been chased by men who meant to harm him. She did not know what it meant, whether it was a real memory or part of what doctors called his mental illness. They had diagnosed him with an unspecific psychotic disorder.

There were details of his time in the United States that she didn’t ask about. So she would not learn that in 1995, he and several other men had burst into an Arcadia home and used a rope to tie up a man and his wife before making off with their cash and jewelry. That police had labeled him a gang member. That a judge had sentenced him to 10 years in state prison, though he was released in five. That he went to prison three more times on parole violations, finally going free in January.

I’m nobody, he kept saying. You don’t want anything to do with me.

Hoping to break through, she brought him photos of his brother and sister back in Vietnam, of aunts and nieces and nephews. She spoke of taking him home to Vietnam. She did not dwell on whether such a trip was even possible. She had to return in January, when her visa expired. It was not clear whether authorities would let him go too.

For now, though, she had arranged a place for them to stay, at the Cao Dai Temple in San Jose, when the hospital released him.

She ran her hand up and down his back and promised she wouldn’t leave him. She would take care of him from now on. She told him that it didn’t matter to her, whatever had happened, whatever he’d done. She blamed herself for sending him across the world with no one to watch over him.

Five days had passed since she rescued him from the streets, and all he would call her is “aunt,” a generic Vietnamese term for an older woman, not necessarily of blood relation. Now, he spoke a word she had not heard him utter in 20 years.

Mother.

*


mai.tran@latimes.com

christopher.goffard@latimes.com

 
15:52′ 21/04/2006 (GMT+7)

Soạn: AM 758385 gi đến 996 để nhn ảnh này
Trung Dung.

VietNamNet – “This is a talented and very special man!” That’s the first thing I heard about Trung Dung, and it made me curious.

 

As a habit, the first address I search to satisfy my curiosity is Google. Surprisingly, the first search result I saw was the Wikipedia page, the most popular electronic encyclopedia in the world.

 

Apart from a photo of Trung Dung is brief information: born and grew up in south Vietnam and migrated to the US at the age of 17; the founder and managing director of two big software companies in the US, On Display Inc., and Fogbreak Software; earned the Gold Torch award for outstanding Vietnamese-American at the annual congress of the Vietnamese-American community held in Washington D.C in 2004.The story of Trung Dung’s life and career has been published in many famous newspapers: Forbes, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle. He is also one of the 17 examples of success for immigrants in the US listed in Dan Rather’s book “The American Dream”.

 

I also found a series of results on Google about this young man: one of the most successful young Vietnamese-American businessmen in the US, the founder and member of the management board of the DICentral Software Company, the outstanding person of the legal organisation on immigration and an honourary member of many Vietnamese-American associations in the US.

 

“I have a dream…”

 

The road to success for Trung Dung was up and down. He came to the US with only $2 in his pocket and did not know any English. At that time he was only 17.

 

More than 20 years later, sitting in the living-room of VietNamNet, he is a ‘big boss’ in Silicon Valley. He owns two big software companies worth billions of US dollars. Before our eyes is a simple and calm man, who has a deep, warm voice and humble manner. These may be the characteristics that have not changed much since he came to the US.

 

“Luck is a very important factor. But the more important factor is one must have a real dream and know what he wants to do. Martin Lurther King had a famous statement – ‘I have a dream’. I think all of us should have a dream and try to pursue it, and hope that one day we can realize it.”

 

The greatest dream for Trung Dung, the 17-year-old student, at that time, might have been escaping from poverty by getting a university diploma.

 

Though Dung’s English was modest, his knowledge of mathematics and natural sciences helped him get into Massachusetts University. Not squandering the opportunity, he studied very well though he had to do many jobs – he was a waiter in restaurants, a cleaner at hospitals, etc. –  to have money to pay school fees, to maintain his life and send money to his family in Vietnam.

 

Graduating from Massachusetts University, Trung Dung continued his studies and obtained a Doctorate of Computer Sciences, and then found a stable job in a software firm in Massachusetts.

 

He could have been satisfied with what he had, but realizing that there was an opportunity to develop his idea on network business, Trung Dung gave up his job to follow his new dream – giving up an opportunity to have assets of shares worth US$1mil.

 

OnDisplay, Trung Dung’s first software company, was based on a very simple concept: producing a software product to process information from other websites, then re-clarifying the information to convenience users. As the first person to suggest the idea, and being inexperienced in the business world, Trung Dung was refused by many investors.

 

In its most difficult hour, OnDisplay caught the eye of an expert in e-commerce, Mark Pine, the managing director of an important division of Sybase, a big data management software company. “I see potential in Trung Dung and believe in him,” he said, after he met Trung Dung for the first time.

 

Mark Pine agreed to work as the managing director of OnDisplay. Two week later, the value of OnDisplay soared. This company quickly had over 80 clients, including the big e-commerce and e-portal service company, Travelocity. OnDisplay also cooperated with IBM and Microsoft and newly emerging firms like Ariba, BroadVision and CommerceOne.

 

In 2000, a group bought OnDisplay for $1.8bil.

 

However, Trung Dung’s dream wasn’t finished. Moving to California, the cradle of technology in the US, the young man invested in his second company, Fogbreak Solutions, which specialised in applications to optimise the production capacities of production lines. Fogbreak was invested in by big firms as Matrix Partners, Greylock and Sigma Partners.

 

Luck was an indispensable factor on the road to success for this overseas Vietnamese, but there is one thing that we can’t deny. This is the ‘luck’ of the ones who have broad vision, character, work hard, and know how to grasp opportunities.

 

This is the first time Trung Dung has returned to Vietnam since he left the country in 1984. “I’m very happy and really surprised. I’ve heard that Vietnam is developing very fast and has changed much but I couldn’t have imagined the extent of development and changes in the country”.

 

Seeing with his own eyes the changes in Vietnam, Trung Dung is not only proud but also has hopes and expectations. “This time I returned to Vietnam to determine the potential of the software industry, the Vietnamese market in general and investment opportunities. Though I am only staying here for a short period of time, I feel the energy of a busy and bustling life in Vietnam. Investment opportunities are not only in the hi-tech industry but in other fields,” he said.

 

“The issue that overseas Vietnamese businessmen like me attach importance to is the laws on investment and economics. The clearer they are, the easier it is for us. This is more important than preferential policies because preferential policies are temporary,” he added.

 

Trung Dung reads Vietnamese newspapers very often and pays special attention to economic issues, especially the equitisation of state-owned enterprises. “This is a very important move for our economy and it also creates opportunities for people like me”.

 

However, the road of return for this successful businessman is not limited to business. “There are many things I want to do to help Vietnam. In the future I will assist the education sector, especially primary and secondary education. This field of investment is not for profit. It is a serious task requiring serious thinking to change the social environment,” he said.

 

Trung Dung has begun investing in Vietnamese education by joining the management board of the Vietnam Education Fund (VEF).

 

When you left Vietnam in 1984, did you think that one day you would return like this? he was asked. Of course, he answered unhesitatingly. “I knew that I would return. I was just not sure when I would have an opportunity”.

 

Looking into his eyes, I understand his next dream is the dream of Vietnam, the dream of return.

 

Khanh Ngoc