I        Starting Over by Phuoc Tran

I was a former officer in the Republic of South Vietnam Air force. On April 30, 1975 the Communists took over Saigon, and I became a prisoner of war in a reeducation camp and a state camp for farming from 1975 to 1980. When I was released, I returned to my parents' home in Saigon (now called Ho chi Minh City.) I had lost everything, and started with empty hands.

    However, my life changed. I got married in 1984 My wife was an employee at an import and export company. I was a teacher at a middle school. In 1985, my son was born. We worked hard and waited for our chance to come to the U.S.A under a program that allowed former officers who had been in reeducation camps to emigrate. This program was called Humanitarian Operation (H.O.)

    In 1992 my family immigrated to the U.S.A and settled in San Jose. At first everything was so hard and difficult. We thought we might give up. We did not know how to apply for any government programs such as welfare or Medi-Cal. or how to apply for a driver's license or how to open a bank account. My wife and my son went to school immediately. My wife graduated with an AA degree from San Jose City College in 1996, a BA degree in 1998 and an MA degree in 2000 from San Jose State University. She is a Social Worker at Valley Medical Center and an independent French teacher. My son graduated from Del Mar High School in 2003. He now is a student at Cal Poly. He wants to be an electrical engineer to help himself and the community. I am currently unemployed. I have gone to school and I hope to get a new job in the future. In my opinion, this country offers many opportunities for everybody who wants to work and obey the laws. America is a big part of my life, but Vietnam is always in my heart. It's a beautiful country. I still have many relatives and many happy memories of my childhood there. Sooner or later, Vietnam will change. It will be a wealthy country in Asia. This is my dream.