Welcome to your guide to the Vietnamese-American Community in Portland, OR!

15 Jan


Imagine being 17 and having to walk away from your home, family, friends, and everything you’ve ever known. It’s the spring of 1975 and the Communists have just taken over South Vietnam. For months now, your parents have been encouraging you to leave the country to find a better future for yourself and you have finally mustered up enough courage to begin your escape. Your first plan is to travel by foot through the jungles of Laos to get to Thailand. However, after losing contact with people in Laos, you decide to pay 100 ounces of gold to get onto a boat that will sail you to Malaysia. Unfortunately, after 8 hours out on the sea, the costal guard catches your boat and you find yourself detained in prison for the next 10 months. After at least another 10 unsuccessful attempts to escape, you finally make it to the shores of Malaysia only to meet the Malaysian police. Captured and beaten by the police, you spend the next month eating nothing but coconuts on the beach. Thankfully, the United Nations was able to make a deal with Malaysia to allow you to be admitted to a nearby refugee camp in Pulau Bidong, populated with more than 35,000 people on an island less than four kilometers in diameter. For the next year you work as a French tutor until the United Nations sponsor you to travel to America, of which, you land in Portland, OR with nothing but the clothes on your back. It was the happiest day of your life.

Since approximately 78.7% of the Vietnamese-American population in Portland are immigrants, based on the U.S. 2000 Census, this is only one of many, truly amazing stories of the Vietnamese-American people living in Portland, OR. Their journeys and ability to create a life for themselves and their families thousands of miles away for their county are what set them apart from the rest of the population.

This blog is dedicated to giving you a brief look into the Vietnamese-American community in Portland, OR. This community is defined by anyone who is any part Vietnamese.