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Vi-Linh's StoryCorps interview with her mother

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Greetings to those who have come across this particular interview I’ve recorded. I am Vi-Linh Vu, currently an 8th grader at Jefferson Middle School. It may not be obvious, but if you were to try and take a guess at my origin, my name serves as a very good hint. Like most other kids in my generation, my parents and/or grandparents were the first ones in our family to immigrate to America. The whole lot of us are so fortunate to be born here where the government is so much better in comparison to the countries where our parents came from. The majority of us will never completely know how it was like to grow up in an intolerable country, we can only try to understand the littlest bits from the stories they tell. When the communists took over in 1975 in Vietnam, it made the country very difficult to live in. Communism basically gave the government control of everything. It was very nerve wracking to have to live day to day worrying when they would come in and take everything away. This was the main reason for the massive amount of people who desperately left Vietnam in hopes of reaching another country with a suitable environment to live in. My mom and her family were a tiny fraction of the millions of people trying to escape the cruel conditions. Eventually, after taking refuge at many different camps and waiting for years, the time came when they made it to the United States. Obviously, being from Vietnam changed their whole experience in school compared to the kids that were native to America. It’s really hard, actually, to imagine living daily life in a completely different country when you’ve lived almost every day of your life in the same one. I can’t begin to imagine the biggest obstacle I would have which would be the language barrier. Jefferson is a very diverse school and during my time here, I’ve seen a lot of different ethnicities and some kids were like my mom. Some of them know very little English and it’s hard to try and put myself into their place and I’m always wondering how they interpret or understand the teachers and the assignments. Other things that I’m not even aware of could be drastically different in a foreigner’s perspective and I also would like to know how my mom felt when she went to school here. On the topic of school, because of being in a refugee camp for a few years, when my mom came to school in America, she actually had to skip a few grades. She went from being in the middle of 7th grade in Vietnam to 10th grade in the U.S.
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