These are the things that teach us life lessons, that challenge us to empathize, expand our perspective, and inspire us to take action.

From What I Remember is a collection of stories from our parents' lives — from their childhood in war-torn Vietnam, to their struggle as refugees, to their transition to American culture. Each of these recollections gives us insight into the events that shaped our family, but they’re also a small part of a larger history that goes untold, that inform our world even though we are unaware of them.

These stories are the ones that have been cut from history books. These are the stories that we’ll take with us.


Globalization may be making us more connected, but it hasn’t made us more compassionate or brought us any closer to world peace. Though social media has given us an eye into the struggles of people fighting for liberation, it doesn’t keep pace with the number of people who are fleeing their homes and struggling to survive both the act of escaping and the reestablishment of their homes. 

All it takes is one connection to remind us that the displaced aren’t outcasts to be shunned, but humans to be loved. All it takes is one story to remind us that we are not so different. 


Both of our parents were born in Vietnam in the 1960’s and driven from their homes when the country fell to communism a decade later. They escaped their country and found refuge in Malaysia at the Pulau Bidong camp before being sponsored to the United States. Though they were in the same camp at the same time, they didn’t meet until she was 18 and he was 21, while hanging out with friends in Virginia. They were married for 19 years, bore two children (us!), and now live in North Carolina and California. 

Huy | Our dad was born in 1963 in Phan Rang, Vietnam. He is the youngest boy and second youngest of nine children. His parents immigrated from China to Vietnam years before, and were successful business owners in their town, not unusual for other Chinese families within the country.  He and his family fled Vietnam when he was 14, and was sponsored to the US when he was 16. He married our mom in 1985

Oanh | Our mom was born in 1965 in former Saigon, Vietnam. She is the youngest of six children. Her father worked as a Vice President for an industrial company. Her mother was a pharmacist in their neighborhood.  She and her family fled Vietnam when she was 13 and were sponsored to the US when she was 14. She attended high school in Virginia Beach, VA before marrying our dad.