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Do Thi Minh Thu

California, USA

Where are you from?  How long have you lived in the United States?
I am from Vietnam.  I have lived in America since 1992.

How old were you when you came here?  Was it difficult to get used to life here?
I came here when I was 33 years old.  Yes, it was difficult in the first couple years; but now it is alright.

What was it like growing up as a child in your country?  What was your school like?
It was a disadvantage growing up in my country.  The food was scarce, and my family lived day by day.  School was very strict.  Teachers had the final words in all cases.  The teachers would discipline me if I violated the rules by spanking or making me stand by the flag pole for a long time.

How many years do students attend school?  Do girls get the same opportunities as boys?
The students attend the same amount of years like the American kids, but they also have to go to school on Saturdays.  The girls get the same opportunities as the boys.

What were your favorite subjects in school?
My favorite subjects in school were math, chemistry and English.

What did you do for fun in your country?
I played with my friends.  We made up games to play with one another.

Did you have any direct experience with war?  If so, can you tell us anything about it?
Not a whole lot.  I can't remember it at all.

What kind of government exists in your homeland?  How is that different from the United States?
The goverment in Vietnam is still communism.  There are a lot of things that I can not do in Vietnam.  The freedom is not there, and I do not have the right to speak [freedom of speech].

What was your job (occupation) in your country?
I was a teacher. I taught 7th and 8th grade math and physics.

Are you able to work as a teacher here in the U.S.?  Why or why not?
No, I can not because I do not have enough English vocabulary and the school system over here is quite different than in Vietnam.

What is your job now?  Do you enjoy your work?
I am a manicurist.  Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't.

What kind of education helped you to get your present job?  What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
I have patience and am able to read, write and communicate English with my customers.  My advice is learn to speak English, take classes, and have a lot of patience.

How many languages do you speak?  Which ones?
I speak two languages:  English and Vietnamese.

Are you, or do you want to become a U.S. citizen?  What does an immigrant need to do to become a citizen?
I want to become a U.S. citizen.  An immigrant needs to know the basic constitutional laws and the kind of government that this country has.

Why do you have an English name?  Why don't you use your real name?
"Cindy" is my English name.  I use an English name because it will help my customers easily remember and communicate with me.  My real name is hard for my customers to remember and to pronounce.

My real name is Do Thi Minh Thu.  Do is my surname, what you call "last name". Thi is my middle name.  My given name, what you call "first name" is Minh Thu.  My family calls me Thu.  It is hard to explain with words how to pronounce my name.  You have to hear it if you don't speak Vietnamese.  When you write my name, some of the letters are written a little different than they look in English.  You can call me Cindy!

What advice do you have for children around the world?
Love one another and pray for each other.

- 29 November 2001


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Last Updated:
25 March 2002

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