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Published: November 16th 2007
Trang looks as good as ever and is always ready to have her photo taken.
The next day after I was in Vietnam I got a call from my former Rotary Exchange Student Trang Nguyễn. She is a flight attendant for Vietnam Airlines and she had a flight to Hanoi. She said she could spend most of the afternoon with me.
Trang was the first Rotary Exchange Student in the history between the United States and Vietnam. To me and most others she was a sensation to say the least. Here was a girl of sixteen who was born in a dirt floor, thatched bamboo house in the Mekong Delta. Most of her schooling was in one room dirt floor school houses with few books to read.
She came to the United States to late for the 1st semester of school because the US Consulate refused to give her a visa at first. When she got here her one year as an exchange student had been limited to 8 ½ months. So, instead of enrolling her in Kinsley High School late I chose to send her to Oklahoma City University’s ESLS (English Second Language School. She was the only sixteen year old ever to attend that school. Here classmates were college graduates
She bought me a great meal.
who were learning English to go into Master Degree Programs. After one month she ranked second in that class.
First week in Kinsley High School she was tutoring American students in Algebra.
She was on the honor roll the whole semester.
She could bring tears to anyone with any emotion with her rendition of “My Heart Will Go On.”
She was amazing in about every way.
Her father died when she was 8 years old. That made her officially by the government an orphan. Her Mother who had never been trained to make a living had to hit the streets as an Bán Hàng Rong (seller of the streets). Trang at eight years old was put in charge of cooking for her brother, three sisters, Mother and Grandmother. It was a difficult time for them but to this day Trang knows how to cook. She would cook from time to time while she was being hosted by Linda and me and her food was always good. The presentation was even better. One thing very noticeable was she tended to make things out of stuff we normally threw away. She knew how to cook everything.
Trang and me in a cyclo
They build them larger now days.
Being a Rotary Exchange Student changed Trang’s life. One of the big requirements of working as a flight attendant for Vietnam Airlines is speaking good English. Being a Rotary Exchange Student gave her that skill.
Rotary didn’t give her everything. She already had a big personality. She just needed a chance. Rotary helped give her that.
Trang has started to give back. She has always been our best Ambassador in Vietnam. She will be this way the rest of her life. We got a bargain in Trang Nguyễn.
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