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Published: March 11th 2006
Trang with her oldest sister Bich Lieu at Graduation party.
In 1999, Linda and I hosted the first known youth exchange from Vietnam. This young 16-year-old girl who was born in a thatch hut in the Mekong Delta town of Tan Heip proved to be a sensational youth exchange. Trang blossomed as a youth exchange student. To know Trang was to love her was the saying in District 5690.
Trang came knowing little English. In eight months she was fluent in English. She was on the honor roll at Kinsley High School 100% of the time. The first week in school she was tutoring American students in Algebra. Above all, she had a good singing voice and loved to sign. Her rendition of “ My Heart Will Go On,” and “Heal This Land,” would bring tears to my eyes.
Our relationship has continued to this day. She is an orphan by Vietnamese standards in that she has no father. He was killed in an accident. I am “Daddy Kent” to her and will always be. I have continued by fatherly duties to this day. I have always wanted for Trang to reach her potential. We have had our ups and downs in this matter but Trang is doing well.
Trang with some members of the airline show choir in Hanoi competition.
After being an Exchange Student in the US she went back to Vietnam and graduated from a Vietnamese High School. Then I brought her back to the US to attend nursing school at Barton County Community College. She excelled in the program but after one year she wanted to go back to visit her family in Vietnam. I said: “Don’t go, anything can happen.” She didn’t take my advice and went anyway. Sure enough, the “Saars” problem came and BCCC embargoed all Asian students. When the embargo was lifted her visa had expired. When she went to the consulate to renew her visa she was denied.
Stuck in Vietnam, Trang went to college to study English and she gave private tutoring lessons in English to students. Then she got an opportunity to attend flight attendant school for Vietnam Airlines. Believe me, Trang would have been a great nurse. Now, she is a great flight attendant.
Here are some of the conditions she had to pass to be a flight attendant for Vietnam Airlines:
Height: between 158 and 169 cm. Weight, balanced with height.
Excel in English and Vietnamese communication Score of at least 255 in English. All
Trang right before she came to the US as a Rotary Exchange Student. The first in the history of our two countries. Photo at the Presidential Palace in HCM City.
the instruction is in English.
Pass a complete physical. Everything inside and outside of your body must be perfect.
In general, everything must be perfect. No exceptions.
You attend airline school for six months and study over 30 subjects. You must have a grade of 100 on everything.
After you pass all of this you can sign up with the company for six months. You are on probation during this period. Any deficiency you are out. Then you sigh up for one year and as long as you remain perfect you can work till you are 45 years old.
Trang has continued to go to college while she is working as a flight attendant. I ask her why she is doing this and she said she intends to be a supervisor one day.
The company she works for recently celebrated Vietnam Airlines 50th birthday. To do this they had different divisions of the airline organize choirs. Trang’s company got first place at the Hanoi competition. She still loves to sing.
Trang, I miss you so much.
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