Tina’s Story

Vietnamese refugee and Hello Neighbor board member Tina Tran, shares her family's journey of immigrating to the U.S.

December 18, 2020

What is your first memory?


I often wonder about people’s first memory in life. As for myself, the first memory I have resembles something out of Pirates of the Caribbean.

I was 3 years old when I remember being handed over to a machete-wielding pirate with long, greasy hair as he boarded our escape boat from Vietnam in the South China Sea. After that harrowing experience, I lived in a Red Cross refugee camp for ten months with my mom and brother. Our escape separated us from my dad, who I met for the first time years later.

My father was a lawyer in Vietnam. When we came to the U.S. he learned to become a gardener. Well into his sixties, he mowed the lawns of my friends’ homes in the hot Southern California heat. He always smelled of grass, his hands and clothes were stained with dirt and grease, and his skin turned into a caramelized brown leather from being in the sun every day. He traded in a job where he used his smarts to one consisting of manual labor.

He never complained or made us feel bad for him. He took care of our family, and made this sacrifice so that my brother and I had the opportunity to thrive.

Every day, I’m grateful to be an American. I’m grateful for the opportunity this country gives to the poor, hungry, and displaced.

Today, I’m grateful to sit on the Board of Directors for Hello Neighbor, where we welcome refugees and give them the tools and neighborly encouragement to successfully navigate their new lives – and to realize the dreams and hopes that come with immigrating to America.

I hope you’ll join me in supporting the hard-working, industrious families who are starting new lives in America, and could use the hand of a kind-hearted neighbor to help them thrive in the face of adversity.

At Hello Neighbor, we’re in the business of building bridges, creating opportunities for our newest neighbors to connect to their community and gain the confidence to begin again.

With your donation this holiday season, we can continue to be on the frontlines of love supporting recently resettled refugee and immigrant families in need.

Will you help us continue building bridges this year for our newest neighbors?

With you,
Tina Tran
Hello Neighbor Board Member


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