Over the weekend I took my dad, in the pictures below, to the beach and out for lunch in Philadelphia. While not directly photographing "Searching for Little Saigon in America" I was getting used to interviewing and jotting down notes. Part of my project is getting the other side of the story into this. So I think my first sets of interviews will be with my parents since they are the closest people that I know who left Vietnam.
My dad's life in Vietnam wasn't easy. His earliest memories of when he had to start working was at age 11 as a bartender's assistant. Working from the moment he left school till a little past midnight bringing in blocks of ice, breaking that ice, and restocking the beer cabinets. All of this while going to school. Later after eating a plate of vegan chicken cheese steak, would have been nice over pho, he mentioned about how he met my mom through the sharing of text books. Textbooks were pretty expensive, so much that a lot of the books that my parents and their classmates used were circulating used books. Also telling was when he came to the US, with my mom, people were pretty shocked when he graduated from Drexel University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering after writing him off as someone who wouldn't.
It was at this point my dad tried to, not so subtly, try to push me back into going for my graduate degree. I can understand his viewpoint, for him education was really important towards his upbringing. But there's no way I would want to go back. Sorry, dad! He felt that education here is so much more easier than it is back in Vietnam.
I should start thinking of what questions I need to ask. So thanks, dad! There is more to his story so I think when I get back from California I am going to have to photograph my parents and sit down with both of them to talk about their lives in Vietnam and what changed here. This time over pho or bun bo hue even if it is pretty hot out.