Interviewed LAN YOUNG on November 29, 2010 at her home with the presence of her husband, JAMES YOUNG. Interviewed by Tuan Anh Vu and Kevin Tran.
*Interviewee requested that no photo be taken.
Most Vietnamese in America came after 1975, they were either part of that initial mass exodus out of Vietnam crossing oceans and mined-borders or they are of the second wave that came under the sponsorship of charity organizations or relatives already living in the States. Lan Young, a resident of Kentuckiana since the age of 23, is a rare exception in that she left Vietnam, by herself, in 1973, two years before the end of the war.
So when the VOH project team became aware of her, we jumped at the opportunity to get her story. Initially very reluctant, she was eventually convinced to participate in the project, partly due the gentle encouragement of her husband, James Young.
Outside of her work hours as a hairstylist, Mrs. Young spends much of her times sharing grandparent duties with her husband in their house in Jeffersonville, where gigantic traditional Vietnamese lacquered paintings and small Buddha statues compliment the oak dining table and the flushed cream colored sofas.
Judging from the house décor and her lingering Vietnamese accent that is coupled with an American southern twain, it is easy to see that despite having lived in America for more than half her life, she still retains her Vietnamese identity.
Before starting the interview, Mrs. Young made it known to us that she will not be divulging too much of her personal life, yet soon after we hit the record button, she was already telling us stories of family turbulence, how she had met her husband “through a steamed-bun”. Or how difficult life was when she had to drop out of school at the age of 16 to work to help feed her younger siblings after her father had passed away, how even at 13, she was already working at brick factory when not in school. Despite the physical hardship, she never stopped to pity herself as she felt that it was her life purpose to work for her family, especially for the education and future of her younger siblings. There was no time for herself or romance.
Yet, James and Lan managed to find each other and later settled in Kentucky. Her life before, during and after the war is filled with stories that are both humorous and sad about her family, her connection to Vietnam, and her amazing ability to cope with the most adverse of circumstances.