Feeling at home in America
WORTHINGTON -- When Dung Truong was born, he was immediately given away by his mother to be raised by strangers. That was how it was for many babies born to Vietnamese mothers and American soldier fathers. They were unwanted and unloved by their ...
WORTHINGTON -- When Dung Truong was born, he was immediately given away by his mother to be raised by strangers. That was how it was for many babies born to Vietnamese mothers and American soldier fathers. They were unwanted and unloved by their families and unappreciated by the Vietnamese society.
With the odds stacked against them, lucky ones like Truong made it.
For the first seven years of his life, Truong was raised by nuns in a Catholic convent in Saigon City, Vietnam.
"The Sisters in the church take care of a lot of children," said Truong. "They didn't have a lot of food to take care of all the babies."
At the age of 7, Truong was placed with a foster family in Saigon City and began attending school there. He soon realized that his mixed heritage wasn't welcome among his peers.
"I went to school, and some (students) don't like me," he said. "Everybody don't like it (that I'm half American)."
He dropped out of school after five years, deciding he would rather stay home than go to school and be taunted and teased.
In his later teen years, Truong's foster parents applied to a government program that allowed children born to American servicemen to relocate to the United States.
"I wanted to come to America," Truong said. "My parents, my mom and family take care of me, they love me, but my friends -- everybody don't love, don't like me, and I don't want to be there."
After the documents were approved, Truong, his foster parents and their five other children journeyed to the Philippines, where they began to learn the English language before moving on to Houston, Texas, on May 12, 1992.
While most of Truong's family remains in Houston today, he left them behind at age 18 to find work in Worthington. He arrived in the community in May 1993.
"I had a friend who lived here, and he called me and said there was work available here," said Truong, whose first and only job has been at the local JBS pork processing facility.
That same friend traveled with Truong back to Vietnam for a visit several years ago, during which he would meet a young woman, Bichtauy Nguyen, whom he married three years ago. She moved to the United States in November 2007, two years after Truong earned his U.S. citizenship.
The couple now owns their own home in Worthington, and recently added a new member to their family. Son Henry Truong was born on Dec. 23.
Truong works the night shift at JBS as a box former in the cryovac department. He likes the work, and he is thankful to be living in southwest Minnesota.
"I like it living here," he said. "It's a small town, but ... now I have family, I have a job, I take care of my family," he said.
Truong has also been able to help other Vietnamese people integrate into the local culture. Whether it's helping train a newly hired Vietnamese worker at JBS or assisting someone in need of a job or human services, Truong said he's willing to help others.
"One friend who lost a job, I took care of him for two months and found a job for him in Lincoln, Neb.," he said.
In his spare time, Truong enjoys spending time with his family, bowling and playing soccer. He was once a member of a local Vietnamese soccer team.