Denver’s Vietnamese Refugees Share New Life While Keeping Family’s Heritage

Because of the chaos that was happening in their homeland in the 1970s, thousands of Vietnamese fled and some, later on, found a home in Colorado.

The melancholic memory is still fresh for Nga Vương-Sandoval, who, at the age of three, had to temporarily stay in refugee camps in the Philippines, Guam, and Arkansas.

She was with the about 2 million people who were unhoused and still have from within the shock of their suffering. 

It had been very challenging for them as they had to leave behind the good life they have in Vietnam and even depart from their relatives in order for them to leave safely.

Starting their life all over again, Denver has become a home to the 24,000-man Vietnamese Americans.

After being able to establish their community and found a home in the place, Nga said “I’m proud to say that it’s the city that I love, it’s the state that I love.”

Meanwhile, Vo, a 21-year-old grandchild of a Vietnamese who grew up in Aurora after his grannies and parents left Vietnam in the 1990s to seek a better life, had the experience of living in “a very diverse place.”

Knowing very little about his family’s past in Vietnam, he conducted a research project to unleash an “inherently American story,” according to him. 

Enabling people to have a glimpse of the refugees from a different perspective, Vo made use of his relatives as objects of his photography.

“Even though we moved here, they still lived a very Vietnamese life,” Vo said in Denver Post, 

It was also in his research that he found out how the majority of his family members were able to escape Vietnam while being robbed of cash and gold on their way.

He also mentioned how his family kept their culture by still practicing them in Denver which contributed to what America is, a place with diverse cultures. 

Despite having to start from scratch, they were able to begin life anew and even owned an Asian supermarket, Asian cinema, and Truong An Gifts.

His family also started the Far East Center shopping mall in 1987, home to him and his cousins and even to the Asian community.