Phoung Nguyen

Phoung Nguyen

Phoung’s story was originally shared in our Senior Voices Publication in October of 2009.

Phoung Nguyen

Born 1952, Saigon, Vietnam

Arrived 1989, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Food Service, Asian Counseling and Referral Service, Seattle, Washington

I am from Saigon. I had a small business, café and juice, on my own before I came to America. First, I came to Oklahoma City and lived there one year. Then, I moved to Seattle and started working in a candy factory. The candy company laid me off because they moved and I did not have a car. My son was seven years old and it was hard to get a job. I found a job sewing, then that company had a bankruptcy. Then, I worked at the Salvation Army for two years, hanging and sorting clothing.

At the Salvation Army, the other people only spoke English. I took classes for ESL. I spoke English every day at work and when I did not understand I said, “okay, you write” and I went home to look in the dictionary, so I know what it means. That’s how I learned a lot; I’m not shy when even I said something wrong.

I left Vietnam to find freedom. When I first came here, I missed the food and everything. As I tried new things, I don’t miss it as much. I love it very much here. I am lucky; everywhere I work I have good people with me here. I volunteered with the Vietnamese Senior Association at the Garfield Community Center. One of the seniors there told me about NAPCA SCSEP and I applied in April of 2008.

Now I work with Asian Counseling and Referral Service in Seattle. I work with the Executive Chef, Alice, to cook and clean in the kitchen. I like the work and seeing other seniors. I feel like I belong in a big family. It makes me very happy and I love to do it. I help make a lot of kinds of food; Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Laotian, Thai.

My son lives in Auburn and I live in senior housing in Seattle. I visit my friends and go to the YMCA on my days off. When my son visits I tell them about my job, it makes me very happy. I am very appreciative of NAPCA SCSEP and ACRS. I love what I do.

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