This story appears from our archives of Senior Voices publications. NAPCA first shared Vannavy’s story in 2009.
Born 1950, South Vietnam
Arrived 1983, Houston, Texas
Senior Aide, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center
I grew up and studied in South Vietnam. While raising my children and working as a sixth-grade teacher, I wanted my children to pursue a better life in the land of opportunity and a safer environment. After several months in refugee camps in 1983, my family and I got on a boat with other people to come to the United States. It was a challenging journey to travel on a boat with many people, limited resources, and unexpected weather.
First, we arrived in Texas, where my parents and sister lived. Adjusting to the new environment was a big challenge, mainly because of the language barriers, which made it hard to find a job. I wanted to continue my career as a teacher; however, I did not have the chance to invest money and time. Raising my children was my priority. After I had my youngest child, I started working in hair and nail salons and did nails, waxing, and facial services in California and Massachusetts.
Keeping the job at the hair and nail salons was hard because of my age and health conditions. During the challenging time, I learned about the senior program at NAPCA from my daughter, who convinced me to get a different job. After enrolling in the program, I started working at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center as a senior aide. My job at the center is to coordinate activities such as playing music, crafting, puzzles, and exercise for the seniors.
Even though I am almost 60, I want to be independent and serve my community as long as I can. Positive attitude keeps me happy. Sometimes when I am sad or depressed, I sing a song. I get out of the house and walk a little bit, and look outside and start talking to people on the streets. I try my best to keep up my spirits.
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