Gia Hoa Ryan
Audio Recording of Interview
An immigrant from Vietnam, Gia describes working for Americans in Vietnam in 1966, immigrating to the United States with an American husband, and assisting Vietnamese refugees in Cleveland. She also recounts her experience starting a restaurant, and later creating The Friendship Foundation of American Vietnamese.
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Narrator: Gia Hoa Ryan
Location: Cleveland, OH
Summary: An immigrant from Vietnam, Gia describes working for Americans in Vietnam in 1966, immigrating to the United States with an American husband, and assisting Vietnamese refugees in Cleveland. She also recounts her experience starting a restaurant, and later creating The Friendship Foundation of American Vietnamese.
Topics: Family, Discrimination, Employment, Cultural Adjustment
Section 1: (00:24)
Working for Americans in Vietnam - Ms. Ryan describes getting jobs working for Americans in Vietnam starting in 1966, where she learned English and met her future American husband.
Section 2: (13:16)
Coming to America - Ms. Ryan comes to America, but feels homesick. She misses her baby daughter (her father forced her to leave the baby in Vietnam) and she is worried about her family because of the ongoing war in Vietnam. Her husband finds a placement in Guam so they can move closer to Vietnam, where they stay for a couple years before returning to the US.
Section 3: (22:09)
Life in America - Ms. Ryan describes acclimating to life in America. She faces personal struggles and eventually separates from her husband. She experiences some discrimination but is determined to stay proud of her Vietnamese identity. She is devastated to hear of the takeover on April 30, 1975.
Section 4: (31:08)
Helping Vietnamese Refugees - When Vietnamese refugees start arriving in Cleveland, Ms. Ryan provides them with support in finding warm clothes, ingredients for preparing Vietnamese foods.
Section 5: (33:55)
Starting a Restaurant - Ms. Ryan starts a restaurant selling Vietnamese food. She says that she first learned to use food to connect people from her parents, who would feed hungry people near their home.
Section 6: (42:53)
Visiting Vietnam and the Friendship Foundation - Ms. Ryan hears that her father is sick, so she and her sister travel back to Vietnam to visit. She is devastated by the poverty she observes. Upon returning to the US, she starts a foundation called “The Friendship Foundation of American Vietnamese.” She brings members on visits to Vietnam, and over the years the foundation develops schools, hospitals, and other resources in Vietnam.
Section 7: (54:32)
Vietnamese Cultural Garden - Ms. Ryan’s latest project has been to create a Vietnamese cultural garden in order to honor Vietnamese veterans as well as connect younger generations to their history.
Section 8: (1:01:44)
Religious Life of American Vietnamese - Ms. Ryan describes the religious affiliation of Vietnamese refugees in Cleveland, who are affiliated with Catholicism, Caodaism, and Buddhism.