in 1929 [Exact date uncertain]. Died, Sunday, February 18,
2018, at 1:19 p.m. PT.
40 Huyền Trân Công Chúa or Rue des Arènes, Huế
Thiên-Hựu / Institut de la Providence, Huế
[I will plug these into Part 2 of the more
detailed biographical questions later.]
did you travel to Europe? from Marseille to Bruxelles?
travelled to Marseille, France, in September 1949 by ship,
Messageries Maritimes. The trip was paid by a donation of
5,000 piasters from Fr. Trần Hữu Thanh.
in Bruxelles: from month, year to month, year?
September/October 1949 to August 1951
in AFI, Brussels?
September 1949: Attending Lycée Francais in Brussells one
schoolyear and from 1950 to August 1951: in missionary
training at the the Auxiliaires Féminines Internationales
(AFI) headquarters in Brussels.
in AFI, Chicago?
AFI sent three Vietnamese, one Belgian, and one French member
to Chicago (Crossroads)
Time at Xavier College: from September 1951 to
June 1953. Graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Social
at Loyola Univ., Chicago: from September 1951 to June 1956,
attending the School of Social Work. Graduated with the degree
of Master of Social Work (MSW), the first Vietnamese
ever to receive such a degree.
work at the student Bulletin CHUÔNG VIỆT,
The Bell of Vietnam
the beginning of my arrival in Chicago, the few Vietnamese
students helped Fr. Hoàng Quốc Trương to publish Chuông Việt.
Later when Fr. Trương returned to Vietnam, I, Huỳnh Anh, and
Vũ Ngô Luyện were in charge of Chuông Việt monthly.
were the Vietnamese Catholic Students Association in
America people she knew in Chicago besides Fr. Emmanuel
Jacques, Ngo Khon Dinh, Huynh Anh?
3 Vietnamese AFI members were Ký Mỹ, Như Cầu and Phan Ngọc
Quới. Also Phùng Ngọc Cam, Bạch Liên, Trần Thị ..ích, Phan Thi
Ngo and a few others whose names I forget.
did you leave Chicago?
I left Chicago to return to Vietnam in June 1957
your first job at The Times of Vietnam?
My first job was with The Times of Vietnam and began to be
involved in some parish [which one?] activities.
was the editor?
Nguyễn Lâu, Nguyễn Văn Thái, and an American named Gene
Gregory. Among other things, we published a book entitled A
Glimpse of Vietnam, edited by Gene Gregory, Nguyen Lau, and
Phan Thi Ngoc Quoi. Saigon, 1957, 100 pages.
working with the Times of Vietnam, I had few other contract
jobs before teach at Gia Long High School, namely with the National
Institute of Administration (NIA) / Học Viện Quốc Gia Hành
Chánh / Michigan State University (MSU),
working/producing real administrative cases for the students
at NIA. In this capacity, we travelled widely in South
Vietnam, interviewing many officials and published a bilingual
book (used as a textbook for NIA students. The NIA students
were trained for the positions of Quận Trưởng (District
Chief), and many also became Tỉnh Trưởng (Province Chief),
Chefs de Bureau, or Chefs de Service, etc. They were called
Đốc Sự Hành Chánh, a rank in the civil service (equivalent to
Cử nhân in regular university.)
did you start teaching at Lycee Gia Long? Subjects?
started teaching English at Gia Long high school from
February 1960 to Spring 1972.
former students you have been in contact with recently?
have been in contact regularly with about a dozen of former
did you start working with International Voluntary
taught at Gia Long mostly 4-5 hours in the morning, and worked
with international Social Service in the afternoon.
and where did you meet Mai Quí? Her adoption?
met Mai Quí in one of my field trips, the one in Ban Me Thuot.
Mai Quí was in the orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity. It
was the wartime, so I did not stay in a hotel, but preferred
to stay at “nhà nghỉ” (rest house) run by the nuns which is
safer. Mai was about three years old, and has not gone to
school yet. She was the youngest in the house, so during the
day, she followed the nun in charge like a puppy. One evening,
I spent the time with the girls in the house. There were about
ten girls ranging in age about 3 to 13, and considered each
other as big sisters / younger sister (chị em). Mai was very
cute, but full of scabies (ghẽ). As Mai seemed to like me very
much, so the nuns asked her if she wanted to go with me to
Saigon. She nodded. But she could not go with me then because
Sister Superior was traveling in France. I was told that Mai
was a full orphan (no parents or family members left), but the
decision should wait until the Superior returned from abroad.
About three months later, I got a letter from the Superior
saying that Mai was available for adoption, but I had to make
the adoption legally… It was a long story. But final adoption
was made. I gave her the name of Mai Quí, and her legal name
was Phan Mai Quí. By the time she got to Saigon, she was loved
by my parents right away by the way she talked and her
feelings for the poor and others.
and siblings departure from Vietnam?
Why did you not leave Vietnam when you received a
telegram signed by Henry Kissinger allowing you to come to
March and April 1975, the war was very intense. I was working
at the Ministry of Social Welfare. Besides the plan made by
Vinh and the State Department (Mr. Henry Kissinger) and a few
voluntary agencies for me and my family to be evacuated to the
USA, especially by Catholic Relief Services (CRS)… but I said
that I trusted CRS to take Mai, my parents, and also my
brother-in-law (Francois Hoàng Xuân Thắng), and because they
transported a lot of orphans, they also needed a nurse. So anh
Thắng travelled as an escort nurse. In fact they left in the
last commercial plane from Saigon (on Saturday, April 26,
1975). There was a plane for chị Vĩnh and the older children
(over 15 years of age) to leave the following Monday (April
28), but Vietnam fell on the next day. That was why chị Vĩnh
and the older children got stuck in Vietnam.
about me? I had offers too from various agencies… I asked them
whether they offered “di tản” to my staff also… They did not
answer, but I could understand that the response was negative.
told the US officials who contacted me that my work was
“successful” because we worked as a team… I could not feel
right to go by myself and left them there…. That was why I
opted to stay and continue the work until June 15, 1975 when I
ended in the “reeducation process.”
did you start the "re-education" process? From what month,
year to what month, year was she in detention camp? Where was
the detention camp?
civil servants, from Chủ sự and up to ministers [were told to]
start the “reeducation process.” The new communist officials
said the whole country needed reeducation, locally or in
concentration [camps]. In short term (few days to months,
years…) depending on their positions and “crimes”.
“reeducation” started on June 15, 1975 to November 5, 1986
[is it correct? That is 11 years!] at Long Thành camp, a
former orphanage, at about 50 kilometers from Saigon (half-way
between Saigon and Vũng Tàu). From the camp, everyday we saw
the Vũng Tàu / Saigon bases passing in the distance… I was in
the same place all the time.
did you do from the time she was released until she was
allowed to emigrate to the USA?
life after “reeducation”, I will write another time. It needs
ai đã có trải qua cuộc sống thăng trầm theo vận nước và hoàn
cảnh cá nhân, gia đình, xã hội … như tôi…? “Tout est grace…”
[Who has passed through the ups and downs of the country and
the personal, family, social circumstances … like me…? “All is
in Monterey peninsula?
The Monterey County Department of Social and Employment
Services July 2000 at age 70.