Ann Phan Ngọc Quới / Ann Ngoc-Quoi Phan
Biographical Questions-and-Answers
Questions submitted by Phan Thiện Châu to Quới on May 13, 2012 and received by Chau on July 2, 2012

Ann Ngoc-Quoi Phan's photo
Born in 1929 [Exact date uncertain]. Died, Sunday, February 18, 2018, at 1:19 p.m. PT.
Birthplace: 40 Huyền Trân Công Chúa or Rue des Arènes, Huế 
Baptized: Nhà Thờ Phường Đúc (Thợ Đúc)
Schools: Trường Đồng Khánh, Huế
Trường Thiên-Hựu / Institut de la Providence, Huế

[I will plug these into Part 2 of the more detailed biographical questions later.]
How did you travel to Europe? from Marseille to Bruxelles?
I 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.
Time in Bruxelles: from month, year to month, year?
From September/October 1949 to August 1951
Time in AFI, Brussels?
From 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.
Time in AFI, Chicago?
The 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 Studies.
Time 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.
Your work at the student Bulletin CHUÔNG VIỆT, The Bell of Vietnam
From 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.
Who were the Vietnamese Catholic Students Association in America people she knew in Chicago besides Fr. Emmanuel Jacques, Ngo Khon Dinh, Huynh Anh?
The 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.
When did you leave Chicago?
I left Chicago to return to Vietnam in June 1957
Is your first job at The Times of Vietnam?
Yes, My first job was with The Times of Vietnam and began to be involved in some parish [which one?] activities.
Who was the editor?
Mr. 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.
After 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.)
When did you start teaching at Lycee Gia Long? Subjects?
I started teaching English at Gia Long high school from February 1960 to Spring 1972.
Any former students you have been in contact with recently?
I have been in contact regularly with about a dozen of former students.
When did you start working with International Voluntary Services (ISS)?
I taught at Gia Long mostly 4-5 hours in the morning, and worked with international Social Service in the afternoon.
How and where did you meet Mai Quí? Her adoption?
I 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.
Parents 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 the USA?
By 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.
What 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.
I 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.”
When 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?
High-ranking 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”.
My “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.
What did you do from the time she was released until she was allowed to emigrate to the USA?
About life after “reeducation”, I will write another time. It needs another volume.
“Mấy 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 grace…"]

Time in Monterey peninsula?

Retired from The Monterey County Department of Social and Employment Services July 2000 at age 70.

Posted on 18 February 2018 by Phan Thiện Châu

To home page