Close-up of smiling young man of Asian descent, short black hair, blue shirt

Looking for A Better Life

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By Qortez Brown

Eleven year-old Qui Nugyen left his home in Vietnam 17 years ago, with just his mother and two siblings, looking for a better life. Qui had some great experiences in America, as well as some bad habits that taught him a lot about certain ways of life in America.

Nguyen is now 28 years old and currently works as a supervisor for Birmingham School custodians. 

Qortez Brown: What age did you come to America? 

Qui Nugyen: I came to America when I was 11 years old. I came here with my mother, my brother, and my sister. My family came to America for a better lifestyle for our family dynamic. 

QB: Has America changed your way of living?

QN: Of course America gave me a better way of living. Such as better, more improved medical care, better food, better housing, better opportunities, and an even better education. Growing up in America has given me positive and negative aspects of living. Living in America has given me great job opportunities such as my current job. I currently work as a supervisor. America has helped me understand my true value as a worker as well as an independent citizen.

The negative aspects of how it changes my way of living, is that it’s harder for me to make more friends. This is due to the fact that it was difficult to be in American and learn the language. Adapting to American culture was quite challenging as well. It was a bit challenging for me and my family. 

QB: Has America had any influence on your life? 

QN: Yes, America had a bad influence on my life. Coming from where it’s hard to gain access to drugs such as marijuana and other things such as fast food… this is a bad influence on my life just for the common fact that in America I may smoke or eat fast food. Down in Vietnam, it is very complex to get things that easy at our presence, which… [sic!] America has played a huge role in my life as well as my day to day living. If I were to have stayed in Vietnam, I probably would not have picked up these habits. 

Close-up of smiling young man of Asian descent, short black hair, blue shirt
Qui Nguyen, Birmingham Convention School custodial, smiles on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. Nyguyen went to Wayne State University and is now a supervisor for Birmingham School custodians. Photo credit: Qortez Brown.

QB: Has America helped you socially? 

QN: Socially, America has helped me as well as it has harmed me. Mostly because of the simple fact that it’s hard for me to make friends, everyone is stereotypical of how Asians are. Such as, we are always eating rice, we are always good at math, or smart at complex subjects. Socially America has taught me to be more well rounded when it comes to meeting and socializing with other people who are not the same ethnicity as me – which it translated to the workplace to where I am able to communicate with my staff as well as my boss as well.

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