Xuan-Giang Tran was born in 1974 in Vietnam. Her mother and father were educators in Vietnam, and shortly after Tran was born, her father moved to Japan to further his education. Her mother had been an educator in Vietnam for eleven years, and because of her job, it made it difficult for her and her daughter to live under the new government. Tran and her mother tried to escape Vietnam nine times, and the ninth time they escaped by boat, where they were raided by pirates a total of seven times. Eventually, they ended up in Thailand where they were sponsored by a Lutheran Church in Salem, Oregon. Since arriving in the United States, Tran has remained in Oregon. She attended Salem Public schools and then went to Oregon State University where she majored in Biology. After college, she moved to Portland to work as a paralegal. Tran came to realize, after nineteen years as a paralegal, that she has a passion for psychology and counseling and decided to go to graduate school to get a degree in counseling. At the time of this interview, Tran is attending Lewis & Clark College to obtain her graduate degree.

In this interview, Xuan-Giang Tran talks about her experiences leaving Vietnam and adjusting to her life in the United States. Tran starts the interview by describing what it was like to escape from Vietnam. She describes how she and her mother were once imprisoned for trying to escape. She also goes into great detail about their experiences with pirates on their way to Thailand. She goes on to recount her first experiences arriving in the United States, and how helpful it was to have cousins. They were all the same age and could bond over their shared experiences. Tran attended Gubser, Washington, and Hayesville Elementary Schools, Waldo Middle School, and McKay High School. Salem Public Schools had just begun the ESL program when Tran arrived in Salem. She describes how she learned English by being thrown into a classroom setting at a young age, and by sixth grade, she believed the ESL program was holding her back so she ended up leaving the program. The Vietnamese community was very small in Salem, but her family got involved by working for social services and public schools. By holding these positions they were able to provide important information and services for the Vietnamese community. Tran’s parents pushed her to obtain a biology degree from Oregon State, but after graduating Tran realized that becoming a medical doctor was not the career path she desired. Tran saw how the mental health needs of her community were not being met, and decided to go back to school to study family, marriage, and couples counseling. She ends her interview by describing her work as a graduate student at Lewis & Clark College and what it has been like to raise her sons in the Vietnamese community in Portland.