When Mai-Anh Nguyen was just seven or eight years old, her father, a second lieutenant in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, was granted special status to bring his family to the United States. They were sponsored by her father’s friend in Texas for three months before relocating to Arizona. There, Nguyen completed her undergraduate degree in design management at Arizona State University and her graduate degree in speech-language pathology at Northern Arizona University. She recently moved to Oregon with her husband and two children due to global warming and similar political views. At the time of this interview, she works as a speech-language pathologist for a school district in the Portland metro area.

During this interview, Nguyen speaks about what it was like to assimilate into a new culture at such a young age and how that experience has influenced her career and family life. She notes that although she has only been in Oregon for a short time, she has already noticed Portland’s commitment to diversity and equity. Active in the Asian community during her college years at Arizona State University, Nguyen hopes to involve herself and her children with the Portland metro area’s Vietnamese community. She discusses the challenges of choosing to reconnect with her heritage: educating her extended family about Asian culture, exposing her children to the Vietnamese language (which she herself is not confident speaking), and trying to find community in a new place. At the end of the interview, Nguyen explains how, in the field of speech-language pathology, many students who are English language learners (ELL) are over-identified as having communication disorders and are put into special education programs. She hopes that by educating staff and outlining strict guidelines for diagnosis, students from other countries who are still learning English will get the appropriate support.