Thanh Evoniuk lived in Ho Chi Minh City until she moved to the United States to go to college. She began her studies at Seattle College. After obtaining her associate’s degree, she wanted to explore more of the United States. She moved to Portland because it was close enough for convenience, but far away enough to experience another state. Evoniuk noticed that Portland reminded her of her home in Ho Chi Minh city because of its small size and popularity with food trucks. She pursued a Master’s Degree in Business and Finance at Portland State University and was a co-founder and chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of Alpha Beta Psi. During that time, she led a project to translate financial documents into multiple languages so Portland residents could have increased access to financial documentation. She now resides in Beaverton with her husband and works as a Wealth Management Associate. She has lived in the United States for 9 years.
In her interview, Evoniuk describes how she pushed through culture shock by immersing herself in her interests and having patience with adaptation. She mentions how it can be hard for international students to find work in the United States because their visas last only so long and they must be sponsored by the company they are working for. Another factor she emphasizes is the language barrier many face while in the United States. Evoniuk describes how this causes them to feel disconnected and to lose interest in wanting to be a part of the community. This was the main reason why she led the project in the translation of financial documents: for accessibility and especially to “make people feel like the city cares for them.”
Evoniuk describes her desire to live in a diverse community and to engage with people from other walks of life. She discusses finding the balance between engaging with her culture and others. At the end of the interview, Evoniuk remarks how there is a large gap in thinking, communicating, and feeling between older and younger generations in the Vietnamese community. She believes a factor in closing this gap is for people to remind themselves that they come from the same roots and share a culture and language, regardless of generation: “you have that Vietnamese roots, and you need to honor it.”