Thao Tu is the president of the Vietnamese Community of Oregon (VNCO.) He was born in Vietnam in 1962 as the son of two teachers. Tu and his family were persecuted by Vietnam’s communist government after the Fall of Saigon due to his father’s service in the South Vietnamese military. Although he was able to finish high school, Tu was blocked from gaining any further education in Vietnam. He left the country in 1991 with his brother and parents under the H.O. Program. Sponsored by an uncle, they settled in Portland, Oregon where they have lived ever since. A Ford Scholar, Tu studied radiology at the Oregon Institute of Technology and currently works at a clinic in Vancouver, Washington. He married his wife in 2001, has two sons, and is incredibly involved in his community.

The interview begins with Tu talking about his life in Vietnam and explaining how he and his family were persecuted by Vietnam’s communist government. After the Fall of Saigon, Tu’s father was imprisoned for over six years in a communist reeducation camp. During the interview, Tu talks about how this affected him and his family and describes what their life in Vietnam was like after his father’s release. From there, Tu discusses immigrating to the United States and explains what it was like arriving in Portland. He summarizes his path through higher education and then goes on to talk about the VNCO and his involvement as president. Tu summarizes the VNCO’s mission and the various programs the organization puts together. He then goes on to talk about youth involvement in Vietnamese culture and language here in Portland. Next, Tu reflects upon what freedom means to him and speaks more about his discontent with Vietnam’s current government.