Vinh Wong was born in Bao Loc, Vietnam in 1969, and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1978. Although Wong’s parents were born in Vietnam, his grandparents on both his mother’s and his father’s side immigrated from China to Vietnam. Wong’s family fled Vietnam by boat, spent nine months in Malaysia, and were later sponsored by a family in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Wong grew up in Portland, and attended Portland Public Schools through high school. After graduating from high school, Wong enrolled in Oregon State University where he studied nutrition and hotel management. During his senior year at OSU, Wong began working part time in his friend’s pho restaurant. Eventually, he left his job in a hospital in order to open his own restaurant. Wong now runs three Vietnamese restaurants in Portland.

The interview begins with a brief overview of Vinh Wong’s life; when he was born, and when his family immigrated to the United States. Followed by the overview is a more in depth discussion of Wong’s experience fleeing Vietnam with his family. He remembers the Lake Oswego family who sponsored him, why his parents chose to wait for an opening to come to the United States, and his first impressions of Portland. Next, Wong recounts his experience growing up in Portland and attending Portland Public Schools such as Woodstock, Duniway, Sellwood, and Cleveland High School. After a brief discussion of his educational history, Wong tells the story of starting the restaurant chain he now runs called Pho Van. Through this story, Wong discusses the importance of food to his culture and his family. Wong then talks about his experience with belonging to two different cultures, how the experience of immigration was different for his parents, and the realities of racism that refugees face in the United States.