by Julie Pham
(This article previously appeared on Người Việt Tây Bắc and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
“Một cây làm chẳng nên non. Ba cây chụm lại thành hòn núi cao.” This Vietnamese proverb means that a single tree doesn’t matter much. Three trees together look like a mountain.
How does a refugee community like the Vietnamese achieve so much when we came with so little? My father, Kim Phạm, always stressed that the success of our community is rooted in a willingness to support and uplift one another so that we can achieve our dreams. We have been able to do so much more with what little we have because we have each other’s backs.
Many of these dreams started in Vietnam. Like hundreds of thousands of other South Vietnamese who fought against the communists during the Vietnam War, my father was forced into a communist prison camp to be reeducated in the years after the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Inside the camp, he dreamed of starting a newspaper in the U.S. The dream was realized in Seattle, where my parents and I managed to find refuge after fleeing Vietnam as boat people. My parents named the newspaper Người Việt Tây Bắc (NVTB), which translates to “Vietnamese people of the Northwest.”
Continue reading The Key to a Refugee Community’s Success
by Julie Pham
My father, Kim Pham, was on his feet for the last time two Thursdays ago. Thursday is when the newspaper is prepared for the printer so that it can hit the streets on Friday. He was at his computer, putting the finishing touches on the front page. He loved this job, something he had been doing since he founded Northwest Vietnamese News in 1986. The next morning, when my brother brought him the print edition, he said, “the cover is beautiful. Let’s work on the next one.” That was the last cover page my father designed. He passed in his sleep this past Tuesday, March 30.
Continue reading Remembering Kim Pham, Publisher of Northwest Vietnamese News and My Father
by Julie Pham
It didn’t hit me that the office where my parents ran a Vietnamese-language newspaper for decades was really closed until I noticed I still have a key on my chain that I no longer use.
My younger brother and I had been preparing for the shutdown of the office since July. On weekends, we’d sift through 36 years of existence packed into 1050 square feet. Binders of old invoices and advertising orders, stacks of newspapers and Vietnamese music CDs were stuffed inside the drawers of executive desks made of cheap wood with “mahogany” veneer, hefty enough to withstand the bulky monitors and desktops of the 1990s. The stuff stored there wasn’t just work-related. My brothers and I were also guilty of leaving our odd pieces of clothing, sporting equipment, and high school yearbooks at the office.
The adrenaline needed to constantly sift, pack, and then haul to the dump fueled me just enough to get through the over three tons of trash. When we were done, I had no energy left to feel sad.
Continue reading OPINION: What Ends During the Pandemic Starts Again Somewhere Else