November 21, 2005

WHAT MR. LAM CAN TEACH THE FAR LEFT AND FAR RIGHT:

At Last, a Fresh Beginning: For a newly arrived Vietnamese immigrant and his family, assimilation is an invigorating challenge. They were stranded in the Philippines for years. (Mai Tran, November 21, 2005, LA Times)

Lanh Lam is nothing if not resilient.

He has been in the United States less than two months and has failed the driver's license test three times. No matter. He's happy to try again.

He waited nearly a week to get a ride from a relative so he could enroll his youngest children in grade school. Bewildered by the signs and street names he couldn't understand, he didn't want to risk heading off by himself.

His 18-year-old son, Tuan, was a bit braver and boarded a city bus by himself to attend English classes at a cultural center four miles away. It took him three hours to make the trip, as he haphazardly got on and off buses.

Unbowed, Lam and his family push forward in a strange land, more curious than afraid.

"I will endure anything as long as there's freedom," Lam said. "I didn't want anything more than freedom."

Life in America has not been an easy adjustment for Lam and his family, who were in the first wave of Vietnamese refugees to arrive in Southern California after being stranded in the Philippines since 1991. In all, about 2,000 are expected to come to America in the next six months.


Two lessons here--one for nativists and the other for those who want to bug out of Iraq the way they did out of Vietnam.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 21, 2005 9:48 AM
Comments

More Americans who had the misfortune to have been born in the wrong country.

Posted by: Rick T. at November 21, 2005 11:35 AM

The Philippines are free.

Posted by: h-man at November 21, 2005 12:15 PM

"I will endure anything, as long as there's freedom.". . ."I didn't want anything more than freedom." I shall keep taking that driver's license test until I get it right.

There is a scene in the film, "Hunt for Red October," in which one of the Russian submarine officers plotting to defect to the United States, talks of his dreams to get a "recreational vehicle," and drive from state to state, "without papers." We should not underestimate how closely spacial mobility is connected to liberty.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 21, 2005 12:44 PM

Rick, I like that concept. American who had the misfortune to have been born in the wrong country. To the Lam family -- welcome home.

Posted by: erp at November 21, 2005 2:47 PM

Chai Vang.

Posted by: carter at November 21, 2005 2:47 PM
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