September 11 Digital Archive

Cambao de Duong

Title

Cambao de Duong

Source

transcription

Media Type

interview

Chinatown Interview: Interviewee

Cambao de Duong

Chinatown Interview: Interviewer

Lan Trinh

Chinatown Interview: Date

2003-11-17

Chinatown Interview: Language

English

Chinatown Interview: Occupation

Manpower

Chinatown Interview: Interview (en)

Q: I'm going to start by having you say your full name and where you are from.

Cambao: My name is Cambao de Duong. I'm from Saigon in South Vietnam.

Q: Can you tell us about your life in Vietnam?

Cambao: Yes. I was born in Vietnam to Chinese parents. I grew up, was educated and worked in Vietnam as a teacher in Saigon and in Kien Tuong. I also was a principal in Saigon, too. Also I taught in the School of Language of Teacher’s College until April 30, 1975. Because I was commissioned to the South Vietnam army, so it was good enough for me to be ordered to receive ten days seminar with the new regime.

Interview: Let's back up a little bit. You said that you were born to Chinese parents. That means your parents came from China, to Vietnam?

Cambao: Yes.

Q: And as Chinese living in Vietnam, is your life any different than an average Vietnamese person?

Cambao: I think it did not make any difference, because in the area we lived, there was a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese. So we did not have language barriers, so everybody treated everybody so nice.

Q: So at home what language did you speak, and what did you study in school, also?

Cambao: At home, normally we speak our dialect -- that's Chao Chow. And sometimes we use many other languages, like Vietnamese. Sometimes we use Cantonese. However, in school, I went through three school systems -- Chinese, French and Vietnamese. Mainly Vietnamese and Chinese. In Chinese school I learned Mandarin, and in Vietnamese school, of course, I learned Vietnamese.

Q: So you do not feel any different than a Vietnamese person in Vietnam, and your friends, your colleagues, were all different people. All Chinese and Vietnamese.

Cambao: Yes. We lived together and I taught many years in the Vietnamese school. And I taught Vietnamese literature. I speak fluent Vietnamese, fluently, like any Vietnamese. So no one can treat me differently.

Q: So growing up in Vietnam during wartime, did that have any affect on your life at all?

Cambao: Surely. Because of the wartime, I was called to join the army. I received one year's training there. And because at that time I became an officer, a lieutenant, and so after 1975…. I mean, April 30…..I was ordered to get into a re-educational camp.

Q: Some of our viewers may not know what happened on April 30, 1975.

Cambao: April 30, '75 was the day South Vietnam collapsed. And the North Vietnam took over the South. It became one country after that. And the people living in the South had to suffer with the new regime policy and, because of that, a lot of people escaped from Vietnam. I believe about two million people escaped from Vietnam after that.

Q: So immediately following April 30, 1975, as a Chinese person living in Vietnam, did that have any impact on your family or your personal life at all?

Cambao: It impacted on my personal life because many reasons. One of the many reasons is I was in the army. The second reason was, I am a Chinese descent, and the third reason, I have a high educational background.

Q: Which army were you in?

Cambao: I was trained in Thu Duc, an Army Reserve Officer training school. Actually, I did not fight at any time.

Q: You were in the southern Vietnam army, not the northern Communist.

Cambao: No.

Q: After '75, then what happened?

Cambao: I was sent to the new regime concentration camp for re-education. That was a struggle. I had a hard life there. I stayed there more than three years. I had to struggle with many kinds of difficulty such as without food, and sick without medicine. And it caused me, from a strong man, it make me weaker. I lost a lot of weight. I lost about fifty pounds.

Q: And how old were you at this time?

Cambao: I was about 32 when I was in the camp.

Q: And you had already formed your own family?

Cambao: Yes. I just married for about four months. And I had to leave my wife. My son was born when I was in the camp.

Q: So how do you think your wife felt at the time?

Cambao: Of course she suffered. And I respect that she was able to stay to wait for me. Meanwhile, many people take the chance to escape from Vietnam. She had many opportunities to leave, but she stayed there to wait for me.

Q: Why do you think you survived those three years in the re-education camp, when so many people did not?

Cambao: I strongly believe that I did a lot of good things for people. I did not do anything to harm any people. As an educator, I taught my students not only become people with good knowledge, but also taught them to become good people, in order to serve society sooner or later -- even the new regime. My students understood me, and they believed me.

Q: Do you think you learned anything about your own strength at the time?

Cambao: I learned one thing: that you believed at certain thing, and you did the right thing, you’d get it.

Q: After you were released, three years later, how did you live your life?

Cambao: At that time a lot of people, as well as teachers, escaped from Vietnam to other countries. And Vietnamese needed teachers. So the new regime, the so-called Viet Cong, they released me to go back to teach in a high school. I became a high school teacher again and taught for three years.

Q: Is your whole family with you in America now?

Cambao: I, and my small sized family. My direct family, my relatives are still there, my brothers, sister, and nieces and nephews are still there.

Q: And how did you come to America?

Cambao: I had a sister-in-law and a brother-in-law living in America. They sponsored me. Meanwhile, I tried to find my way out. I tried many years, by boat. But I was unsuccessful. So I decided to wait for their sponsorship, and then I was lucky, because the United States government figured out I served in the South Vietnam government, so they allowed me to come to this country very soon after my application.

Q: And since coming to America, have you had the chance to go back to Vietnam at all?

Cambao: No. Totally not.

Q: Would you like to go back?

Cambao: I want to, but not at this point.

Q: So then you came to America in what year?

Cambao: I came to America at the end of 1983.

Q: And where did you go?

Cambao: I came to New York City immediately.

Q: And why did you decide to stay in New York City?

Cambao: There are some reasons I decided to settle in New York City. Because, first, I have a relative living in New York City. Second, I believe that New York City is the capitol of the world, and with that…

Q: So you came to New York City in 1983? You were not a refugee.

Cambao: I am a refugee.

Q: You are considered refugee status?

Cambao: Yes.

Q: But you came over….there's a program…what is it called?

Cambao: It's called ODP -- it stands for Orderly Departure Program. However, I had to stay in a Thailand refugee camp Panat Nikhom for a period of time, until the end of 1983. I came here because I have a brother-in-law living in New York City. And possibly I believe that (because of) my background the United States government accepted me as a refugee.

Q: So then you decided to stay in New York City.

Cambao: Yes.

Q: Why?

Cambao: There are some reasons. The first reason, I have a relative living in New York City. Secondly, I believe that New York City is the capitol of the world, and it is a diverse city with people … the city with people who come from all countries of the world. And I believe that we can avoid being discriminated (against). And finally, I believe in New York City it is easy for me to find a job.

Q: And was it easy for you to find a job?

Cambao: Yes. I just came for a short time and I found my first job, in Midtown.

Q: How did you find your first job?

Cambao: I was referred by an employment service agency to try some interviews, but was not successful. And I eventually found the first job as a food deliverer in midtown Manhattan. With, of course, very low pay -- $3.00 an hour, lower than minimum wage. That, I know. However, I needed to survive and feed my family. I had to take any job, with any pay. Luckily, besides salary I also got tips, so I could survive on that.

Q: How did you feel going from a very educated man who worked in many languages being a teacher, to being a middle-aged delivery boy in New York City?

Cambao: I understand, because without a job I cannot feed my family. So I had to accept even what many people consider a lower level job, with very low pay. I believe that I start with lower level, entry-level job, and later on I will find better work when my English gets improved.

Q: How much English did you know when you first came here?

Cambao: When I first came I knew very little English. So I had to attend an ESL class at the YMCA. I attended the ESL class for about six months. During that time I delivered food, I had the opportunity to talk to people. Even (though) my vocabulary was limited, but I believe I could speak fluently at that time. So when I found my second job, it was helpful for me to go through the interview.

Q: Before you actually came to America, what were your ideas of America? What did you think would be here waiting for you?

Cambao: At the beginning I didn't think about coming to the United States. I know France better. But I had no choice. So I come here. I know it is the land of the free. That’s what I love. Also, this is the country with the opportunities -- I found that that's true. I have no regrets for coming to this country.

Q: When you got here, even working as a delivery person, you still believed that this country had opportunities for you.

Cambao: I understand that I'm a newcomer. People don't know me. Whenever they know me, they will hire me for a more appropriate position. It proved that when I worked for a restaurant for a short period of time, the restaurant did not provide health insurance, of course. And then I tried to find a job with health insurance coverage. When I planned to resign from that restaurant they wanted to transfer me to a full time position. I forgot to tell you that my first job was part-time. How many hours I would work per day depending on the need of the restaurant. Some days it was about four hours, some days longer.

Q: And how long did you stay at that job, and how did that take you to the next job?

Cambao: I stayed on that job for more than two months. And then on some occasion I knew that there was an opening in a non-profit organization in Chinatown. So I went to apply even I didn't know, at that time, how to take a subway train to Chinatown.

Q: So as a person in 1983 New York had many Asians. So do you feel Chinese, do you feel Vietnamese? Is this an issue for you at all?

Cambao: It didn't bother me for thinking of myself as a Vietnamese or Chinese. Even before then I thought about that. However, after that I believe I found something -- it doesn't matter. No matter, Vietnamese or Chinese, it's one human being thing. So I treat all kinds of people no differently...I also hope people treat me no differently. No matter what color or what their educational background or what ethnic base.

Q: So if I were to ask you, Mr. Duong, where are you from, what would your answer be?

Cambao: I would say I'm from Vietnam. And when people ask me, who are you? They mean what country are you (from) I may say I'm a Chinese-Vietnamese.

Q: So then your next job was for….?

Cambao: I started to work in a non-profit organization with the lowest level position. It was called 'intake specialist'. It is to help people to fill out application forms. The kind of program I worked for is the refugee vocational training program. And, you know, that's after the stage of the boat people. A lot of Vietnamese and Cambodian and Laotian, they settled down in New York City. So that agency needed someone who not only can speak English but also can speak Vietnamese and Chinese, and know their culture, in order to help them. So I was hired to work on that position. But soon they found that I was an educator, and they allowed me to substitute some courses, like an accounting course. Even though I didn't know what accounting was, I spent time to study, I taught very well, and I was promoted to the skilled instructor position. And then they asked me to teach computer. I had to learn more knowledge about that. It made me decide to go back to school. And then I earned my BA degree in computer science from Hunter College.

Q: And why do you enjoy teaching?

Cambao: Oh, I love teaching, because when I was young, I dropped out from school for one semester. My principal, the person who cared about all the students, their education -- and because I was an excellent student in that school, I always ranked number one in the school -- and he came to my family and he talked to my relatives and my uncle allowed me to go back to study again, and he didn't charge any tuition, because I was the excellent student in that program. I look at him as a good example. He helped a lot of people. So I decided I want to be a teacher. And that's why I attend the Teacher’s College in Vietnam. And my whole life in Vietnam, I spent a lot of time teaching.

Q: So the next job you were also teaching refugees.

Cambao: Yes.

Q: Do you think your background made you a better teacher?

Cambao: The first thing is my background. Second thing, I committed to help other refugees. I know how hard it is for a refugee's life, like myself. Everybody has to stand on your own feet. So I tried, through my experience, I tried to help others do not fall into the same trap as I did.

Q: At this time were you living comfortably in New York, would you say? Making an okay living?

Cambao: I believe so, yes.

Q: How long did you stay at this job?

Cambao: I stayed at that agency for more than seventeen years. I was promoted many times when I was there. From skill instructor, to program coordinator, to resource developer, to program director, to agency coordinator, and then to the agency deputy executive director.

Q: As director, did you try to implement any changes?

Cambao: Yes, I did make a lot of changes. Because, for me, color, and any background, is not so important. I'm thinking we're all human beings here. And because of that, I brought in a lot of funding to serve not only concentrated on Asians, but also serve the non-Asian population, too.

Q: So your work is in Chinatown at this time.

Cambao: Yes.

Q: What does Chinatown mean to you? Is it just a workplace, or is this a place where you feel at home? Do you feel connected to other people like yourself?

Cambao: I feel Chinatown is a very wonderful place. It's warm. Even if it's not so clean, okay, it's a good place for people to visit, to work, and especially for people who like to eat here.

Q: Tell me a little bit more about types of people you work with. Seventeen years is a very long time to stay in one job. What kept you there for so long?

Cambao: I said Chinatown is a wonderful place. Besides, I can use my skills and knowledge in teaching. And also I am able to help many newcomers. Including social services people. I forgot to tell you, besides computer science, I also received an MSW from NYU. And I am able to help people to change. When people face the difficulty with child abuse problems, I know the ways to handle it, and I can speak their languages. So I advise some people to avoid their children taken by the Administration for Children Services.

Q: When you first came, were there any organizations that you joined that helped you assimilate into American life?

Cambao: No, none at all or I don’t know about. I joined many associations to volunteer to serve people. I think I'm mature enough to help others except having language barrier. I know this country’s culture very well, too.

Q: Where did you learn about the culture?

Cambao: I learned from books, I read a lot in my country. Of course they were in Vietnamese or Chinese. So when I came to New York I found that New York was not like whatever I cannot cope with.

Q: And in this time… Can you give me a better idea of what Chinatown was like when you arrived, at that time? In the 80s.

Cambao: I see, first thing, the population even it was crowded, but in the small areas. At that time, I believe, there was about 70,000 Chinese in Manhattan's Chinatown…. here…. compared to Cho Lon in the south part of Saigon in South Vietnam. There was about 700,000 Chinese there. So for me, it was very small. At that time I saw that the Chinese in Chinatown here is an old generation. They speak either Toishanese or Cantonese. And I saw Chinatown is about from south of Canal to Worth Street to Center Street.

Q: Let's try to get a better sense of Chinatown in 1983. When you came.

Cambao: '84, actually.

Q: '84.

Cambao: I came to Chinatown in mid-March in 1984. I didn't know Chinatown until that day. I thought Chinatown was a small place, but warm. It's a wonderful place for people to visit, to work here, and to eat here. I see the population, it was crowded in Chinatown. But I learned from census data in the ‘80 it was about 30,000 Chinese in Chinatown, in Manhattan, compared to Cho-lon a part of Saigon in South Vietnam before 1975, there were 700,000 Chinese there, so I saw that it was a small town. However, I saw it's a good place for me to work here because I can meet people who speak my languages, including people who speak Vietnamese in Chinatown. Even at that time I saw only three or four Vietnamese grocery stores in Chinatown. And on Mulberry Street here, two were here. And one was at the corner of Bayard and Mulberry. And beside I see Chinatown in a positive way. I also see the negative way. It was dirty. And many times we heard about people who have committed a crime, including gangsters in Chinatown. They have different names, and also at that time they started to have Vietnamese gangs, too. It was just starting.

Q: Would you say you had a sense of belonging here? You felt comfortable in Chinatown?

Cambao: Yes, I felt very comfortable to work with my co-workers. Even if my co-workers are black or white, but the majority of them are Asians, including Chinese majority of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China. We also had Asian workers from Singapore, from the Philippines, from Korea.

Q: Did you visit other cities in America, or you decided that you were going to stay?

Cambao: I visited many other cities on occasions when I attended seminars or conferences in other cities. I went to the west coast; I went to the north, to the south, to many states and cities. However, I found New York City was probably the city I liked the most because of many reasons. Here, I can see anything I want to see, but many other cities do not have it.

Q: Did you experience any discrimination, because in the early 80s there was still a lot of feeling about the Vietnam War. As a person from Vietnam did you personally experience any prejudice or discrimination?

Cambao: Probably not because I was a Vietnamese. In answer to your question -- discrimination -- I have this kind of feeling like people look at me like a homeless person, because I went to pick up the old winter coats for my family and myself, the bus driver did not allow me to get into the bus. My educational background taught me that I had to let elderly, females, and children get into the bus first. I was the last one. And the bus driver, he closed the door when I put my foot at the bus step. Luckily, many other people were so nice to yell at him, "Let him in." Because I carried a garbage bag, a black one, to put my clothing that I had just received in that and he thought that I was a homeless guy. So he didn't allow me to get in. I believe he did not know if I'm Chinese or Korean or Vietnamese or Japanese. We all look similar.

Q: How did that make you feel to have to go and get free clothing -- was that the Salvation Army? Is that the kind of places you went to?

Cambao: I believe that's associated with the United States Catholic Charity (USCC). My caseworker at USCC told me the address and I went there to pick it up. I believe that's not the Salvation Army.

Q: So when you got to America, what was your financial situation? Were you able to bring any money over? Or you came with nothing?

Cambao: I came with nothing. But I got assistance from the USCC. That's government money. (They) assisted me through that agency. Each member of my family received two hundred dollars assistance at the beginning. So that two hundred dollars released me temporarily the first time I came to this country, and then I started to work and make my own living.

Q: But where did you live when you first got here?

Cambao: I lived…I shared an apartment with my relative in the upper west side of Manhattan.

Q: So the government did not help you as far as finding housing or put you in a home.

Cambao: No. Not at all.

Q: Did that form any impressions about the land of the free for you?

Cambao: I wanted to be independent. If the government could help me at that time, I appreciate it. I believe that that kind of policy changed. The government could not help me so much. So I had decided to stay on my own.

Q: So Chinatown in 84, you said, was very crowded, and there was a lot more crime. And through the work you do, at the time, did you personally and professionally try to make any changes in Chinatown?

Cambao: I believe I did. I did a lot at that time besides my job. In my job I was able to help the young people from Vietnam to enroll in our program. When I became a program director, actually, I did not work so directly with them. I didn't need it. However, I still worked very closely with them, I provided private counseling in my office and make them aware that to concentrate in starting to look for a new job is better than getting involved with any activity that is not legal. I also participated in many associations. I was a co-founder for the Greater New York Vietnamese American Community Association, as well as the Indo-China Sino-American Senior Citizen/Community Center. And through these two agencies…. I forgot to tell you, I also am the co-founder of the Vietnamese Magazine that I can write and put the message for people to learn about the community, and about Chinatown, too. And through two agencies and one magazine I was able to help Vietnamese people to get funding to enroll in one program called (the) Youth Leadership Development Program. The funds come from the New York City Department of Youth Services, at that time. And Mayor Dinkins at that time had an impression on me after I spoke at a citywide conference sponsored by the US Department of Justice in New York City. And he supported my point of view -- we have to help the newcomers, especially young people, to know, to give them the direction where to go. And for the Senior Center, the Indo-China Senior Center, I set up a place for people to come to read newspapers, to share information, to play chess, so they won't feel so lonely. And I know that many elderly from Vietnam only can speak certain Chinese dialects, they cannot integrate into many Chinatown senior centers. Let’s say that downstairs here we have the Chinatown Senior Center. Our people from Vietnam, they came in there, they could not speak the language people use down there. So the Indo-China Senior Center could help people who speak the same languages have a place to come to rest and, to eat and to play. And the government recognized our work, and after I submitted certain proposals, these two agencies received funding to run the certain programs. And that helped the government did not have a negative look at the Chinese community, especially the Vietnamese community, the smaller one here. And I would like to mention that during the Chinatown had the Born to Kill problem, the Asian community in general -- the Chinese and Vietnamese community was invited to participate in many conferences and meetings, even at the police headquarters. And I learned that one bad exercise called Saigon Mission was established at the 5th Precinct. You know the term 'Vietnam Rose' is used to imply venereal disease during the Vietnam War. 'The Vietnam Rose' is used to (sounds like) involve Vietnamese about the disease when the American soldiers have sex with Vietnamese ladies. So I had the feeling that Saigon Mission is the other unfair way to treat Vietnamese in Chinatown here. So I strongly raised my voice to against the use of that term. Eventually the police headquarters agreed with me and give the order to precincts and captains that they had to take the name out. That's one. And I participated in some other activities. Such as I served as an advisor to the Board of Education’s chancellor. At that time there was one story about the Amerasian who was 15. His story was aired on Channel 13. A young boy, 15, came to the United States and was adopted to live with foster parents. And he was sent to attend the ninth grade in a high school. Meanwhile, he was discriminated against in Vietnam because he was an Amerasian. He looked like an American, and he was mistreated in the Vietnam school system. He only had two years' education in Vietnam, and he came to this country and he was enrolled in the ninth grade. So he could not understand and he dropped out. He became a gangster in the Born to Kill. I learned that through his caseworker, and I learned that through the Channel 13 article. So I raised my voice in a chancellor council advisory committee meeting. I said it clearly that providing education to the newcomers, to immigrants and refugees, it needs to be based on their educational background rather than on their ages. And I believe that the chancellor at that time agreed with me. And now the newcomers will be tested before they are enrolled into whatever level in the city. And also, the city education system continues to provide the bilingual education to newcomer children. I also, with some friends, established the Shuang Wen (dual languages) School. Now it is located at the end of East Broadway at Grand Street. PS 134. And it was a very successful school; it has run for five years. And this year for the fourth grade citywide reading test, it was ranked number four in the whole city. And early in this fiscal year the US Department of Education secretary, Dr. Paige, went down to visit that school. I believe that even the newcomers, when we spend time and participate, we can make a difference.

Q: Many of our teachers, when they first come to America, tend to work very hard to earn enough money to live. Why do you think you have invested so much of your time to do community involved volunteer work when you could be working for money for your family?

Cambao: I did work very hard. Sometimes I did more than one job. And I worked in the evening time and I worked during weekends. We were paid cash. I went to New Jersey to help people, my friend who sells watches, one day. They paid me fifty dollars per day. I believe that education and social services are two factors that can change our society. So I committed myself when I thought I was ready, and I believed I was capable to do those things, so I participated, and joined many agencies.

Q: And have you encountered any difficulties in your work?

Cambao: Yes, I do. Like I did not pay attention so much to my ethnic background, but people did not think that way. The Vietnamese, they treated me like: "Oh, you are Chinese." Probably Chinese people, I strongly believe, they treat me like a Vietnamese. And of course, Americans, they don't treat me like an American. Okay? If some say to me (call me) politely like an Asian American, that is I appreciate it. But many times they say that 'you are Vietnamese' or 'you are Chinese'. They don't say, 'you are Asian-American.' I hope I can join in and hopefully the young generation will do more things to help to change people's image on prejudice on this issue.

Q: How?

Cambao: I don't know how. But I believe that if you don't try, you won't get it. That’s my point of view. We try, and then see if we can change or not.

Q: So even in a city as diverse as New York City, do you think there is racial harmony in this city?

Cambao: Racial harmony -- we raise a question in this way. It depends on how we define 'harmony', in what way. If we say that, sometimes we have arguments because ethnic differences are normal for me. I don't want to jump to conclusions, like in certain cases people so easily jump to conclusions of discrimination. Like a color discrimination or whatever discrimination. I didn't jump to that unless we have evidence.

Q: I'm going to jump forward a little bit.

Cambao: Okay.

Q: To September 11, 2001. Where were you at that time?

Cambao: I was in Chinatown, here. I witnessed the two towers collapse, and I was very sad. And that time, when the second tower was hit by the plane, I believe that from my own experience of living through the Vietnam War, I believe that's not an accident. I did order that my staff and students at the agency I worked at – it’s about two hundred people -- to leave the agency to go home. However, at the top, I have a boss, the executive director -- she came in after me. She used the intercom to tell me: "That's an accident." I told her, "I believe that's not an accident. That wouldn't happen twice." And she said that we could not let everybody go home because if the government or the funding agencies checked, what could we do. I was unable to answer her question at that time, because I believed people lives are more important than the other, so I let the staff and students leave the agency. Some staff members were stopped by her on the staircase and had to come back to the agency and stay late on that day. I had to stay until about two. And then have lunch in Chinatown. I had no train to go home. I came home very late. I think that day was a very sad day. And you can see after that the country, especially the cities, the economic situation, went down. Many people lost their job. And we faced more difficulty as a social service agency. Many people came to us even they were not eligible for our services. But still, I had to spend some of my time to help them. And working in Chinatown, it was much near my home compared to my current job site, I usually came home late, because I had to spend more time to serve my clientele here.

Q: And on an impact level, did September 11th impact your job?

Cambao: Yes. It made my job harder. Because, like I said before, more people came to me, even they were not eligible for our service.

Q: As an agency, did you try to find ways to get more resources and to get more money to help our people?

Cambao: Yes. Besides running my own program, where I oversee the agency and some parts of the operations, for a certain time we have to spend some time to look for funding. And I was able to get for the agency an additional $300,000. I received a check from Chicago. One foundation called McCormick Tribune Foundation, they gave our agency $300,000 to serve the people impacted by 9/11. They saw our program was one of the top programs. We had been selected to receive their funding. And also at the same time my boss had a connection with a federal government agency, and we got additional funding to serve the people.

Q: Do you think your personal background, all the difficulties that you have personally experienced, has prepared you for situations like this?

Cambao: I strongly believe so. Because I lived through the Vietnam War, so I have to be sensitive to hear the sound, to see the things, in order to avoid being hurt during the Vietnam War. And also more than three years living in the new regime -- South Vietnam new regime -- in a concentration camp, it prepared me to face the difficulties.

Q: Did you want to leave Vietnam if your life hadn't changed the way it did after 1975?

Cambao: Of course I did not want to. Even the change of '75 events, I still strongly believe that it's a good place to live, and to utilize my knowledge to help people. But the new regime did not accept me. They didn't want me to stay there. So I had to leave.

Q: You felt that you had no choice.

Cambao: I had no choice.

Q: Do you feel you have lost your home, in a way?

Cambao: Financially, that's true. I lost a lot of property there. I lost many homes there. I owned land and homes over there. That's why I came to this country. I didn't buy gold, like many other Asians and Chinese would buy gold. They can use gold to buy a boat to escape from Vietnam. I did not have that.

Q: When I say 'home' I don't mean just a house or property, but a sense of belonging because you have two generations of your family had been in Vietnam. It was like you lost your country, in a way.

Cambao: That's true. Thank you for understanding about that part.

Q: So have you rebuilt a home in New York City?

Cambao: In terms of 'home', that's true.

Q: Do you feel you belong here, you feel comfortable here, you will stay here for the rest of your life and future generations?

Cambao: At this point, my answer is yes. I don't know what will happen in the future.

Q: So tell us about your work presently.

Cambao: Okay. Currently I work for a Jewish American association. It has established a new branch in Brooklyn and I was hired last year to run the branch in Brooklyn. It's an employment placement service agency. We help everybody until the end of last year. Because of funding shrinking, now we can only help people on public assistance.

Q: I know that your job is no longer in Chinatown, but it's almost twenty years that you've been part of this community. What are some of the biggest changes that you've seen here?

Cambao: Actually, nineteen years. I've been in this country nineteen years. I've seen changes, a lot, in Chinatown. Even though I am not working in Chinatown, but I still come back to Chinatown. I volunteer to serve on the board as a president of the Eastern Vietnam-Cambodian-Laos-Chinese Decent Association. I usually go there to oversee the books and to provide services to elderly and needy people. So I see things change compared to the time I came to Chinatown in March of 1984. I see the population change. A lot of people come from Fujian to come to Chinatown. And I learned through the census -- 2000 -- that I participated, and I found that there are a lot of undocumented residents living in New York City. They're living here, but working in other cities, or out of the city. They must have the place to live in Chinatown. As I know you may have paid attention to the newspaper a couple of days ago. At 81 Bowery, the fourth floor, one floor is about two to three thousand square feet. More than a hundred people live up there. Okay. First the population changed. Of course the language changed too. In the past, Toishanese and Cantonese were spoken in Chinatown. But now, Fujianese and Mandarin gradually were used in many places. I've seen more stores open, and the area of Chinatown was expanded to the north of Canal. A lot. However, it was not much on the south of Canal. And to the west on Canal, it was expanded to Broadway. There's a big change, and one positive change I like very much -- Chinatown is cleaner compared to the past. I would like to acknowledge the Cleaning Chinatown Committee, led by Danny Lee, Eva Tan, Bill Lam, and many other business people in Chinatown here. And I see a lot of positive things in Chinatown here. Now they even still have gangsters, but they are not so active like in the past. So the crime rate went down consecutively in the past five years. More than five years.

Q: Do you think Chinatown, as a neighborhood, received less funding for things like sanitation, and traffic, than other areas? It is obviously very crowded and still dirty, compared to other areas of Manhattan.

Why do you think that is?

Cambao: Because we didn't raise our voice strong enough for people to hear, especially to the elected officers. They thought that we did not have this kind of need. Some agencies did apply, but they were not strong enough to make the funding agencies believe that Chinatown has this kind of need.

Q: Do you think Chinatown as a community and the residents of Chinatown speak up to make changes for the community, or are they more worried about themselves?

Cambao: Frankly, I see they are not united to the level as I expected to make the community strong and make the funding agencies believe they represent for the Chinatown community, to fight for the Chinatown community's benefit. Some agencies just care about their own agencies’ operation, and they try to get the funding for the services they provide, not for the whole of Chinatown. That's easy to understand. Because they specialize in their field, they fight for their field money. I hope that Chinatown in the long run will have some leader to put everybody together and make it strong like I experienced in the Chinese community in Vietnam. They were so strong. When they wanted to do some things, the leaders said something and no one turned it down. But here it seems everybody was a leader, and it seems that we have no leader.

Q: Is it really possible, when you have so many different groups in Chinatown -- as you said, there's now the Fujianese, you have the Cantonese, the Toishanese, there's many, many different groups -- who would this leader be?

Cambao -- At this point I see one positive thing happening in the Fujianese (community). They were so close to it. They started to provide service to their community, let’s say ESL. This is a good thing. Did you see any other agency provide it beside a non-profit organization? It's not happening to the other ethnic group -- I mean the other like dialect speaking groups. Only the Fujianese. I see that happens to their community and because of that some people (certain level of government representatives) cared and came down to visit them. And whenever the elected officers need money, they will come to them. And it's a two-way direction. If they support certain people, of course in return they can get something from them to support their community.

Q -- So because of the proximity, we know that Chinatown suffered huge business losses after September 11th. Do you think now, two years later, Chinatown is back? Is business back to usual as before September 11th or still in the rebuilding stages?

Cambao: On the surface I see the restaurant business has come back. However, I don't think the garment factories, the other main business in Chinatown, have not come back yet.

Q: Will they come back, do you think?

Cambao: According to my understanding, even (though) I'm not in that field, because of the trade issue the central government has signed certain agreements with foreign countries, I don't think this garment factory industry will come back to New York City, here, especially Chinatown. In the United States the cost of labor is more expensive compared to send the clothing making to Mexico or to China. So I don't think it will come back. Some people need to think about a change in the services in Chinatown, here, or the model of business in Chinatown, here, in order to make Chinatown become a more wonderful place for people. To attract tourists to come here is one of many ways.

Q: Can you really see a future where Chinatown is unified, with all the different groups have a strong leadership? Or that they could put their differences aside and work towards the greater good of the community. Can you really see that happening?

Cambao: I don't see one leader. But many leaders can work on the same goal, or for the same project, even though they have different points of view. But for the benefits of the whole community they can work on a project, and then we can work with many leaders, not only one leader.

Q: Do you have any goal to run for any office?

Cambao: No.

Q: Why not?

Cambao: My age and my health do not allow me to do so.

Q: But if not for your age and your health, would you consider it?

Cambao: I think I'm more suitable in the social service field. Two weeks ago I just went to talk to a group of parents at PS 69, and today I have many other schools that want to invite me to talk to parents. So hopefully that can help the newcomers to know the America better, and then they can make themselves…adjust themselves…to fit into this country. And this society.

Q: When you look back at your life, do you think you are an American success story?

Cambao: I don't think so.

Q: Why not?

Cambao: Many people define the 'success story'….you have to…in Chinese term for Mandarin: (explains in Mandarin -- Four things. You need to have a house. Have a car, have a wife, and children.). I only have two.

Q: Okay. (Voices overlap here).

Cambao: Four things. You need to have a house. Have a car, have a wife, and children. I only have the last two. I didn't have a house. I didn't have a car. I don't define success by that way. I believe I can live comfortable and I treat people the way I hope people will treat me. In this term, I'm so happy to see that happen to me. For instance, I lost my job. Partly I believe that the way I demonstrate myself, people…not everybody likes me. And myself, I follow the philosophy that I'm not here to please everybody. I think the right thing is right, and I will do that. And after I lost the job, many people who know me, they call and they share and they offer me…let me know information to get a new job. And I found that a lot of people did that for me.

Q: So when you look back at the years you've lost in Vietnam, your golden years, in your thirties, when you were in the education camp, very difficult years, are you bitter at all?

Cambao: Of course. I don't want to mention that thing, because it brings the sad memories back to me.

Q: So what do you think is most important for you to pass on to your children?

Cambao: I told my son and my daughter to be an honorable person, and also you need to think about what you promise to people. When you promise something, you need to keep your word. These are the two things I passed on to my children. And I strongly believe at this point…I thought my son was able to handle this. I don't know about my daughter yet. I hope that when she graduates from college and when she goes to work and faces real life, I will see what happens to her.

Q: Is there anything that I have not asked you that you want to tell us?

Cambao: I have a lot of things to tell but I don't think it's appropriate to put in here.

[End Interview]

Chinatown Interview: Interview (zh)

<p>
問﹕請先講一下你的姓名,以及你是哪里人。</p>
<p>Cambao:我叫Cambao de Duong。我來自南越西貢。</p>
<p>問:你能否跟我們講一下你在越南的生活?</p>
<p>Cambao:好的。我是越南出生的華僑。我在越南讀書長大,後來在越南西貢和Kien Tuong教書。我曾擔任西貢一間學校的校長。我在教師學院的語言學校任教直至1975年4月30日。因爲我受雇于南越軍隊,所以能讓我參加十天新政府的研討會已經算不錯了。</p>
<p>問:先打斷一下。你說你的父母都是中國人。你父母是不是從中國去了越南?</p>
<p>Cambao:是的。</p>
<p>問:作爲在越南長大的中國人,你的生活同一般的越南人有什麽不同嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:我想沒有什麽差別,因爲我們住的那個地方有中國人和越南人。因此,我們沒有語言障礙,大家都很友善。</p>
<p>問:你在家裏講什么語言?在學校裏都學了些什么?</p>
<p>
Cambao:在家裏,我們通常講自己的方言---Chao Chow。有時我們也講很多其他的語言,比如越南話。有時我們講廣州話。但在學校,我受了三種教學系統的教育---中文,法文,和越南語。主要是越南語和中文。在中文學校,我學習國語;在越南學校,我當然學越南語。</p>
<p>問:那你不覺得同那些越南本地的越南人有什麽不同嗎?你的朋友和你的同事都是不同的人,都是中國人和越南人。</p>
<p>Cambao:是的。我們在一起相處,我在越南的學校教了很多年書。而且,我教的是越南文學。我講流利的越南語,和越南人一樣流利。因此,沒有任何人會覺得我和其他人有什麽不一樣。</p>
<p>問:戰爭期間在越南長大,這對你的生活有什么影響嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:當然。由於是戰爭時期,我被征軍。我在那裏接受了一年的訓練。在那時,我成爲了一名軍官,中尉。因此在1975年之後---,我是說,4月30日---,我被關進了勞改營。</p>
<p>問:一些人可能不知道1975年4月30日發生了什么事情。</p>
<p>Cambao:1975年4月30日是南越政府倒臺的日子。北越佔領了南越。從此國家統一了。南方人不得不忍受新政府的政策。正是因爲這個原因,很多人逃離了越南。我想在那之後大約有兩百萬人離開了越南。</p>
<p>問:作爲在越南生活的華人,在1975年4月30日後,這個事件是否影響到你的家人或你個人的生活?</p>
<p>
Cambao:它對我個人生活的影響有若干個原因。其一,我還在軍隊裏。其二,我有中國血統。其三,我有很好的教育背景。</p>
<p>問:你是在哪一支軍隊裏?</p>
<p>Cambao:我在Thu Duc接受訓練,是一所後備役軍官培訓學校。實際上,我沒有參加過戰鬥。</p>
<p>問:你是在南越的軍隊裏,不是北方的共產黨。</p>
<p>Cambao:是的。</p>
<p>問:75年之後發生了什么事情?</p>
<p>Cambao:我被送到新政府的集中營改造。那是一場鬥爭。那裏的生活很艱苦。我在那裏待了三年多。我必須面對很多困難,比如沒有食物,生病沒有藥吃。我從一個強健的人變得很虛弱。我的體重減輕了很多。我大約減輕了五十磅。</p>
<p>問:你那時有多大年紀?</p>
<p>Cambao:我進集中營的時候大概是32歲。</p>
<p>問:你當時已經成家了嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:是的。大概在被關的四個月前,我剛剛結了婚。我不得不離開我的太太。我兒子是在我被關在集中營的時候出生的。</p>
<p>問:你認爲那個時候你太太的感受如何?</p>
<p>
Cambao:她當然吃了不少苦。我尊敬她能夠一直等我。在那時,很多人冒險逃離越南。她有很多機會能夠離開,但她沒有走,一直等到我出來。</p>
<p>問:爲什么你在集中營關了三年後還能活下來,而很多人卻沒有?</p>
<p>Cambao:我堅信我爲了人們做了很多好事。我沒有做過任何傷害別人的事情。作爲一個執教人員,我不僅向我的學生傳授了很多知識,而且也教他們要成爲正直的人,以後好爲社會服務---即使是新的政府。我的學生都理解我,他們也相信我。</p>
<p>問:那段時期,你是否知道了自己的實力?</p>
<p>Cambao:我學會了一件事情:如果堅信一些事情,而且做正確的事情,你會實現你的目標的。</p>
<p>問:三年後,你被釋放之後,你的生活怎么樣?</p>
<p>Cambao:在那個時候,很多人,包括教師,離開越南逃離到其他國家。越南人需要教師。因此,新政府,所謂的越共(Viet Cong),釋放了我,讓我在一所高中教課。我又成爲了一名高中教師,在那裏教了三年。</p>
<p>問:現在你的全家是否和你一起住在美國?</p>
<p>Cambao:我和我的小家庭。我的家人和親戚仍然在那裏,我的兄弟姐妹,侄女和外甥還在那裏。</p>
<p>問:你是怎樣來到美國的?</p>
<p>
Cambao:我太太的兄弟姐妹在美國。他們申請我過來的。同時,我也一直在找機會出來。我試了許多年,坐船。但都沒有成功。所以,我就決定等他們的申請。後來,我非常幸運,因爲美國政府發現我曾爲南越政府工作,因此在我申請之後他們便很快讓我來到這國家。</p>
<p>問:自從你來到美國之後,你是否有機會回越南?</p>
<p>Cambao:沒有,完全沒有。</p>
<p>問:你想回去嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:我想,但不是現在。</p>
<p>問:你是哪一年來美國的?</p>
<p>Cambao:我是1983年年底來美國的。</p>
<p>問:你去了哪里?</p>
<p>Cambao:我立即來到紐約市。</p>
<p>問:你爲什么決定住在紐約市?</p>
<p>Cambao:我決定留在紐約市有以下一些原因。首先,我有一個親戚住在紐約市。其次,我覺得紐約市是世界首都,以及---</p>
<p>問:那你是1983年來紐約的嗎?你不是難民。</p>
<p>
Cambao:我是難民。</p>
<p>問:你是難民身份?</p>
<p>Cambao:是的。</p>
<p>問:但你是---,有一個專案---,是叫什么來的?</p>
<p>Cambao:叫ODP---全稱有秩序離開的專案(Orderly Departure Program)。但我必須要在泰國Panat Nikhom難民營待一段時間,直到1983年底。我來這裏是因爲我太太的兄弟住在紐約市。我猜想因爲我的背景美國政府把我作爲難民而接收我進來的。</p>
<p>問:然後你決定要留在紐約市。</p>
<p>Cambao:是的。</p>
<p>問:爲什么?</p>
<p>Cambao:有幾個原因。第一,我有個親戚住在紐約市。第二,我認爲紐約市是世界的首都,是個多樣化的城市,這裏的人來自全世界的各個國家。同時,我想我們不會受到歧視。最後,我想我在紐約市比較容易找到工作。</p>
<p>問:你找工作容易嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:容易。我只來了不久就在中城找到了第一份工作。</p>
<p>問:你是怎樣找到第一份工作的?</p>
<p>
Cambao:一個就業服務機構讓我去一些地方面試,但是沒有效果。最後,我找到的第一份工是在曼哈頓中城送外賣。當然,工資非常少,每小時3美元,比最低工資還要少。這我是知道的。但我必須生存,養家糊口。我必須打工,即使工錢很少。還好,除了工資以外,我也有小費。因此我能夠以此度日。</p>
<p>問:從一個懂好幾種語言、受過高等教育的教師到一個紐約市送外賣的中年人,你的感受如何?</p>
<p>Cambao:我知道,如果沒有工作,我不能養活我的家人。所以,我不得不做很多人認爲很低下、廉價的工作。我想我先做一些低下、不需要任何技能的工作,以後等我英文有了提高之後再找更好的工作。</p>
<p>問:你剛來這裏的時候懂多少英文?</p>
<p>Cambao:我剛來的時候只懂一點點英文。所以,我要去YMCA上ESL課。我上了六個月的ESL課程。那個時候,我在送外賣,有機會和別人交流。儘管我的辭彙量有限,但我想我那個時候講得還算流利。所以,當我找第二份工作去面試的時候,我的英文對我有很大幫助。</p>
<p>問:在你來美國之前,你對美國的印象如何?你覺得你在這裏的生活會是怎樣?</p>
<p>Cambao:開始的時候,我沒有太多想來美國後的情況。我的法語要好一些。但我沒有其他選擇。於是,我就到了這裏。我知道這裏是自由的地方。那是我所向往的。而且,這個國家有很多機會---我發現這是真的。來這個國家我沒有任何惋惜。</p>
<p>
問:即使你到這裏的時候送外賣,你仍然相信你在這個國家有很多機會。</p>
<p>Cambao:我知道我是新來的。別人都不認識我。當他們認識我之後,他們會雇我做更加適合我的工作。當然,在餐館做了很短一段時間之後,我發現餐館不提供健康保險。然後,我就想找一份有健康保險的工作。當我想辭掉餐館工作的時候,他們想讓我轉做全職。我忘了告訴你我第一份工作是半職的。我每天做多長時間取決於餐館的需要。有時是四個小時,有時更長。</p>
<p>問:你在那裏做了多久?後來又是怎樣找到下一份工作的?</p>
<p>Cambao:我在那裏做了兩個多月。後來,我知道唐人街一個非營利組織在招人。於是,我就去那裏申請,即使我那時還不知道怎樣坐地鐵去唐人街。</p>
<p>問:1983年紐約有很多亞洲人。你覺得自己是中國人,還是越南人?這對你是個問題嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:我並不太想自己到底是越南人還是中國人,儘管在那之前我有考慮過這個問題。但在那之後,我想我找到了答案---這無關緊要。越南人也好,中國人也好,始終都是人。所以,我是同樣看待各種各樣人的。同時,我也希望別人如此看待我,無論是什麽人種,教育背景,或種族。</p>
<p>問:如果我問你,Duong先生,你是哪里人,你會怎樣回答?</p>
<p>Cambao:我會說我是越南人。如果別人問我‘你是誰?’他們是想問你是從哪個國家來的,我可能會說我是越南華僑。</p>
<p>
問:你下一個工作是做---?</p>
<p>Cambao:我開始在一個非營利組織做最基礎的工作,叫做‘客戶專家’,幫人們填申請表格。我涉及的專案是難民職業培訓。那是在船民時期之後,很多越南人、柬埔寨人,和老撾人來到紐約市。所以,那個機構需要找一個不僅能講英文,而且能將越南話和中文,瞭解他們文化的人來幫助他們。所以,他們雇我做這些事情。但很快他們知道我是搞教育的,於是他們允許我教一些課程,比如會計課。儘管我不懂會計,我花時間學,我教得很好,被晉升到經驗教師的職位。後來,他們又要我教電腦。我必須學習那些方面的知識。因此,我決定再回學校學習。後來,我在Hunter學院獲得電腦科學的學士學位。</p>
<p>問:你爲什么喜歡教書?</p>
<p>Cambao:我喜歡教書是因爲在我小的時候有一個學期我輟學。我的校長關心所有的學生和他們的教育---。因爲我在那個學校是個很優秀的學生,我在那裏經常考試第一名。他到我家和我家人談話,我叔叔就讓我回學校上學了。他沒有收任何學費,因爲我在那裏是個優秀的學生。我把他作爲一個好榜樣。他幫助了很多人。於是,我決定要成爲一名教師。正因爲此,我在越南上了教師學院。在越南的時候,我大部分時間都在教書。</p>
<p>問:所以,你下一份工作是教難民。</p>
<p>Cambao:是的。</p>
<p>
問:你是否認爲你的背景使你成爲一名更好的教師嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:第一是我的背景。第二,我非常想幫助其他難民。通過我自己的經歷,我知道難民的生活有多么艱苦。每個人都要靠自己。因爲我自己的經歷,我想幫助其他人,這樣他們不至於走我走過的彎路。</p>
<p>問:在那時你在紐約生活得很舒服,是不是?還過得去?</p>
<p>Cambao:我想是的。</p>
<p>問:你這份工做了有多久?</p>
<p>Cambao:我在那個機構做了十七年多。在那裏的時候,我曾多次被晉升。從技能指導到專案協調員,到資源開發員,到專案主任,到機構協調員,後來是機構行政副主任。</p>
<p>問:作爲主任,你是否嘗試實行一些改革?</p>
<p>Cambao:有,我們做了很多改進。因爲對於我來講,膚色和背景不是太重要。我覺得我們大家都是人。因此,我沒有把資金全部用來服務亞洲人,也有其他非亞洲人。</p>
<p>問:那時你是在唐人街工作?</p>
<p>Cambao:是的。</p>
<p>
問:唐人街對你意味著什么?是不是僅是一個工作的地方,還是說你覺得像是自己的家?你是否感覺和其他同樣背景的人很親近?</p>
<p>Cambao:我認爲唐人街是一個非常好的地方。很熱鬧。即使不是非常乾淨,還是人們旅遊、工作的好去處,尤其對那些喜歡在這裏吃飯的人。</p>
<p>問:請再談一下和你工作的都是一些什么樣的人。十七年做同一份工實在是很久。是什么使你在那裏呆那么久?</p>
<p>Cambao:我說過唐人街是一個好地方。除此之外,我能運用我的技巧和知識教學。而且,我能夠幫助很多新來的人,包括一些社工。我忘了跟你講,除了電腦科學以外,我還在紐約大學獲得了社會工作碩士學位。我能夠幫助人們改變。當別人遇到虐待兒童的問題的時候,我知道如果解決,而且我講他們的語言。這樣,我給他們提建議,這樣他們的孩子就不會被兒童服務管理處的人帶走。</p>
<p>問:你剛到這裏的時候,有沒有什么組織幫助你適應美國的生活?</p>
<p>Cambao:沒有,或者我不知道。我參加了很多協會,志願爲人們服務。我想我已經足夠成熟,能夠幫助別人,只不過有語言障礙。我也很瞭解這個國家的文化。</p>
<p>問:你是怎樣瞭解這裏的文化的?</p>
<p>Cambao:我有讀書,我在我的國家讀了很多書。當然,那些是越南文或中文書。所以,在我來到紐約時,我發現紐約並不是很難適應。</p>
<p>
問:在那個時候---,你能再跟我講一下你來的那個時候唐人街是什么樣的嗎?在80年代。</p>
<p>Cambao:讓我想一想,首先,人還是很多,但地方很小。那個時候,我想,和南越西貢南部的Cho Lon比起來,曼哈頓唐人街大概有七萬華人。這裏大概有七萬華人。對於我來講還是很少的。那個時候,唐人街的華人都是老人。他們講臺山話或廣州話。唐人街差不多在Canal街以南,到Worth街和Center街。</p>
<p>問:讓我們詳細談一下1983年你來這裏時唐人街的情況。</p>
<p>Cambao:實際上是84年。</p>
<p>問:84年。</p>
<p>Cambao:我於1984年3月中旬來到唐人街。在那之前,我還不知道有唐人街。我以爲唐人街是一個很小的地方,但很熱鬧。是人們旅遊、工作和就餐的好地方。唐人街有很多人,很擁擠。80年代人口普查統計曼哈頓唐人街大概有三萬華人,而1975年以前南越西貢的Cho-lon有七十萬華人。所以,我覺得是個小地方。但我認爲是我工作的好地方,因爲我講那裏的語言,包括唐人街講越南語的人。就在那個時候,唐人街就有三、四家越南雜貨店。Mulberry街有一家,這裏有兩家。一家在Bayard和Mulberry交口處。我覺得唐人街很好,但我也有看到消極的一面,太髒。我聽說這裏很亂,經常出事,包括唐人街的幫派。他們有各種各樣的名稱,而且那個時候已經有越南幫了,剛剛興起的。</p>
<p>
問:你是否覺得自己屬於這裏?你在唐人街感覺舒服嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:是的,我和我的同事工作很愉快。儘管我的同事有黑人或白人,但大多數是亞洲人,很多是從香港、臺灣和中國大陸來的華人。還有從新加坡、菲律賓、韓國來的亞裔員工。</p>
<p>問:你有沒有去過美國的其他城市,還是說你總是在這裏呆著?</p>
<p>Cambao:我去其他城市都是因爲參加那裏的討論會或會議。我去過西海岸;我去過北部和南部的很多州和城市。但是基於很多原因,我最喜歡的是紐約。在這裏,我能看到所有我想要看的,但其他很多城市都沒有。</p>
<p>問:在80年代,越南戰爭還是有很多爭議,你是否因此受到歧視?作爲越南人,人們是否對你有偏見或歧視?</p>
<p>Cambao:也許沒有,因爲我是越南人。關於你的問題---歧視---,我有這種感覺,比如別人以爲我是無家可歸的人。我幫自己和家人領一些冬天穿的舊大衣,公共汽車司機不讓我上車。因爲我的教育背景,我知道要讓老人、婦女和兒童先上車。我在最後。公共汽車司機在我腳踏在公共汽車門檻的時候就把門關上了。還好,車上很多其他的人對他大聲喊,“讓他進來”。因爲我扛了一個垃圾袋,黑色的,別人給我用來放衣服的,司機以爲我是個流浪漢。所以,他不讓我上車。我想他不知道我到底是中國人,還是韓國人,越南人,或日本人。我們看上去都很象。</p>
<p>
問:你爲什么要去那裏領免費的衣服呢?---是救世軍嗎?你經常去那種地方嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:我想是美國天主教慈善機構(USCC)組織的。我在USCC的同事告訴我的地址,我去那裏去取。我想不是救世軍。</p>
<p>問:剛來美國的時候,你的經濟狀況如何?你有沒有帶錢過來?還是說過來的時候沒有帶任何東西?</p>
<p>Cambao:我來的時候沒有帶任何東西。但我有得到USCC的幫助。那是政府的錢。他們幫助我向那個機構申請。開始的時候,我家裏每個人都收到了兩百美元的資助。所以,在我剛到這裏的時候,那兩百美元暫時幫助了我,後來我就開始工作,自己掙錢。</p>
<p>問:你剛來的時候住在哪里?</p>
<p>Cambao:我在---,我和住在曼哈頓Upper West Side的親戚住在一起。</p>
<p>問:政府沒有幫你找房子,找住的地方。</p>
<p>Cambao:沒有,根本沒有。</p>
<p>問:這有沒有使你産生什么自由的土地的印象?</p>
<p>Cambao:我想獨立。如果政府那個時候能幫助我,我會很感激的。我想那種政策已經變了。政府不能幫助我太多,所以我決定要靠自己。</p>
<p>
問:
這裏較小的社區。我還想提一下,唐人街在那期間有殺手的問題,亞裔社區基本上---。華人和越南人社區被邀請參加了很多會議,甚至在警察局總部。我知道第五區開展了一個叫西貢任務的活動。你知道,‘越南玫瑰’在越戰期間是指性病。‘越南玫瑰’指美國士兵因與越南女孩子性交引起的病。所以,我認爲‘西貢任務’是另外一個不公正對待唐人街越南人的事情。因此,我強烈提出要禁止使用這個稱呼。最後,警察總部同意了我的意見,向警區和警察局長下令禁止使用這個稱呼。那是一件事情。我還參加了其他一些活動。比如,我被聘爲教育局長的顧問。那個時候有一個15歲的美亞混血兒的故事。他的故事曾在13頻道上報道過。一個15歲的小男孩來到美國,被人收養,和養父母住在一起。他在一所高中上九年級。以前,他在越南受歧視,因爲他是美亞混血兒。他看起來象美國人,在越南學校受到虐待。他在越南唯讀了兩年書,然後來到這個國家,在學校裏上九年級。但他因爲聽不懂,後來就輟學了。他加入了殺手幫派。我是通過他的社工和13頻道的文章瞭解到這些的。因此,我在一次理事顧問委員會會議上發言。我說向新來的人、移民和難民提供教育需要考慮他們的教育背景而不是他們的年齡。我想那個理事當時也同意我的意見。現在,那些新來的人在市里入學之前都要經過測試。同時,城市教育系統繼續向新到這裏的孩子提供雙語教學。我也和一些朋友一起創辦了雙語學校。現在在東百老彙末端,和Grant街的交叉處,PS 134。這是一所非常成功的學校;已經辦了五年了。在今年的全市四年級閱讀測試上獲得全市第四名。這個財政年度早些時候,美國教育局秘書Paige博士曾到學校訪問。<br>

我相信,即使對於那些新來的人,只要我們花時間去做,我們一定能改變他們的。</p>
<p>問:很多教師剛到美國的時候,爲了賺錢維持生活而非常努力地工作。爲什么你要花這么多的時間在社區裏做這些志願工作,而沒有做些有報酬的工作來維持家裏的生活?</p>
<p>Cambao:我確實工作很努力。有時我不止做一份工。我晚上和周末都有做工。我們拿現金。有一次,我去新澤西幫我的朋友賣手錶。他們每天付我五十美元。我相信教育和社會公益服務是能夠改變我們社會的兩個因素。因此,一有機會,我會這樣做的,而且我相信我有能力做這些事情,於是我有參與,並且加入了很多機構。</p>
<p>問:你在工作中有沒有遇到什么困難?</p>
<p>Cambao:有的。比如,我不太注意自己的種族背景,但別人有時沒有這樣想。我是越南人,別人卻說:“啊,你是中國人”。我相信那些中國人會認爲我是越南人。當然,美國人不會把我當做美國人,對不對?如果別人很有禮貌地像對待亞裔美國人一樣對待我,我會非常感激的。但是,很多時候他們會說‘你是越南人’,或者‘你是中國人’。他們不說,‘你是亞裔美國人’。我希望我能改變這種狀況,希望年輕的一代能夠做更多的事情來改變人們在這個問題上的偏見。</p>
<p>問:要怎樣呢?</p>
<p>Cambao:我不知道。但我認爲如果你不去做,你永遠也不會實現。這就是我的觀點。我們要去做,然後看是否會有所改變。</p>
<p>
問:像紐約這樣一個多元化的城市,你認爲各個種族在這裏相處融洽嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:種族相處融洽---,這是我們提出的問題。這取決於我們如何定義‘融洽’。如果我們說有時我們有爭論是因爲種族差異,這對我來說是正常的。我不想太快下結論,在某些情況下人們動不動就說是歧視。像種族歧視或其他什么歧視,如果沒有證據,我不會妄下結論的。</p>
<p>問:我想再談一下後來的事情。</p>
<p>Cambao:好的。</p>
<p>問:談一下2001年9月11日。那個時候你在哪里?</p>
<p>Cambao:我在唐人街這裏。我目睹兩座姊妹塔倒塌,我非常傷心。當看到飛機撞到第二座塔的時候,根據我在越戰中的經歷,我知道這不是事故。我命令學校的員工和學生---大約有兩百人---離校回家。但我上面還有個老闆,行政主任---她在我之後進來。她用內部對講機跟我說:“那是個事故”。我告訴她,“我相信那不是事故。事故不會接連發生兩次。”她說,我們不能讓大家回去,因爲如果政府或者資助機構查起來,我們怎么辦。當時,我不能回答她的問題,因爲我認爲人的生命比那個更重要。於是,我讓員工和學生離開學校。一些員工在樓梯裏被她截住,只好回到教室,那天晚些時候才回家。我待到兩點後才走。然後,我在唐人街吃的午餐。因爲地鐵不通,我很晚才到家。我認爲那天是很悲傷的一天。你能看到,在那以後,整個國家,特別是城市的經濟形勢越來越糟。很多人失去了工作。作爲社會公益服務機構,我們面臨的困難更多。<br>

很多人來找到我們,儘管他們沒有資格得到我們的服務。但我不得不花一些時間來幫助他們。我在唐人街工作的地方同我現在的工作地點相比離我家更近,我經常很晚才回家,因爲我不得不花更多的時間爲我的客人服務。</p>
<p>問:9月11日有沒有影響你的工作?</p>
<p>Cambao:有。它使我的工作更加難做。因爲,正如我先前所講,有很多人來找我,儘管他們不夠資格享受我們的服務。</p>
<p>問:作爲一個機構,你是否有想辦法搞到更多的資金來幫助更多的人?</p>
<p>Cambao:有的。除了搞我自己的專案,監管機構及其一部分運作以外,我們都有花一些時間找更多的資金。我爲機構搞到了$300,000美元的資助。我從芝加哥收到一張支票。一個叫McCormick論壇基金會的機構給了我們$300,000美元,用來服務那些受到9/11影響的人。他們看到我們的專案是最好的專案之一。我們被選中獲得他們的資助。而且當時我的老闆和一個聯邦政府機構有聯繫,我們也從那裏得到了資助。</p>
<p>問:你是否認爲你的個人背景,以及你所親身經歷過的各種困難,使你有能力應付類似的情況?</p>
<p>Cambao:我的確是這么認爲的。因爲我經歷過越戰,爲了在越戰中免受傷害,我對一些聲音和一些事情非常敏感。我在新政權---南越新政府---的統治下生活了三年,被關在集中營,這些使我能夠應付各種各樣的困難。</p>
<p>問:在1975年之後,如果你的生活未曾改變,你還想離開越南嗎?</p>
<p>
Cambao:我當然不會的。甚至在75年變化之後,我仍然堅信那裏是個好地方,我能利用我的知識幫助別人。但是,新的政權並不接受我。他們不想讓我留在那裏。所以,我必須離開。</p>
<p>問:你認爲你別無選擇。</p>
<p>Cambao:我沒有其他的選擇。</p>
<p>問:你有沒有覺得在某種意義上你已失去了你的家?</p>
<p>Cambao:經濟上是如此。我失去了那裏很多的財産。我失去了那裏很多地方。我擁有那裏的土地和房屋。這就是我來到這個國家的原因。我沒有買黃金,很多其他的亞洲人和中國人買了很多黃金。他們能用黃金買一條船逃離越南。我沒有那么做。</p>
<p>問:我說的‘家’不是指房屋或財産,而是一種歸屬感,因爲你家裏兩代人都在越南。從某種意義上來講,就好像你失去了你的國家。</p>
<p>Cambao:沒錯。感謝你能理解這些。</p>
<p>問:那你在紐約有沒有重建你的家?</p>
<p>Cambao:在你所指的‘家’的含義上,是的。</p>
<p>問:你是否感覺屬於這裏,在這裏覺得舒適,你會不會在這裏渡過餘生,以及讓你的後代也在這裏生活嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:目前來講,我的回答是肯定的。我不知道將來會發生什么事情。</p>
<p>
問:跟我們講一下你現在的工作。</p>
<p>Cambao:好的。我現在在爲一個猶太裔美國人組織工作。它已在布魯克林區建立了的新的分支機搆,我去年受雇負責布魯克林區分支機搆的運作。這是一個就業服務機構。直到去年年底,我們幫助所有的人。由於缺乏資金,我們現在只能幫助享受公共救濟的人。</p>
<p>問:我知道你已不在唐人街工作,但你在這個社區呆了近二十年。據你觀察,這裏大的變化有哪些?</p>
<p>Cambao:實際上是十九年。我已經在這個國家呆了十九年。我看到了唐人街很多的變化。即使我不在唐人街工作,我還有到唐人街來。我志願擔任東越南-柬埔寨-老撾-華裔協會委員會主席。我經常去那裏監管書,以及向年長和貧困的人提供服務。與1984年3月我來唐人街那時比起來,這裏的確有變化。我看到人口的變化。很多從福建來的人來到唐人街。同時,我通過參與2000年的人口普查得知,有很多沒有身份的人住在紐約市。他們家在這裏,但去其他城市或不在市里工作。他們在唐人街必須有個落腳處。我知道---,你也許注意到幾天前的報紙上登過,在Bowery 81號四樓,整層樓大概有兩、三千英尺,有一百多個人住在那裏。第一,人口變了。當然,語言也變了。過去,唐人街是講臺山話和廣州話。但是現在,很多地方逐漸使用福州話和國語。我看到有更多的商店,唐人街已擴展到Canal街以北,很大一片地方。但Canal街以南的變化不大。在Canal街以西已擴展至百老彙。還有一個大的變化,也是我非常喜歡的一個積極的變化---跟過去相比,唐人街變得更乾淨了。我要感謝由Danny Lee,Eva Tan,Bill Lam和其他唐人街的生意人領導的唐人街清潔委員會。<br>

我看到很多唐人街的積極的事情。儘管現在還有幫會,但他們不像過去那樣活躍。因此,在最近五年裏,犯罪率連續不斷下降,不止五年。</p>
<p>問:你是否認爲,唐人街地區獲得的衛生、交通方面的資金要少於其他地區?很明顯,同曼哈頓其他區域相比,這裏十分擁擠,而且很髒。你認爲是什么原因?</p>
<p>Cambao:因爲我們沒有提高我們的呼聲讓人們聽到,尤其沒有讓那些任職官員聽到。他們以爲我們沒有這種需要。一些機構確實有申請過,但他們沒有足夠的能力使資金機構相信唐人街有這種需要。</p>
<p>問:你是否認爲唐人街社區和居民有向有關部門反映過情況以促使社區的變化,還是說他們更多地在關心自己?</p>
<p>Cambao:坦率地講,我覺得他們沒有像我所期待那樣地團結,使社區變得強大,使資金機構相信他們代表唐人街社區,爲華人社區爭取利益。一些機構只關心他們機構自己的運作,他們想獲得他們所提供服務方面的資金,而不是爲了唐人街這個整體。這是很容易理解的。因爲他們都在從事自己的行業,他們只是爭取他們業內的資金。我希望唐人街最終會有個帶頭人把大家團結起來,使我們像在越南的華人社區一樣強大。他們有很大的勢力。他們如果想要做什么事情,領導出面以後,沒有人會拒絕。但在這裏,好像每個人都是領導,又好像我們沒有領導。</p>
<p>問:是否有可能---,唐人街有這么多不同的團體,如你所講,現在有福州人,還有廣州人、臺山人,有很多很多不同的團體。這個領導將是誰呢?</p>
<p>
Cambao:當前,我看到福州社區有一些好的迹象。他們已經快做到了。他們開始向他們的社區提供服務,比如ESL。這是一件好事情。除了非營利組織以外,你是否有看到其他機構在做這些?其他團體就沒有這種事情發生---我是指講其他方言的團體。只是福州人。我在他們的社區裏看到這些,因爲一些人(一定級別的政府代表)比較關心,去那裏慰問他們。每當任職官員需要錢的時候,他們會去找他們。這是雙向互通的。如果他們支援一些人,當然反過來他們也會從他們那裏得到很多東西來支援他們的社區建設。</p>
<p>問:因爲距離近的原因,我們知道,9月11日以後唐人街蒙受了巨大的商業損失。你是否認爲兩年之後的現在唐人街已經恢復了嗎?商業恢復到9月11日之前正常的狀況,還是說仍處於重建階段?</p>
<p>Cambao:表面上看,我認爲餐企業已經恢復了。但是,我想衣廠,以及唐人街其他主要産業,目前尚未恢復。</p>
<p>問:你認爲他們會恢復嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:據我瞭解,儘管我不是做那一行的,鑒於貿易方面的問題,中央政府已和一些國家簽署了協定。我認爲服裝業不會再回到紐約市,尤其是唐人街。利用美國的勞動力要比從墨西哥或中國進口服裝的費用昂貴得多。因此,我認爲是不會恢復的。一些人應該考慮到需要改變唐人街的服務業,或者唐人街的商業模式,這樣才能使唐人街成爲一個更美好的地方。吸引旅客來這裏是方式之一。</p>
<p>
問:你是否認爲未來的唐人街能夠團結起來,所有不同的團體會有一個強有力的領導?或者他們能夠把自己的不同之處放在一旁,爲社區的利益而共同努力。你認爲這些會發生嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:我看不到一個帶頭人。但是,很多領導也能夠爲共同的事業朝同樣的目標努力,即使他們有不同的觀點。但爲了整個社區的福利,他們能夠集中做一件事情,然後我們能與很多領導一起工作,而不僅是一個領導。</p>
<p>問:你有競選什么職務的想法嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:沒有。</p>
<p>問:爲什么沒有呢?</p>
<p>Cambao:我的年齡和健康狀況不允許我做這些。</p>
<p>問:但如果沒有年齡和健康的因素,你會考慮嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:我想我更適合做社會公益服務。兩個星期前,我去PS 69和一些家長談話。現在有很多學校想邀請我和學生的家長談話。希望這樣會使新到的人更加瞭解美國,這樣他們能夠使自己---,調整自己,適應這個國家和社會。</p>
<p>問:當你回顧在美國的經歷,你是否認爲它是一個成功的故事?</p>
<p>Cambao:我不這么認爲。</p>
<p>問:爲什么?</p>
<p>
Cambao:很多人對‘成功的故事’下過定義---,你必須---(用中文普通話解釋,一共有四樣:房子、汽車、太太和孩子)。我只有兩樣。</p>
<p>問:好的。(對話重叠在一起)。</p>
<p>Cambao:四樣東西。你需要有房子,有汽車,有太太和孩子。我只有後兩樣。我沒有房子,也沒有汽車。我對成功的定義是不同的。我相信我能生活得舒適,我按照我希望別人對待我的方式來對待別人。從這個角度來看,我很高興我做到了。例如,我失去了我的工作。從中,我至少認爲我做事的方式,別人---,並不是每一個人都喜歡我。對於我本人,我的原則是我不會取悅每一個人。如果我認爲是正確的事情,我會去做的。在我失去工作之後,很多認識我的人給我打電話,告訴我找工的資訊。我發覺很多人在幫助我。</p>
<p>問:當你回顧在越南失去的那幾年,你的黃金時代,三十多歲的時候被關在勞教營,非常艱難的時期,你是否有仇恨呢?</p>
<p>Cambao:當然。但我不想提那件事情,因爲它總是會給我悲傷的記憶。</p>
<p>問:那你認爲你想要你的孩子知道的最重要的東西是什麽?</p>
<p>Cambao:我讓我的兒子和女兒做一個高尚的人,而同時要記住向別人做的許諾。當你答應別人某樣事情的時候,你要履行諾言。我教給我的孩子這兩樣事情。此時,我堅信---,我想我的兒子能夠做到這個。我的女兒目前我還不知道。我希望當她大學畢業後工作、面對現實生活的時候,我能夠看到她做的怎樣。</p>
<p>問:有沒有什么我尚未問到你需要補充的嗎?</p>
<p>Cambao:我有很多事情要講,但我認爲在這裏說不太適當。</p>
<p>訪問結束</p>

Citation

“Cambao de Duong,” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed April 3, 2020, https://911digitalarchive.org/items/show/88946.