From left, Librarian Phuoc Thi-Minh Tran; author Nguyen Thanh Hiep; artist/author Ha Kieu Anh; artist Anh Ha; author/poet Cung Tram Tuong; and Trong Nguyen.
RICHFIELD, Minn. — The story of Vietnamese refugee Trong Nguyen’s journey, as told in collaboration with author Connie Fortin in the biography “Born Into War,” spoke at the Augsburg Park Library in Richfield on April 21.
A program written by Connie Fortin and librarian Phuoc Thi-Minh Tran, took place on a rainy spring Saturday afternoon and the Richfield library was buzzing with chatter. In the library’s meeting room, Trong Nguyen, once a South Vietnam citizen, now an American citizen, came to talk about his journey to Minnesota, and back again to find the grave of his father who was a teacher and mayor of his Central Vietnamese.
“Born Into War” is the true story of a boy growing up during the Vietnam War and his relocation, at age 19, to Minnesota. Trong’s father was killed by Communists when he was 3 years old and his mother passed away in 1974.
Many people in the audience had lived in Vietnam and a few had never been to there including Fortin. At the library event, Trong exchanged stories about life in Vietnam and Fortin provided the story of a chance encounter at Trong’s restaurant where they started the process of getting the his story onto paper and published.
Trong spent his childhood in the same town as one of the attendees, and their discussion made the event more vivid. Talented writers, artists and even a prisoner of war from Vietnam in the audience were very impressed that Trong persisted and was successful in getting his story written and published in English.
Trong wanted only to have Fortin write his story so that he could explain the plight his parents and family to his children, nephews and nieces who never knew them. The English language book became a popular account of a refugee’s story and now helps many Minnesotans understand the lives of their immigrant and refugee neighbors.