I, Khai Doan, was born in October 1974 into a South Vietnamese family. My mom and dad were from the north but they ran south for political reasons. In 1975, when the North Vietnamese government took over the South, they put my dad into prison for four years. When I saw my dad for the first time (when he was released from prison in 1979), he was a walking stick. After that, the Vietnamese government continued to oppress us. They tried to take our house. They would not let us go to school unless we bribe them. We planned to escape Vietnam by boat but that failed. They put my dad in jail again for a few months until an acquaintance got him released. Life in Vietnam was very dim. I had no hope for a better life when I was living in Vietnam.
In 1990, my family was allowed to migrate to America, because some people pushed the American government to pay the Vietnamese government a certain amount for each political family to leave Vietnam. In America, I received assistance and grants to go to school. I now no longer depend on these social benefit programs. At some point in time, I realized that I owe my life to society and I want to give back to society as much as I can, and this is my way of giving back to make a world a better place.
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