Who Can be a Hero? Thao Pham and her immigration story.

August Pfeilsticker, Reporter

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It was a cold, wet morning in Saigon, Vietnam. Getting up to sneak onto a boat that would bring the Quach family to a free life, a new opportunity. The year was 1980 when the Quach family immigrated to the United States of America. This is the story of an unexpected hero named Thao Pham. Her heroic tale began midway during their trip to America. 

Thao’s fishing boat was caught by Taiwan Pirates and brought to a Malaysian refugee camp. The Quach family longed for the day when they would be sponsored by an American family. Hoa Quach went everyday to the boards of the refugee camp to check if they were scheduled to go to America. Eventually Hoa Quach lost hope in this and stopped checking. The Quach family’s first born Thao Pham checked once Hoa Quach had lost hope, and the day she checked, they were sponsored by a family living in Chico California, the Jennsens family.

The Quach family went through lots of hard times during this trip. They made this all possible through their dream. They had a dream to have a life in America, away from communism and poverty. They had a dream to have a better life, a better chance, a better opportunity in America. When the Quach family arrived in Chico California, they stayed in the family’s house for a while, until they could get a job and get their own house. Later on, the Quach family created their own company called Johnsons, foods and goods inside of a warehouse. Thao Pham and her husband, Billy Pham, work their currently. All of the hardwork and commitment that this family had done to get there is unimaginable.

“We were very tightly squeezed sitting in a boat, and pirates rammed our boat and tried to sink us,” said Thao Pham. Freedom was the one thing they wanted. Due to the Vietnam War, and communism happening in the country at the time, the Quach family felt like they were in danger and scared about whether or not they would be able to live their life independently. “We were in a refugee camp for a year,” Thao Pham said.

The Quach family had to go through a lot of tough times during this voyage to America. Sneaking on to the fishing boat in the morning. Having to stay inside of a squished, cramped fishing boat for so long. People getting sea sick, coughing and spreading diseases the whole boat ride. Only to get stopped and harassed by Taiwan pirates. Having to go into a refugee camp for a year. But they knew it will be worth it for their new life in America.  The legacy that the family has created will effect the next generation of their family. Especially, looking back at how lucky they were to come here, all because of a decision, of commitment, made of Thao Pham.

7 Comments

7 Responses to “Who Can be a Hero? Thao Pham and her immigration story.”

  1. Jeremy Van Ham on February 12th, 2018 8:16 am

    Good story, i like how you said “The story began…”

    [Reply]

  2. Nathaniel Ward on February 12th, 2018 8:16 am

    Good job August! It is a very interesting story that is actually true.

    [Reply]

  3. Antonio Padilla on February 12th, 2018 8:18 am

    Very interesting story

    [Reply]

  4. Christina Swaiss on February 12th, 2018 8:22 am

    Good article. There was good detail.

    [Reply]

  5. Luke Pires on February 12th, 2018 8:22 am

    Amazing, The amount of detail you used made it feel like I was on the boat with them!

    [Reply]

  6. Izabelle Larson on February 12th, 2018 8:25 am

    Great story! I liked how interesting it was.

    [Reply]

  7. Hayden Hogen-Esch on February 12th, 2018 8:27 am

    good job. I liked how much detail was there.

    [Reply]

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Who Can be a Hero? Thao Pham and her immigration story.