Dang Truong – The Stories and Opinions of an Immigrant

An immigrant from Vietnam’s perspective on LJMS and the United States.



Source: Wikimedia Commons – A pagoda/temple located in Sóc Trăng, Vietnam. Dang’s family lived in Sóc Trăng when they were still living in Vietnam.

By: Josephine Huynh, Journalist

Dang is a student at Luther Jackson Middle School who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam less than a year ago. He began attending school at Luther Jackson in September, and I have gotten to know him through our P.E. class by translating for him. We have had many conversations during lunch too, and I learned about some of his experiences with Luther Jackson through these conversations. Dang’s favorite classes this year have been Art Foundations and P.E., and he also enjoys his math class. I was able to ask Dang a few questions about how he felt about certain things both at Luther Jackson and in the United States from his perspective, and his answers are shown below.

Question: What are some things that you had to adjust to after moving to the United States?

Answer: “I had to get used to the English environment and I had to learn everything in English.”

Question: What are some things in the United States, both in school and in general, that you like? 

Answer: “The people here are much kinder and more respectful compared to the people in Vietnam, especially in school. (It is a habit of many to tease others for fun in Vietnam, and that isn’t as common or accepted here in the U.S.) The air quality is also better, as it feels much cleaner to breathe in the air here compared to the air in Vietnam. The main reason for the bad air quality in Vietnam is because of all the vehicles. Millions of motorcycles and cars are on the road nonstop in Vietnam, which contributes to a lot of air pollution. Education is also better since there is much less homework and more free time after school. The teachers are much fairer and less harsh on the students here in the United States. In Vietnam, teachers would often embarrass, yell, or hit students who misbehaved or didn’t do their work. In the United States, there are much less harsh and more fair consequences for students who misbehave.” 

Question: What could be better at Luther Jackson Middle School to be more inclusive of immigrant and refugee students, as well as to improve their lives?

Answer: “Less stress and confusion within the curriculum from assignments. Although the teachers are fairer, assignments sometimes are not explained thoroughly, or there isn’t enough assistance provided. This often leads to confusion and stress as to how to get the assignment done. Things could also be more accessible to students who speak languages other than just English and sometimes Spanish since that is part of the reason why things are often stressful or confusing in school on assignments. One way to make classes and other things more accessible to those who don’t speak English is to have an after-school type of program that can teach students English. It could allow for immigrant or refugee students to learn English quicker than they would by learning just during normal school hours. Another way is to have a teacher that speaks the language of those who are new to the country. Being able to speak the same language as the people around you is very powerful since it allows you to better engage with those people. Just having more opportunities to learn the English language or having an adult that speaks the same language can help to include many immigrant or refugee students.”

These are some of the academic changes that Dang believes would help many immigrant and refugee students to feel more included academically.

“More rules should be implemented or enforced for students who often misbehave too. I have often seen some students who don’t do what they are supposed to, or who hit each other while playing. It would be helpful if there were rules that prevent or punish them for doing these things, as it makes school less fun and safe. It also makes me feel like I shouldn’t participate in the class activity while they are doing those things because I fear that I’ll get in trouble or will get hurt. This behavior happens the most in P.E.”

These are some of the rules Dang believes could be changed to help include immigrant and refugee students, as well as to make them feel less intimidated by other students.

“Sometimes, the ways that some students are used to behaving can come off as intimidating or different to students who came from countries with different customs. This can often influence how immigrant and refugee students begin to behave so that they can appeal to their peers. They may not know right or wrong because of how different it is compared to what they are used to, and because they are also more focused on fitting in with the people around them so that they can feel included. If there were more rules or enforcement of rules that prevent students from misbehaving, it could better help immigrant and refugee students distinguish between right and wrong. When this confusion doesn’t happen, many students will be able to feel included by their peers while also contributing to the school positively rather than negatively.”

a group of gold and white buildings sitting on top of a lush green field
Source: Unsplash – Some of the structures in Sóc Trăng, Vietnam

Dang also believes that there could be some social changes at Luther Jackson Middle School to help include immigrant and refugee students.

“More people need to understand that immigrants and refugees often feel afraid to speak English because it is their second language. If the school organized a club for students to practice their English and make new friends, it would be very beneficial for students who are learning English to be able to improve. It can also allow for them to be included in a group of people who all have one thing in common, the fact that they are all learning English and are new to the country.”

Another thing that could be improved, said Dang, “The bathroom stalls could go higher so that people who are taller than the stall can’t look inside.”

But he says that it’s just a minor issue and it doesn’t affect him all of the time.