When Emily Letran was thirteen years-old she escaped Vietnam in a boat during the middle of the night with her aunt, brothers, and a few cousins. During the 7-day journey on the ocean, the party was shot at, robbed, and beaten, but left to live. And lived they did. In fact, Emily’s story is one of hope, abundance, and freedom.
Saigon-born in the late 1960’s, Emily had seen horrific images of war as a child. Whole villages of people were killed, and the sky was often orange from smoke. When the communists came into power in 1975 life immediately changed for her family.
There was never enough food, which the government “provided”. The Vietnamese citizens were forced to stand in line for rations of food and supplies – given according to the number of family members in each home.
Emily’s mother passed-away one year later, and by 1981 rumors of another war in Vietnam began to swell. Her brothers and cousins were old enough to be drafted into the communist military. Thus, the escape from her home country was put into action.
Emily’s father and a few siblings would stay in Vietnam and join the family soon. As Emily looked back at her father that night the boat was pushed silently into the ocean, she felt hope and determination to make his sacrifice worthwhile. The expectation to survive, thrive, and be successful weighed heavily on Emily, even more than fear of the unknown.
Sadly, Emily never saw her father again.
This small group of survivors lived in a Malaysian refugee camp for 3 months before taking her first airplane ride and arriving in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America.
Her first impression of America?
“Everything was BIG, and you feel a little lost. Our first meal was Popeye Chicken, and I thought where is the rice? You can’t eat food without rice”.Emily Letran
Culture shock and language barriers were the biggest challenges. Emily had learned conversational English in Vietnam, but that did not suffice in school when learning science and other subjects.
“Imagine not being able to understand ANYTHING people were saying for 5 hours in school every day”.Emily Letran
Emily would study at night translating her English textbooks into Vietnamese. She delivered newspapers, biked to school, and through government programs received free school lunch. She had drive to serve the family, live up to her own expectations, and determination to understand the language.
Emily longed for her father to join them in America so the family could be complete. He was still in communist Vietnam where BIG BROTHER is always watching; where government can search your home any time they want to and take anything they want.
By the time she was in high school, the family lived in California. Emily went to undergrad classes at the university while still in high school, and she took summer classes too. She was working hard to make the most of her blessed situation.
Emily’s father passed-away and soon after she became a U.S. Citizen. She legally changed her first name to Emily, kept her Vietnamese name as her middle name, and combined two different Vietnamese last names (Le and Tran) to form her last name. The American Dream was no longer a hope. It was reality.
“We have a sense of gratitude knowing we live in the best place in the world – the U.S. We take pride in being here as an immigrant, knowing there is no other country in the world which offers real freedom and the ability to achieve”.Emily Letran
Emily is now Emily Letran, DDS and owns two specialty dental practices in southern California. In her profession, not many people share their stories. This compelled Emily to write her story in a book. It is meant to inspire immigrants and others.
“You can share your story in a book and increase the number of people who hear your voice”.Dr. Emily Letran
To other refugees Dr. Emily says:
“Look for help. Go to churches, neighbors, friends, and ask for help. Ask them to point you to the resources.”Emily Letran, DDS
To natural American citizens Dr. Emily advises:
“Stay open-minded. Do not stereotype, or assume you know someone’s story because of how they look. Do not assume they cannot do something or do not understand you. Be available to help when/where you can”.Emily Letran, DDS
On this Election Day 2020, Emily had more inspiring advice:
“You should be grateful we have two opposing parties in America that fight each other. The option is one single party that dictates everything to you, and controls everything you have”.Emily Letran, DDS
Emily has been there and done that. As we parted, Emily offered a gift to YOU:
Text FREEDOM to 6262987587 and get a free Blueprint for Focus and Productivity
The American Dream is alive and well!