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Thuy Farrell

Thuy Farrell

A Mother’s Strength

As Told By: Thuy Farrell

Thuy Farrell recounts her childhood in Vietnam, born into a family that migrated from the North due to the harsh rule of the communists. Her parents' marriage was arranged when her mother was just 13, and her father, though abusive, was kept due to societal pressure. Thuy's upbringing was marked by poverty and hardship, with memories of scarcity and fear dominating her early years. Her father's cowardice during the war, including deliberately injuring himself to avoid fighting, left a lasting impression on Thuy.

Despite the challenges, Thuy's family found solace in their Catholic faith and community ties. Her mother, a resilient and resourceful woman, played a pivotal role in their survival, earning the trust of her wealthy aunt and securing their passage out of Vietnam. Thuy's departure from Vietnam was fraught with danger, as they faced gunfire while escaping by boat.

Reflecting on her childhood, Thuy recalls feelings of darkness, hunger, and fear, tempered by moments of resilience and familial love. Her journey to America was a bittersweet departure from the only home she had known, yet it offered hope for a better future.


  • My Name is Thuy Farrell
  • I am based in Oklahoma City, OK
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  • Departure Location: Vũng Tàu, Ba Ria - Vung Tau, Vietnam
  • Departure Year: 1975
  • Camp 1: Guam (United States)
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  • Camp 3: Fort Chaffee, Arkansas (United States)
  • Resettlement Location: Dixon, Illinois, USA
  • Resettlement Year: 1976
  • My Story

    00:00 / 01:04

    Thuy Farrell [00:00:00] My full name is Nguyễn Thị Mai Thúy and, I was born in Tân Mai, Biên Hòa. It's, 20 miles north of Saigon. And I was born August 25th, 1967. And that date is actual because I still have the baptismal records. So all of the records in Vietnam that we have came from the church that we attended. So my mother and father were northerners, and they were part of the almost million people who voted with their feet, as they say, in 1954. When there was demarcation of Vietnam under the Geneva Accord. To split the country in the 54th parallel and. 

    Interviewer [00:01:09] And can I ask when you say voted with their feet is because they migrated? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:01:13] Yes. Voted with their feet was an expression that were given to northerners who. They saw what the French did. They lived under the French. My mother had memories of the French occupation of her town, and that town was in North Vietnam, and it was called. I forgot the town, but it was a small church there, and every time the French came, the girls would hide in the church. And my mother said that she wanted to make herself really ugly so that she wasn't chosen to be raped or be picked up. Her village was called Ngọc Châu and that was north. So they lived under French occupation for a long, long time. But when the communists came under the land reform that was also introduced by China. The Chinese revolution affected Vietnam, too. So they also had land, what they call was, land reformation. So after the Vietcong, which my father fought in to fight the French, the communists occupied and were victorious in Ngọc Châu. But the reason that they voted with their feet were because the communists were worse than the French. And my mother said that she saw her teacher buried alive. So when there was an opportunity for her to leave. She left with almost the entire village. Except that her brother was part of the Communist Party. So my mother is the middle child of an oldest brother, and my uncle, and then a younger sister. My uncle was part of that movement because he believed in the Communist Party's ideology. So he and his mother, which is my grandmother, stayed in the North and kept that land while my mother and her younger sister, along with almost a million people, migrated by foot south. And unfortunately for my mother she was betrothed before she left Ngọc Châu to my dad. So she was only 13. 

    Interviewer [00:04:12] Like arranged marriage? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:04:13] Yes. And it was just something that was promised by the parents. So she felt like she had to carry him. And then his mother also migrated. So they were already a family. But at that time, my mother was only about 15 or 16. So she just really was responsible for her husband already and her mother in law. And they walked some, took some by boat. It was just a very miserable experience from what my mother told me. She rarely talked about it. Except one time I got her in a hospital. She was. Her appendix had ruptured, and I kind of conned her. And I brought a tape recorder, and she couldn't leave. She had no place to go. So I recorded her life and I said, you have to tell me about my past because I was really needing to know what happened. So she said, well, she was betrothed to my dad, and he was very abusive. At that time, men were always kind of like king of the household. So my dad, even though he knew he was betrothed to her, she went to live with him and his mother, and he would beat her up a lot. So she would come home to her mother, and her mother saw her, and her mother would beat her and say, you leave this house because you don't you cannot come back once you're married. So don't bring shame to the family. And it was so sad because that's the last time she ever saw her mother again. Because once she went south, she never came back to north. She had such a terrible memory of kind of the hardship. My mother was born a peasant. So they lived by what they grew. So they had rice paddies, and she grew that. And it was very hard work for her. She said that she lived through the famines. You know, when America had gone through the Great Depression, which was 1929, it hurt the entire world. So there was a terrible famine in Vietnam. And my mother, luckily she knew how to work the land. So she always had rice but she would get robbed a lot and she would go to the market to sell her rice. And on the way home, people would just be lying on the streets dead. And so I really needed to hear that my mother was such a great woman because she. Her name was Nguyễn Thị Thuốc, which she was rightly named as medicine woman. And so she she carried her mother in law, which she just calls mom, ma'am. And she was so loyal to her all the way from there to South Vietnam. And there was a they all lived by rumors. There was a rumor that they saw the image of Mary, because we are Catholic, going south. So she followed a whole trail of people, and they went to this Tân Mai, Biên Hòa, which (then president) Diệm designated, as a place for to accept these northerners. 

    Interviewer [00:08:08] Like northern refugees. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:09:19] Northern refugees, because he knew a lot of them were Catholics. And of course, they would vote for him. And that's what happened was this Catholic community allowed my mother to have some land and you could homestead. So the villagers helped her to create, a mud hut. And, by 1956, in two years later, my sister was born, and she started, making progress with the land. My mother knew how to work the land. She not only grew rice by herself, but she grew rau muống (water spinach) and she had chickens and a regular farm. And there was a community. And so that's where I was born. My father, on the other hand, was quite a wild person. He was a gambler, a womanizer, and all the moneys that he made.He never gave to my mother. And he gambled it away. And every time he lost, people would come knocking on my mother to get money. So that that part of my life has always been sad to me. And it's a bad memory of Vietnam and. And the Vietnamese men and I. I don't want to think that. I know that not all of them are like that, but it was that society that created. 

    Interviewer [00:09:42] Accepted it. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:10:58] Accepted it. And also promoted it to some extent, because we know that women are the ones who raise men. But fortunately, my mother in law, I mean, my grandmother, his mother was really sweet. So my mother had a beautiful relationship with her, her mother in law. My mother fortunately had a a sister. They all traveled together. They all grew up in that area. And my sister, my aunt was was married to a brilliant man. He also came from Ngọc Châu. They all came together, settled together. Except my uncle was very brilliant. He knew how to open a barber shop. He knew how to make money. He saw that. With the arrival of American troops, that he had an opportunity to open up shops and then also be a distributor of good things. So he was became very, very high up. So he moved from Tân Mai to Vũng Tàu. And there everybody knew him because he was also made chief of police. So he had a lot of power. And, he was also so rich that he. And he had ten children. So my mother was the poor one. And so my aunt would hire my mother to be th nannies for her children because she only trusted my mother. They were so well off that, you know, when you're well off, you're always afraid, in back then too, that someone would rob you or steal from you. But, you know, my mother was very, very traditional in her Catholic upbringing. She was very black and white about what she believed. So, we grew up always seeing our cousins as very rich and loved to come over there because we could drink Coca Cola. In Vũng Tàu which was a big, big deal. And and so that was. You know, honestly when the war broke out, my dad he was very, very much afraid to die. So it was the thing with them was to cut your index finger so that you wouldn't have that. 

    Interviewer [00:12:22] So you have a deformity. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:12:24] The deformity. Plus, you couldn't shoot. 

    Interviewer [00:12:26] Right. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:12:27] And I swear my dad did that, which is, like, so sad for me to think about. I feel like, you know, there was so much about my dad that. I just questioned if he was always right in his mind, you know. I never got to know any of my grandparents. And that's also the sad thing about, the disconnection. Yeah. 

    Interviewer [00:12:56] What made you sad about him cutting his finger? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:12:59] Well, I said this to my family, and they don't like hearing that, but I said it's. He's cowardly. He was. You know. I just felt like if that's your country, then you should fight. And why would you do that? You know, to me, it just shows that he didn't have the character. And I, when I've been reading a lot of history, I sense that. I think that Vietnam was such a new country. We were just kind of being being born into a south, a southern country. And we, we I think, the West hoped it to be like, a North, a South Korea. But the northerners I felt were more heroic in their fighting. They could stand to lose 100 men and it wouldn't be as devastating. But for the South, I. The more books that I have been reading, the more it points to really a lack of wanting to fight and die. And not to say that there weren't very heroic men. But when I talked to even American vets, you know, there was a lot of corruption with moneys being poured into the country. So like, let's say, the Americans would send guns to support southern soldiers. Well, they would turn around and take the guns and sell it to the enemies for more money. And that is how we have lost the war. Not just that, there were many things, but that part of my dad always troubled me. Because then I would be thinking what I would want. Like if my sons did that, I would just really be horrified. So my dad did that, and then he would try to hide from fighting and and so he really didn't do a lot of fighting. He was at home, and he also had a child out of wedlock. And we were still trying to find that that child, because my mother. My mother was the type of person that it didn't she didn't care how a child was born. 

    Interviewer [00:15:29] It was a child. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:15:30] It was a child to her. So she she always wanted to find that child and take care of him. And so. Luckily for my family, connection was my aunt, my very, very rich aunt who had a need from my mother's service. And my sister. My sister is also just almost like my mom because she carried on that, that work ethic. Because where we were in Tân Mai was also very harsh at the first, decades before it got better. My sister would talk about when she stepped into the swamp of the, of the rice paddies that the leeches would, you know, suck in her ankles and and she'd come at home, and then they put on like a fire. And the way to get the head out was to burn the the head of the thing. 

    Interviewer [00:16:33] Off of your leg? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:16:33] Off your legs. 

    Interviewer [00:16:34] Wow. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:16:34] And it was, you know, kind of wild. And I just love that story. And she also said that was how my ears were pierced. Was that my mother would burn something like real hot. And that's how my ears were pierced. 

    Interviewer [00:16:50] Oh yes. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:16:51] I just love stories like that. I don't know why, but. I do remember like fireflies, because it was total darkness when we. That's how native we were. And arcane and how, you know, like we were not influenced by any kind of development, which I just find fascinating that I came from like a one room mud hut and, and I had no shoes and I had no. I never knew what underwear looked like. I had one outfit, and the only person in my family that got shoes was my little brother, because there was. Like back in the the late 60s, a store opened up and it was his birthday or something. He was born in '72, and he was the only one that got shoes. And there's a picture of of that whole thing that my sister gave you in which all of us were barefoot. And my sister, who's 19, was barefoot. But the little boy who's two. He got the shoes, you know. So that's that's what I'm saying. How how does society really favors boys over girls, I guess. But, so my mother always, was a trustworthy person is how we got to America was all through her. 

    Interviewer [00:18:30] So tell me, like you, you were born in the 60s, in the early 70s, at the height of the war. I mean, you must not really have vivid memories of what was going on around you. Or do you? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:18:45] I don't have vivid memories, but I've done a lot of studying. So some of it is, created memories that I have. I don't think that I have ever remember even a mirror, as I did not know what I looked like until I came to America. So the mirror, the mirrors and and things were. That's why I don't have a vivid memory. I can only, like, see it just through my eyes without ever seeing who I was as a child. And a lot of times because I was left alone at home with my sister, my older sister, not my oldest. I really don't have any recollection of, of a lot of the way things look, but I do have memories of the way I felt. 

    Interviewer [00:19:45] So tell me about how you felt. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:19:47] Well, you know, I have mixed feelings now, looking back. I've always felt very scared of Vietnam because. I remember the bathroom situation was really scary because it was always dark. So I have this feeling of darkness because we have one bathroom for the entire neighborhood. And so you would walk out into the night with. That's where I would see the fireflies and the darkness would always scare me of things we had to do. And so I'm very aware of sounds of things, how things sound. But that was how it was for a long time. Was the fear of having to go to the bathroom. Because it was just a one room darkness when you had to walk out. 

    Interviewer [00:20:45] It's amazing what sticks in memory for a child. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:20:48] Yeah. And now I have, I mean, if if it's a bad bath, I have a bathroom phobia. But really, I also remember a lot of, feeling of hunger. 

    Interviewer [00:21:00] Yeah, because you probably were hungry. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:21:02] Yeah. We ate. We ate one meal, and I remember, like, one egg was divided so many ways, and it was, it was never like a family like we have now. You just eat what you can. And I remember that my mother would make the rice into a ball, and that would be what I ate. I don't ever remember sitting down as a family. 

    Interviewer [00:21:33] And having a meal. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:21:33] That never did come until we came to America. 

    Interviewer [00:21:37] So tell me, when did you leave Vietnam and how? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:21:40] Well. It's all my. It's all my aunt. I'm telling you, I probably owe her my whole. We all owe her our wonderful life. My aunt, call my mother and said, we're going to lose this country. And my mother said, I don't want to leave because things were just getting good for my mom. She had was able to make money and buy land and rent that out. Lease that out. And she was on the up. She said to me, I finally got cement poured for my kitchen. And I. 

    Interviewer [00:22:24] No dirt floors? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:22:25] No dirt floors. And she finally got electricity to have a television. We actually were on the up and up for what we were. And so my aunt said, no, sister, I really need you because she had ten kids and the youngest one was nine months, so she. It was like 19 to 9 months was her because my sister and her cousin were the same age. So my, she's like I need you. And you come with us. And my dad has an older sister with a family, and she said, you can take that family. But my dad was so cruel. Yeah, he wouldn't let any of his sister. 

    Interviewer [00:23:14] So he didn't take his family? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:23:16] He didn't take his sister. And she had a, she had four kids and one of them was a boy. And they just begged and begged him, and and he didn't let them go. 

    Interviewer [00:23:29] Did he at least take his mom? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:23:33] But at that time, my grandmother had already passed. 

    Interviewer [00:23:36] Oh, okay. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:23:37] My mother would have never allowed him to leave her at home. She died. When she died, she thank my mother so much. My mother would say that she had such good memories of my grandmother. More so even than her mother. She was very upset with her mother, you know, just kind of the cruelty, but but filled with love, too, you know? So. So my my mother finally said yes. So she drove us to Vũng Tàu in their huge mansion, and, my uncle had a lot of gold, and there were, like, leaves and leaves, and he only trusted my mother, and he wrapped, like, loaded her with gold and wrapped it on her body and said, I trust you with this. So she had ten children. My mom and my sister and my dad were responsible to take care of three of her kids. And then we were all on our own. So my sister, my two brothers, and I. We were on our own. So we got. We were leaving Vũng Tàu and for some reason we were being shot at. And so my memory is just like very, very afraid of water. 

    Interviewer [00:25:08] What year was this. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:25:10] '75. 

    Interviewer [00:25:11] '75? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:25:11] April 29th. 

    Interviewer [00:25:12] Wow. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:25:12] Or, it may be 27th. I know that the actual fall was, you know, April 30th was when they played the Bing Crosby's White Christmas. I only learned that later, but at that time, we kind of left earlier because my uncle had all the knowledge, of what was going to happen. My cousin did tell me, and I don't know if it's true, but he was able to transfer a lot of his wealth, into, like, a Swiss account, which, you know, hey, I'm happy for him because they saved our lives. So it was three families. It was his family. My uncle has a brother and all of their nine kids. Then my. His wife had a sister and all our five kids, and then the ten children. And we got out to sea. And my other uncle, which is my uncle's brother's daughter got into a fight with, you know, her cousin about water. Like she was saying, you know, you don't need to waste water. We got to conserve water. 

    Interviewer [00:26:35] How many people total? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:26:35]  I want to say it's like 40 to 50. 

    Interviewer [00:26:40] Okay. And, was it a small boat? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:26:43] No. 

    Interviewer [00:26:43] Big one. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:26:43] I mean, it was bigger than normal because he was like. I think in today's world, he would be worth a quarter of a billion. He could afford. He told me one time it was the size of my old house, which was in 1100 square foot. 

    Interviewer [00:26:58] So were the other passengers on the boat family and friends. Your aunt and uncle knew. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:27:04] Yes. Except the pilot, you know, because none of us knew how to do that. But my. 

    Interviewer [00:27:11] Can  I ask you to put the tissue on the. Because I can hear it. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:27:14] Oh, I'm sorry.  

    Interviewer [00:27:15] That's okay. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:27:16] And so my one cousin, like, she just got up because of her feelings hurt just. 

    Interviewer [00:27:24] And got off the boat? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:27:25] Off the boat. To her mother's horror. I mean, and my aunt. Not my direct aunt, but my uncle's brother's family, they were just devastated. I mean cause that's their oldest daughter. 

    Interviewer [00:27:44] And so, she was left behind? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:27:44] Well, she wanted to. There were three girls, like young ladies that were in their teenage years. And I guess it was kind of a fight, but it was all these strange pride that I, I never understood. Asian pride is real deep. You know, it's it's very hurtful and deep. So that's how we got. And then we were there three days and then we were all picked up. But it was a very awful sight of people jumping from one boat to another, drowning and dying. It would have. It could have been done orderly. But we were so afraid that the naval ship would leave us. 

    Interviewer [00:28:31] So you were trying to fight to get on to the naval ship. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:28:34] We had to get to under the net. 

    Interviewer [00:28:37] Yes, to be lifted. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:29:49] The net was was pulled down. It was thrown down. And we were just like human fish. You had to jump in and it was craned up and then moved over and then. But like my aunt, my aunt was so brave she climbed the ladder. I mean, the ladder is just like, it just hangs. And she carried that. She climbed the ladder with her baby on her back that she tied. And so my mother, she was on the net, and and we rode that miserable navy ship for days because it was all open sea. So it was rained on. And I remember my aunt had a raincoat and and there was soup, and she took her hood off, and the soup was in her, her hood. And we scooped our hands with, eating out of her raincoat hood. I remember that, that blue rain, raincoat hood. I wish I had it now, you know. But, you know, when we we just wanted to throw everything away that reminded us of Vietnam. 

    Interviewer [00:30:00] Do you know if you brought, like, anything significant? Like, what did you pack? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:30:06] We didn't pack anything. Except my mother had her cross. She had all of our, like, certificates of baptismal. She had pictures of of her and and my dad, in a red bag. But everything of hers was religious. But we didn't. We didn't pack anything because we didn't really have anything. I never knew what I looked like until the sponsors in Dixon. We walked into a bathroom and I never knew what I looked like. It was amazing. At eight. 

    Interviewer [00:30:46] So, how did you react when you saw what you looked like?

    Thuy Farrell [00:30:48]  I was. I didn't know how to react. It was weird. I didn't know how anything worked. We were very, very rural, I mean, country. We didn't know. My sister on her wedding day that was the first time she was ever fitted for a bra. And she was like 20 something, because that was how my mother. My mother till the day she died never cut her hair. But I had to cut her hair when she went into the nursing home. And that was sad for me to do. And but people said it was the right thing because it was not serving anything but that that was how traditional she was. And I asked her, mom, do you ever want to go back to Vietnam? And she said, never. She could have gone back to see her brother and her mom, but she chose to go to Italy and Israel. On her long excursion. 

    Interviewer [00:31:56] So when you were in that naval ship, what happened next? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:31:59] We just. My dad was really out of control. He was panicking. And he was. He regretted leaving because it was. The ship was so horrible, you know, it was like it was a navy ship and. The conditions were bad because we just slept out in the rain and cold. And so he kept beating my mother. He, like, pulled her hair across the room and pounded her head on the ground. 

    Interviewer [00:32:35] Did anybody do anything? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:32:36] Well they did. They pulled him off and took him down and separated them. But my mother would never, would never leave him. So we were stuck with him till the day he died. And what I remember on the ship was it was a very. It was like a mourning, mourning ship, everybody. It was like a dirge. A funeral. There were people who've lost their people like fathers, children, and they were just screaming when they got on there. Because when they found out that. Their dad or mom or child died. It was like a big funeral because there were bodies, that just floated like. Or they, you know, Vietnamese people don't know how to swim. You know, how could we. And then once you fall through, there's no helping them. I mean, I saw. I would have dreams sometimes of, like, hands coming out of the water. And so it was pretty awful that ride and Guam was a thousand times better, but then we'd get seasick. And then the bathroom situation was horrible again because you could see, like, the water's going through. But, you know, looking back, we know that the Americans were really kind to get us even out. But it was a very, it was like people regretted leaving because they thought that that was the end, and that they could never see their families again. So that right there was everybody was. 

    [00:34:24] It wasn't hopeful, it was.

    [00:34:26] Everybody snuggled. And it was around, then it became May and was a lot of rain, and that made it just unbearable. 

    Interviewer [00:34:35] So how did you end up in Oklahoma? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:34:38] Well, my mother and her sister in Guam. My aunt had had enough of my dad because she's the one that brought my family over. And he kept complaining and taking his anger out on my mother. So my aunt told her kids to come beat up my dad. And they did. And my mother was very upset. And also my aunt had an oldest daughter who, at that time she was very spoiled. But she was married to her teacher because that young man really needed money to take care of his parents. But my cousin was kind of a high maintenance person. I mean, she was very spoiled. So when she. When he got to Guam. He came to my mother and said that. How do you feel if I just left Bích, yyou know, like because I, you know, she was really horrible to him. And my mother said well, you know, that's going to be, you know. She said frankly, I couldn't put up with the woman like that. You know, because my mother's a traditional woman. If she gets beaten up, that's one thing. But now this young woman is being like the spoiled child. So when my aunt found out that she. She thinks, she thought that my mother encouraged. 

    Interviewer [00:36:18] Him. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:36:19] Him to leave her daughter. Because in Guam, he was a free man. He married my cousin because he really needed my uncle's moneys to live off and help his family. And it was a very heartbreaking time in my life because my aunt and my mother separated. 

    Interviewer [00:36:44] In Guam? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:36:45] In Guam. Because instead of going together as a family. So she went to, we went to Arkansas and she went to California. So we separated and they went to. They were sponsored in Colorado. But then over time, they really missed each other because the first months in America was so lonely. So my aunt called her and said, why don't we. We are going to move to Oklahoma City. There are lots of jobs because the oil boom was on in Oklahoma City. It was lots of jobs and opportunities and lots of housing. So my. We were sponsored by the people in Illinois, which was really nice. And they really were going to deport my dad. They were ready to, but my mom wouldn't sign the paper, so she got afraid to that they would be monitoring her and separating my dad. So they ended up in Oklahoma City, and we've been here since.  

    Interviewer [00:37:56] Do you remember when you first came, like, the first day you arrived to the United States? Do you remember that first impression or how you felt or what you thought? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:38:06] Well, the Fort Chaffee was kind of a really different experience. It wasn't a house. It was a military base. I remember eating like Del Monte fruit cups. And I just, I thought I died and went to heaven, you know, because I thought, oh my god, the cherries and the raisins and. I mean, the food was I mean, I just couldn't say enough. Because I remember the snacks the first time. And I remember actually in Guam. Having an outfit that was like purple and different colors. And opening my eyes and thinking, this can't be real. You know, like there's colors. I would say I was seeing colors for the first time and having being aware of the world is so big and so beautiful and so great. And then I remember first time eating Lay's potato chips. It's still my favorite. And corn on the cob. I mean, I think because I was so hungry and I didn't have any clothes. I don't remember Fort Chaffee as much as I remember the first house that the sponsors gave us. 

    Interviewer [00:39:41] In Oklahoma? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:39:42] In Dixon. 

    Interviewer [00:39:43] In Dixon,  okay. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:39:45] And I just. They had it all perfectly put out for us. I just couldn't. I had never slept on a bed with covers, so we were so afraid to mess it up. We just slept over the cover and so I never knew I was cold until I had a cover telling me that this is what warmth was like. So I still could see the red, like the red twin beds that they had. And everything was so orderly. So I remember that house vividly and. It's just been an extraordinary journey for me. 

    Interviewer [00:40:29] You know, when I was growing up in the US, like for you. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:40:33] Oh, I just loved it. I loved, I loved school. I loved going to school. I loved being able to eat three meals a day, and that there was public education. That people wanted you to grow and succeed. So I've always loved learning so much. I've never stopped. And I thought the best thing my parents did was send me to a Catholic school. And there was. I loved the nuns being taught by them, and going to church. I loved being. What we replicated here in Oklahoma City was like living close to the church. Where you could walk to church. It was almost like a replica. And so I've never lost that part of myself. I wanted to be just like my mother in that way. In other ways, I would say that, you know, my mother got kind of the bad part of of being a Vietnamese woman, which is she accepted a lot of the ideology that she was inferior and had to like, withstand abuse like that. But in other ways, she was always like, the one that was working. So she worked throughout her whole life, at an Italian restaurant as a dishwasher. And she got to see her grandchildren become like doctors. So, you know, to her, you know, it was worth everything. And when she was ready to die, she just told me that there was nothing else that she needed to see. And that gave me a lot of peace, you know. And so I love growing up in America because the opportunities is just limitless. And I got to learn again what it was like in Vietnam in a safe place. So I went to school and I learned to read and write in Vietnamese again, which I never, you know, I never learned. 

    Interviewer [00:42:58] You weren't formally educated in Vietnam. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:42:59] No, I wasn't. I was never. So I just hired somebody. I was like, hey, just teach me how to read these marks and stuff. And they did. 

    Interviewer [00:43:09] Wait, so you hired someone as an adult? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:43:11] Yes. 

    Interviewer [00:43:13] That's amazing. I should do that. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:43:14] No, you don't need to. I mean, once you learn the basic. It was just like a month. And then you can you can take off in any kind of direction you want. I think the thing I fear here most is, is being lazy and being so content. I always want to feel that hunger that I felt. 

    Interviewer [00:43:38] Do you think you have children now? 

    Thuy Farrell [00:43:40] Yes.  

    Interviewer [00:43:41] How many. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:43:42] Well, my second sister, you know, the one. She was schizophrenic, so I adopted her four kids and took care of them. Because she also married a guy that was just like my dad. So I have four from her. And so, four of them are my kids, and therefore I have four beautiful grandkids. 

    Interviewer [00:44:13] That's great. So, we're going to sum up the last question. If you shared this story with your children, your grandchildren, what do they hope. What do you hope they will take away from it? Just everything that you've just shared with me. 

    Thuy Farrell [00:44:29] Well, I think it's not bad to be born hungry. And to stay hungry is to always search for a better life. But always be grateful in your search that you have an opportunity to search. So America is just built on that idea, and hopefully we can always protect that freedom. 

    Interviewer [00:44:58] Beautifully said. Thank you, cô.

    Speaker 3 [00:45:00] Thank you. 

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