From Vietnam to North Carolina

Snow Rahlen came to Greensboro, N.C., in the summer of 1994. She came from the Montagnard community in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Over 5,000 Montagnard people live in North Carolina – the largest population in the world outside of Vietnam. Snow brought her longtime sponsor and friend, Celia Shankle, with her to have a conversation in MobileBooth East.

Snow described her journey to the U.S. 15 years ago. On the way, there was a flight delay in Taipei, Taiwan. A couple hundred of people that came with her on her flight slept in the waiting room at the airport. “Changing flights takes a lot of faith,” she said. “All you have to do is carry your ticket and they tell you where to go. Just the airplane journey prepared me a lot for being in a new country.”

Snow talked about the motivation of her brothers and her sister who came with her to the United States. “We’re here to succeed and we’re going to do whatever it takes to accomplish our goals.” They worked hard to buy a house. “We all have a separate room now. It’s a luxury for us. It comes from us. We worked hard for it. Back home, we shared a small room with 6 people.”

Snow now acts as an interpreter for other Montagnards in North Carolina. “As an interpreter,” Celia said to Snow, “You’re standing between two cultures.” Snow has helped people from her community navigate themselves through the health care system and find jobs. She has also been able to listen and empathize with their resettlement stories.

“It humbles me. I was there before them 15 years ago. We didn’t have an interpreter back then,” Snow said.



2 Responses to “From Vietnam to North Carolina”

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  • Thanks for sharing Snow’s story.

    Comment from Chaela on March 16, 2009 at 5:28 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Cool story, Alex. I am forwarding this to my dad, who worked in military intelligence during the vietnam war, and spoke vietnamese.

    Comment from Andy on March 13, 2009 at 11:52 am - Reply to this Comment

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