Hello, my name is Randy Kim, and I was the first one born in America on both sides of my family. My dad’s family was from Vietnam but are Cambodian, and my mom’s side of the family are Vietnamese. Both families had come to the United States as refugees from the Vietnam War and the Cambodian genocide in the early 80s.
My father was one of 5 siblings. My father’s mother had died when my father was less than 4 years old. As a result, my grandfather could not care for the family. My father and his oldest brother Tunh were sent to live with their uncle in Cambodia. The rest of the family stayed behind with their father. As my dad and my Uncle Tunh were in their 20s, the Cambodian Killing Field era began. Their uncle was later killed. My dad and uncle escaped into Thailand and migrated to the US.
Eventually, both of them would help sponsor my Uncle Sean. However, only my aunt who’s the oldest in the family, and my uncle “Boo” who was the youngest remained behind in Vietnam. My Uncle Sean, also a US citizen, tried to sponsor them for the last 20+ years, but after years of wasted money, endless run around, and no answer, my uncle’s wish never came true.
Last November, I found out that Boo, my youngest uncle died of cancer. Many of my family members, especially those that were born in the US after me had never seen him, and the rest of my family in Vietnam. To them, they should be family, but instead, they are strangers to one another. My aunt still remains, but is also getting older. I look at family albums, and there was not one picture where all of my father’s siblings are together. I always wondered what my family would have been like had all of the siblings reunited, how many memories could have been created? How much my life and my family’s life would be impacted by their presence? It’s the answer that my family and I will never be able to find out.
I’ve seen too many families waiting for an answer that will never arrive, and I sincerely hope that all of our families will never be forced to wait years before they can be together again. Our families deserve to have a photo of their loved ones together in their photo album, to be there in time of need, and to not be strangers to one another.