Presented By

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  1. The Elevation of Tex-Mex
    Mico Rodriguez
  2. The Bounty of the Barnett Shale
    Kelcy Warren
  3. The Entrepreneurial Woman
    Tomima Edmark
  4. The Growth of the Vietnamese Community
    Jennifer Nguyen
  5. The Founding of Uptown
    Phil Cobb
  6. The Changing Face of Politics
    Craig Watkins
  7. The Brain Gain
    Dr. Hao Zhu
  8. The Four Sport Town
    Mike Modano
  9. The Underground Culture
    Katherine Owens
  10. The Catholic Migration
    Father Ivan Asencio
  11. The Organized South Asian Community
    John Hammond
  12. The Next Way to Develop
    Jeff Blackard
  13. The Allure of the Silicon Prairie
    Anousheh Ansari
  14. The lighting of Reunion Tower
    George Schrader
  15. The New Old Tradition
    Jennifer Moreno
  16. The Test Kitchen
    Mariel Street
  17. The Art Magnet
    Kevin Moriarty
  18. The Glamorous Return of Dallas Shopping
    Brian Bolke
  19. The Strengthening of the Gay Community
    Jack Evans and George Harris
  20. The Resurgence of Downtown Dallas
    Art Ortiz
  21. The Megachurch Boom
    Ed Young
  22. The Fundraisers
    Lynn McBee
  23. The Refuge
    Pedro Amaya
  24. The Reason Dallas Took Off
    Ron Barzyk
  25. The Girl Who Stayed Home
    Erykah Badu
  26. The Preservation of Our Historic Buildings
    Virginia McAlester
  27. The Thriving Ethiopian Community
    Birhan Mekonnen
  28. The New Dallas ISD
    Jessica Leija
  29. The Rebirth of the Trinity River
    Peter Payton
  30. The Trains Start Running
    Ladrika Davis Gross
  31. The Architect of an Art Scene
    Stephen Lapthisophon
  32. The Calculator That Changed the World
    Vonnie Howard
  33. The Rise and Fall and Rise of Deep Ellum
    Frank Campagna
  34. The Big Move
    Kendra Norwood
  35. The Expanding Empire in Fort worth
    Scott Hernandez
  36. The Family Recipe
    Chuy Cruz
  37. The Transformation of Oak Cliff
    David Spence
  38. The Now-Legal Immigrant
    Jesus Castillo Carrizales
  39. The City of Philanthropists
    Lyda Hill
  40. The Transplants
    Tara Vornkahl
00 The Growth of the Vietnamese Community Saturday, June 14, at 2:21pm at the Vietnamese-American Activities Center during a military festival

Jennifer Nguyen

Seven days before Saigon fell, Jennifer Nguyen fled. On April 23, 1975, she gathered her four children, boarded a plane with 82 other South Vietnamese military wives and children, and headed to her new life. With little English and even less money, she eventually landed in California, then Arizona, and then, 10 years later, she moved to Garland. There she found a community grappling with its new neighbors and unwilling to budge.

“When I tried to mingle and do something at the city level, I always received very cold treatment, rejection,” Nguyen says, “like we did not belong here. But that gave me more power, more dreams, more high hopes. I’m not going to let you push me away. I’m going to keep trying and make you understand I’m your friend.”

So she gathered the growing Vietnamese community and gave them a sense of purpose. She brought seniors to parks, to watch how American families interacted. She hosted parties at her house for young Vietnamese families and encouraged women to take English classes at night. In 1999, she turned a former Taylor Equipment Rental (which had no floor or air conditioning) into Garland’s Vietnamese-American Activities Center.

In 1970, there were so few Southeast Asians in North Texas that the Census Bureau lumped all 1,587 of them into a group designated as “Other Asia,” which apparently included everywhere in Asia but China, Japan, and “Southwest Asia.” As of 2012, nearly 58,000 Vietnamese live here.

Now Nguyen—the Texas PR director for VIETV, a Vietnamese television network—spends her spare time working with other Asian communities in Frisco, Arlington, and Grand Prairie, helping them develop relationships with their cities. And she heads Garland’s Community Multicultural Commission, possibly the furthest thought from her mind when she stepped into the city in 1985.

“I’m very hard-headed and always have big dreams,” she says. “Without dreams, I wouldn’t be here today. You’ve got to dream big.”