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Trinh Q. Truong



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Getting a bit emotional on bus to Oxford for my graduation ceremony. Two years ago, right before I was to leave, my family was going to get evicted. I wiped my savings for Oxford to help them buy a house. I came to Oxford not knowing how I was going to pay rent.

I didn’t have money for my visa fees or my flight to the UK. I’ll never forget how people I don’t even know on here sent me money so I could continue my education. Then, term started and my uncle nearly died in a horrific and bloody work accident that my mom witnessed.

My family scrambled to pick up the pieces while I constantly worried. From an ocean and time zones away, I liaised with doctors, lawyers, therapists. I was living off the generosity of my college and friends. I picked up a job and balanced that with being a full-time student.

I was furious and I felt powerless. My education could not save me despite everyone telling me so. At that time, it did nothing for my family. I was reading about international refugee law while my uncle bled out on a factory floor next to my mom.

I was in a classroom in Europe discussing and debating refugee inclusion and integration, when I couldn’t make sense of these things for myself and my family after twenty years in America.

Two years later, the dust has settled. My parents have their house; my uncle suffers from phantom pain. Mom works at the same factory still being underpaid while I conduct research from conference rooms in Washington. Life has gone on.

I glance back to my mom sleeping with her head propped on the bus window. And I breathe a sigh of relief that somehow we keep on keeping on despite how much more the world owes refugees and asylum-seekers resettled and yet to be. I can’t hold back the tears.

I am a first-generation, low-income refugee proudly the product of a working-class mother. Today I will receive my M.Sc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from the University of Oxford not in spite of, but because of that fact.

Trinh Q. Truong


Refugee. Immigration policy @AmProg. Vice President of @UnionatCAP. First-gen @Yale and Oxford @RefugeeStudies alumna. Views mine.

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