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Vietnamese immigrant now helps pave way for other families starting new life in Boston

Woman from Vietnam uses experience to help new families feel welcome in Boston
Woman from Vietnam uses experience to help new families feel welcome in Boston 02:17

BOSTON – Huong Vu can regularly be found inside the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester, explaining how she left her native Vietnam for Boston 12 years ago. Her story of how it can be challenging to transition to life in the United States serves as a resource for families going through similar experiences

Vu and her Vietnamese-American husband met when he was back home visiting family. They got married, started a family, then made the move to Boston. She admits, at first it was difficult.

"English is my barrier, and I don't have a degree here, so how can I get a job?" she recalls wondering.

Huong Vu arrived in Boston 12 years ago. Huong Vu

Special connection with immigrant families

A mother of two young girls, Vu attended a parent-child playgroup at the Boys and Girls Club when she arrived in Boston. She found an immediate connection with other parents. Soon after, Vu was asked if she'd like to be a group volunteer.

"Every day she brings something new and different and exciting," said Mary Kinsella Scannell, the senior vice president of education, inclusion and community engagement at the club.

Scannell said she immediately saw something in Vu.

"She connects with families in a way that I know that I would love to but I know there are ways she can connect that I can't," Scannell said.

Vu understands the challenges parents face. Dorchester is home to more than 13,000 Vietnamese residents. Many of them are new to the country.

"The parents, they come to our playgroup to look for support and make sure that their needs will be met," Vu said.

An important resource at the Boys and Girls Club

Scannell gave Vu an opportunity to grow, hiring her as a full-time family engagement specialist. 

Huong Vu helps immigrant families get settled in Boston. CBS Boston

"We always want to be open-minded and make sure we are thinking about and accepting ways that might look a little different," Scannell said.

Vu not only conducts the weekly playgroups, but also helps others with job training, parenting skills, school registration and more. She's also been asked by outside organizations to share her best practices. 

Her motivation is simple.

"After 10 years, I got so many opportunities to learn, grow and develop new exciting leadership skills so now it's my turn to pay it forward," Vu said.

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