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Molly's Blog Archive

February 7th, 2017
As I write this blog post, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is set to rule on the legality of the Trump ban on immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. This nation was built by immigration and I thought it would be nice to share the story of one of our teachers who immigrated to the United States.
- Molly

Ms. Ngoc Tran is one of our most experienced faculty members. She joined the CDS family in 2000 and has been with us ever since, serving as a teacher in the Preschool Leaping Lizards classroom. She came to America as an adult after spending her early years in Vietnam and China, and we’d like to share her story of immigration and life in a new country.

Ms. Ngoc was born in Vietnam, but, like many ethnically Chinese people, she faced systemic discrimination and left the country in the late 1970s. After arriving in China by train, she lived in a refugee camp in a rural area, having to work on a small farm in an environment which she describes as like a jail. Rice farming was the hardest job she’d ever experienced, especially because she had been born and raised in the very different world of a big city. In 1984, she relocated to the United States to join her parents, who had recently immigrated there.

When Ms. Ngoc arrived in the U.S., she began by working twelve-hour days in a restaurant, and later worked in a sewing factory and a jewelry store while also attending night school classes to improve her command of the English language. She has always been interested in education, and she began volunteering at the Head Start program in 1992 when her daughter was enrolled there. With an AA degree in Childhood Development (which she obtained while also working full-time and taking care of her family) as well as the ability to speak Mandarin, Cantonese, and Vietnamese, she was the perfect fit to work in a multicultural school environment. She was employed full-time at Head Start within a few years.

In 2000, one of Ms. Ngoc’s colleagues recommended her to CDS. After getting an impression of our school’s culture, she said to herself, “This is a good program, this is what I’m looking for; I’m going to make it happen,” and decided to take the job. She’s been with us ever since. In our end-of-year evaluations, where we ask our teachers what they think they’ll be doing five years from now, she says every time that she’ll be working at CDS for the rest of her career.

During the 2016 winter holidays, Ms. Ngoc returned to Vietnam for the first time in nearly forty years. She found that the country had changed in many ways, but that it continued to struggle with significant problems, including class inequality and the unavailability of public education. “We always have to remember what we have here,” she says, feeling that the United States offers a much greater chance at success. “When I came here, I had so many opportunities. No matter how difficult the language barrier, the job, or my family situation, I made it happen, and I feel so fortunate.”

Ms. Ngoc enjoys sharing aspects of Chinese culture with her students, and she feels that her teaching career has instilled her with a lot of knowledge about the importance of multiculturalism and equality. At all of her family gatherings, she reminds her relatives of a principle that is important for everyone to remember: “This is a country with so many opportunities. Some of us take it for granted, but we should never do that. There should be an opportunity for all of us.”

More recent posts

January 20th, 2017

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Assembly

At Children’s Day School, we celebrate diversity, work for justice and fairness, and cultivate respect for all people. We share these values with Dr. Martin Luther King, whose work we honored on January 20 at our annual Martin Luther King assembly.... read more
January 4th, 2017

New Year's Resolutions

Thinking about the new year, and the year that just ended, I was reminded of a talk that Tal Ben-Shahar gave to independent school parents here in San Francisco a couple of years ago. His book Being Happy: You Don’t Have to be Perfect to Lead a... read more
December 16th, 2016

Nutrition at CDS

“Food has always been a really important part of my life,” says Third Grade Pelicans Teacher Taryn Colonnese, whose lifelong interest in the study of nutrition has led her to take an active role in community gardens and the food justice movement.... read more
November 16th, 2016

Sugar Coated

Did you know that children between the ages of 2 and 18 must consume less than six teaspoons of added sugars each day to maintain a healthy heart, but that a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola contains nearly ten teaspoons of sugar? Once it all adds up,... read more
November 15th, 2016

Prosthetic Hands in the iLab

Our eighth-grade students in the Innovation Lab are working on their own designs for a prosthetic hand for children. After gaining inspiration from a visit to the preschool classrooms (where they observed the most popular activities among three- and... read more