What a beautiful tribute. When I moved to Iowa I became friends with a girl who was a refugee from Vietnam. Her name was Lan Pham. She lived several blocks away from me and was in foster care with an elderly church going couple. LAN assimilated quickly to American life.

LAN soon chose a new name for herself. Tara Beyer. She had a party one afternoon at her home when we were in the Ninth grade.

At the end of the year she moved to another school district, and we kept in touch by phone. Her brother came from Vietnam to the Detroit area and she left Iowa to live with him and his family. Her brother committed suicide. Tara moved to Arizona and we lost track of one another. I moved to , then Florida.

Tara never spoke about her life in Vietnam. I never knew if she didn’t remember, or didn’t want to talk about it.

I moved back to Iowa and have wondered where she is now.

I was so glad to have had the opportunity to have my refugee friend. She so embraced living in the United States.

There were so many Vietnamese refugees resettled in Iowa during the late 1970s. I only know some of the story of my friend Lan.

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I like your optimism, and I agree!

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Jan 7Liked by Macey Shofroth

People are living in fear throughout the country, most of it driven by xenophobes and racists afraid of losing power and to be treated like they treat others different than them. When my great great grandparents came to this country, all they had to do was file 1st papers that said they renounced their former citizenship then waited five years to file their second papers and if they hadn't been a problem with the law or any other thing, they were granted citizenship. That was it! Immigration for the most part is a way to keep people out, and does a wonderful job of it most of the time. There have been other laws to keep people out like the Oriental Exclusion Act, and there have been ways to push people out that were used against socialists, communists, union organizers and people simply exercising their Constitutional Rights! Most were citizens! Since I'm a fifth generation German in America and still full blooded, the kinds of things my American forebearers had to deal with aren't something that are talked about much. In WWI speaking any foreign language on the telephone got you a hefty fine, all foreign language newspapers were shuttered and many never came back. That was here, in Iowa! Our German culture was simply erased along with the language. Here in Monticello I have attempted to bring it back a bit by bringing a bus tour to Monticello from Northern Germany here and have done it three times, given things work out I will have another 34 Germans here this year. I don't speak German, but I have good connections and have been to where my family came from 6 or 7 times. Often when the German's are here they find distant cousins, and for many it is the first time they have ever met family from Germany! It is an eye opener, dealing with people who look like you, but English is not their first language, but they learn alot simply from the experience! We open up to the public with a meet and greet session every time and tour around to the churches and whatever I can throw together for a bit of a tour. It isn't a big deal, only a day or two and they are off to another location. All I can say is you dowhat you can when you can to make things better, life is way to short to wait for someone else to fix the problems, do what you can where you are , every little bit helps!

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Thanks for this piece. It's an important reminder that our history can be our future.

In the late 70s and early 80s I had the privilege to work with a group of geologists who were part of the Iowa Geological Survey. They were a creative, productive, and progressive folks that got a lot of important scientific work done. Based on your description, I think they were public servants who reflected Governor Ray's leadership. I remember that they spoke highly of him.

Over the past 20 or 30 years, many of those dedicated public servants moved away to other jobs, took early retirement, or left the profession. I had the sense that things had changed within the Geological Survey and sure enough, it was reorganized and pretty well obliterated as a part of the general "clean-up" of state agencies. In retrospect, this was all a manifestation of the swing away from government that serves the people's needs to one that reflects ideological extremes.

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