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After 11 Years Apart, Vietnamese Father and Son Reunite in Michigan

February is a special month for 18-year-old Nhan Cao Phan.  This month, one year ago, marks the happiest time in the life of the Vietnamese refugee.  On Feb. 26, 2010, Nhan and his father, Sang Van Phan, were reunited after being separated for more than a decade.

When his father fled Vietnam and resettled in the United States as a refugee, Nhan was only six years old.  He stayed behind in Ho Chi Minh City with his mother and elderly grandmother.  For the next 11 years, the only form of contact between the father and son was by phone.

Father and son reunite

But that was about to change when Nhan was a teenager.  His parents felt that he was old enough to leave Vietnam and join his father in America.  With the help of the USCRI Field Office in Detroit, Nhan was reunited with his father in Waterford, MI.

“All these years I’ve been waiting for the day I would see my son again,” said Sang. “I still can hardly believe that that dream has finally come true.”

At the airport in Detroit, MI, Nhan was greeted by his father, stepmother, and three step sisters, who were thrilled to finally meet their brother.  Although he is very shy by nature, his big smile revealed how truly happy he was to see his father again and get to know his new family.

Adjusting to a new way of life

Thanks to his family’s help and dedication, Nhan quickly mastered the ins and outs of life in America.  He was eager to learn English, enroll in school, and join the school’s soccer team.  But most of all he loves being with his family.

“I enjoy every minute I spend with my family,” said Nhan. “We have so much fun exploring Michigan together.”

While he misses his family and friends he had to leave behind in Vietnam, he is able to keep in touch via email, online chats, and webcams.  When Nhan gets really homesick, his father and stepmother cook traditional Vietnamese dishes to bring back fond memories of home.

They also love to share Vietnamese food and cuisine with their American community.  When a USCRI case manager, Asra Musaibli (pictured above with Nhan on her left and Sang on her right), stopped by the family’s home to check how Nhan is adjusting, Sang surprised her with a large tray of Vietnamese eggrolls to take to the office.

“We are so thankful to USCRI for reuniting our family,” said Sang. “We wanted to share some of our culture’s favorite foods with all the staff.”  

USCRI Detroit is proud to have resettled Nhan and hopes to continue helping diverse refugee communities rebuild their lives in Michigan.

Help refugees like Nhan build a new life in the Detroit area >>

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Read more about USCRI Detroit’s resettlement program >>

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