Former child refugee will soon graduate from medical school

Anh Duy và bà Mẹ

(SACRAMENTO) (UC Davis Health): Duy Nguyen was just 5 years old when smugglers led him, his mother, his aunt and about 40 other people toward a boat to escape communist Vietnam.
“It was a huge gamble,” Nguyen recalled. “My mother had actually tried to escape seven times and failed, and each time she got caught, she went to prison.”
Getting to the boat was rough – passengers had to walk through shallow but wave-whipped water to reach the vessel in the cover of night. By the time he boarded, Nguyen had become separated from his family but was reunited shortly after the boat headed toward the Philippines.
Nguyen is now a student at the UC Davis School of Medicine, where he will graduate in May
He’s eager to share vital insight about the refugee experience with behavioral health providers: Nguyen wrote a paper about his saga that was recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
“The traumas of the refugee experience are real, but it is important to see what may have been gained from those experiences,” Nguyen wrote in the paper, “Hunted: Thoughts on Escape and Safety.”
“For a year, we lived like animals, each day scavenging for food and safety, scampering along hidden trails untouched by sidewalks or laws, our predators both criminals and the police – we knew we could be killed on sight,” Nguyen wrote.
“And, in fact, it’s been estimated that up to 70% of us died. It is no wonder that even years later in the safety of a new land, we carried this hiding with us, whether in school or in a doctor’s office.”

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