Priscilla Chan-Zuckerberg: Ultimate story of American dream from a refugee background of Vietnam

Commentary: It is very interesting to find out that Priscilla’s father is actually from Vietnam. Chinese people are very proud and close-knit people. Mr. Chan came to the USA on the ground of political refugee from Vietnam. When the Ming dynasty in China fell to the Manchus and China became a colony of the Great Qing Empire in 1644, some Chinese mandarins of the Ming dynasty fled south and extensively settled in the Cham lands (Vietnam) and Cambodia. Most of these Chinese were young males, and they took local women as wives. However, their children identified more with Chinese culture.

Mạc Cửu (鄚玖,  or Mạc Kính Cửu (鄚敬玖) 1655 – 1735) was the most illustrious Chinese settler by serving as a mandarin for the lords Nguyen in South Vietnam. His contributions are still recognized until this day.

Mạc Cửu (鄚玖, or Mạc Kính Cửu (鄚敬玖): 1655 - 1735) in Hà Tiên (Kiên Giang)

Despite of being in Vietnam for three to four centuries, Chinese have always kept their culture and language because they believe in their superiority and are less fluent in Vietnamese.  For instance, Priscilla’s family may be from Vietnam, her background has only been portrayed as Chinese. The point I want to emphasize is that America is the only country on earth that Chinese immigrants’ descendants lose most of their identity, culture and language in one or two generations because they embrace the openness of the American culture and immerse themselves in the mainstream culture. America is truly a melting pot country, which makes America great and exceptional nation on earth. Also, America is exceptional because it is a land of opportunity. From a refugee background, Priscilla and parents’ hard work have given her the opportunity to attend Harvard and graduate from one of the prestigious medical school. 

Priscilla Chan, whose transformation into the wife of the world’s youngest billionaire Mark Zuckerberg is more remarkable than it may seem, is the child of a Chinese-Vietnamese father who arrived in America with his family in the 70s after spending time in a refugee camp. 

Later Dennis Chan, 47, raised enough money to open a Chinese restaurant, where he worked gruelling 18-hour days as he dreamt of his first-born daughter living the American dream. Priscilla was raised largely by her grandmother as her mother Yvonne also worked long hours at the Taste of Asia in Boston.

Restaurant owned by the father of Priscilla Chan. "Pho" is a famous Vietnamese delicacy

At the 1,200-pupil state-run Quincy High School in the working-class town of Quincy, near Boston, it quickly became clear that Priscilla was bright – and determined to get on. “She came up to me during that first year, when she was 13, and said, ‘What do I have to do to get into Harvard University?'” the Daily Mail quoted Peter Swanson, 66, her science teacher and tennis coach, as saying.

“I was stunned. In all my years of teaching I have never had a 13-year-old ask a question like that. She knew what she wanted, even back then I encouraged her to join the tennis team because I %knew that Harvard would require her to have a well-rounded resume

“She was mostly raised by her Chinese grandmother, who spoke no English. She was a very dignified woman who clearly was a huge influence in Priscilla’s life. The grandmother was her emotional support. Her parents were working long hours – 18-hour days – at the restaurant. 

“Priscilla worked incredibly hard at her studies and graduated top of her class. She gave me a voucher for a free meal at her family’s restaurant as a gift. It was clear the family came from humble beginnings but were prepared to work hardaround the clock to make something of their new life in America. Priscilla had that drive within her. She did everything she needed to round out her resume and make it attractive to Harvard. And she joined the tennis club – she was not a natural athlete but with hard practice she steadily improved. 

When she got into Harvard she ran up to me grinning from ear to ear and said, ‘See, I told you I would get to Harvard!'” he said.

Swanson visited Priscilla and her new husband at their 3.5 million home in Palo Alto, California, last year. “Mark was at the kitchen table working on his computer. Priscilla introduced us and he grinned and said, ‘Behind every great man there is a great woman’. People are saying how lucky she is to marry him, but he knows he’s the lucky one. Priscilla is the ultimate story of the American dream made good. Her parents came to US with virtually nothing and she has married a self-made billionaire. It doesn’t get much better than that,” he said.

Priscilla has closely guarded her family’s humble roots, releasing only a few titbits through Facebook’s PR machine. Her ‘official’ biography states that after Quincy High, she studied biology at Harvard where she met Zuckerberg as they queued for the toilet at a party in 2003. Recently graduated from the medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, she plans to become a pediatrician.

Source Times of India

This entry was posted in American Exceptionalism, Culture, Diaspora, History, Media, Role model, Society, Wealth. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Priscilla Chan-Zuckerberg: Ultimate story of American dream from a refugee background of Vietnam

  1. Luong says:

    This document is extremely POORLY written!!! The VAST majority of Chinese living in Vietnam lose their culture, language and customs within ONE or TWO generations! Just look at the newly conquered southern and central parts of Vietnam where a large portion of the people there had ancestors from China. Today, they are 99.9% Vietnamese and consider themselves so! It would be quite an insult to label them as Chinese.

    And who says that America is a melting pot? FAR FROM IT!!! You still have Chinatowns, Black ghettos and Mexican barrios! The author of this docment deserves nothing short of a dismay F for such a poorly written research!

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