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Think Global, Act Local: Cultivating Growth Beyond Vietnam

Photo By Nolan P. Schmidt

Springy Greetings

If you have ever been to a dancing show or cultural festival in town you have probably seen the person I have the privilege to have interviewed.

Lady Kristy Tran is a driven stellar woman who has a passion for serving others and giving a sense of belonging in the FM area to anyone fortunate to cross her path. Her beloved family is from Vietnam and came to North Dakota in the ’90s as Vietnam war refugees. She is the first to graduate from college and she absolutely loves her community here in Fargo!

Lady Kristy currently works for a local non- profit called Friends of the Children. She first got involved with non-profits in college, volunteering at local food shelters, YWCA and homeless shelters. By volunteering at all these places, it made her realize that she wanted to give back to her community that helped shape her to be the stellar person she is today!

Lady Kristy became so passionate about the nonprofit world that she is now working for one.

Fargo is fortunate to have her call here home! Until our paths cross again:
Stay Healthy!


Where do you call home?

Fargo is home because this is where I was born and raised.

What is your journey of growth and lessons learned in the FM area?

The FM area has helped my family grow and prosper in so many ways. I had a
lot of help growing up from mentors, teachers, neighbors, family and friends. Although my parents were Vietnamese immigrants and had to restart their lives
in a country that was unfamiliar, this community never failed when my family and I needed help. Fargo gave us so many great opportunities to cultivate growth. From getting an opportunity to receive higher education, getting access to food when my family needed it the most and medical assistance for when my mom was diagnosed with diabetes. The amount of love and support in this community is incredible.

Where does your passion for traveling come from?

I didn’t start traveling as much until I graduated college. However, I fell in love with it because traveling gives us so many more opportunities to learn about different cultures. I’ve been so fascinated with the stories and traditions of each country I travel to. I enjoy exploring and discovering new cultures, new people, new foods and everything that has a learning curve and a chance to broaden my mind. I believe that every experience and every conversation you have teaches you something new.

How was is it transitioning from high school to NDSU?

I was very nervous but excited to move on from high school to NDSU. I knew that I would be meeting new people and hopefully find my type of “people.” I knew that going to a bigger school would mean bigger opportunities. I was kind of an outsider in high school, I had a huge interest in hip hop dance and that was definitely not popular at the time. I had a few friends that would support and actually make fun dance videos with me, but I never felt like I really “fit in.” I was also one out of the only six Asian people in the school so NDSU really created a diverse place for me.

When I was at NDSU I was president of the Vietnamese & International Student Association club and the NDSU hip hop team. Dancing was my ultimate passion, it made me feel phenomenal. I felt so comfortable and I honestly had the best time of my life there!

Why should people care about places outside the Midwest world?

I believe people should care to read about the outside world because there is SO MUCH more out there than our small town. Get out of your comfort zone, feed your brain new information, learn about how other people in the world live, or even how the other parts of the USA work. Just like when Dr. Suess said “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” I truly stand by that!

What are some misconceptions that need to be dispelled?

I think the biggest misconception about Vietnam is that it is “a poor country” because of the war and everyone (outside of Vietnam) still thinks that people still live in huts and don’t have electricity. Vietnam is a huge country with a lot of cool and advanced technology. Recovering from the devastating war, Vietnam has definitely changed for the better and is a country that has grown so much since then. Vietnam is the second-largest exporter of coffee in the world, second only to Brazil (we are huge coffee drinkers; we love it with just condensed milk. No extra sugars or caramel).

Also, Vietnam’s food philosophy is based on five elements: spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (Earth). The perfect meal would have a balance of all these elements. I think this is why Vietnamese food has become such a global trend right now. Another cool fact is that about 16 percent of the world’s species can be found in Vietnam, reflecting a high level of biodiversity. It is such a beautiful country and I am so proud to be Vietnamese.

What did you learn growing up between many cultures that you can apply in Fargo?

I learned that you have to be patient and respectful of everyone, cultures are part of everyone’s identity and to be rash and think that we are all the same is very small-minded. Fargo is considered small, however, I believe the people living here have big hearts and are so much more welcoming to New Americans and people with different backgrounds.

What is your vision 2030? Where will you be and why?

Hopefully, by 2030, I would have my own authentic Vietnamese restaurant. My other interest is cooking. My mother has taught me everything about Vietnamese cooking and I’ve taken such great interest in it. Vietnamese food is so rich and full of flavor, I can’t wait to show the FM area what real Vietnamese food tastes like.

Written by Alexandre Cyusa

Alexandre Cyusa came to the FM area in the fall of 2010 to attend Concordia College. Originally from Kigali, Rwanda, Cyusa has lived in Switzerland, Ethiopia, Guinea and France. His traveling experiences have helped him in making this world a smaller and simpler place to live in. He currently works for Folkways and is interested in community development and nurturing global citizenship.

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