2007.02.15: February 15, 2007: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Asian American Issues: Vietnam: Community Press & Recorder: Ghana RPCV Hai Sam escaped from Vietnam in 1977

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ghana: Peace Corps Ghana : Peace Corps Ghana: Newest Stories: 2007.02.15: February 15, 2007: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Asian American Issues: Vietnam: Community Press & Recorder: Ghana RPCV Hai Sam escaped from Vietnam in 1977

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Ghana RPCV Hai Sam escaped from Vietnam in 1977

Ghana RPCV Hai Sam escaped from Vietnam in 1977

Hai Sam remembers the boat on which he and his family tried to escape Communist rule in Saigon in 1977. It was a wooden boat, and he, his mother, father and two brothers were packed "like sardines" with dozens of other refugees in darkness and total silence. "When we were kids, every summer, mom and dad would take us to the ocean. We thought we were just going on vacation, but at night, we were guided to a boat in the dark night, so I was scared," said Sam.

After completing his master's degree in 1994, Sam couldn't find a job, and took it as his cue to join the Peace Corps to give back to society, since society through the United nations helped his family escape to freedom. For two-and-a-half years he lived in Ghana with no electricity or running water in a small village, teaching math, science and engineering.

Through his involvement with the General Electric Volunteer math mentoring program with Princeton and co-leading the Princeton High School After-Prom Booster, Sam, a Liberty Township resident, stays connected with his alma mater. It's just another way Sam is giving back.


Ghana RPCV Hai Sam escaped from Vietnam in 1977

Evacuee passionate about school

BY ANDREA REEVES | COMMUNITY PRESS STAFF WRITER

SHARONVILLE - Hai Sam remembers the boat on which he and his family tried to escape Communist rule in Saigon in 1977.

It was a wooden boat, and he, his mother, father and two brothers were packed "like sardines" with dozens of other refugees in darkness and total silence.

"When we were kids, every summer, mom and dad would take us to the ocean. We thought we were just going on vacation, but at night, we were guided to a boat in the dark night, so I was scared," said Sam.

But the boat's engine broke down and had to turn around, only to encounter the Viet Cong Coast Guard.

Sam and his mother and brothers were separated from his father, along with the other women and children, and were locked up in a cell the size of a small bedroom with 30 other people.

They were fed once a day. Their only beds were a concrete floor. They did their business in a gutter that was flushed once a day.

"I lived in that environment for three months. I was 8 years old," said Sam.

The family finally escaped in 1979 to Cincinnati on a sponsorship by friends in Anderson, and settled in the Princeton City School District.

"Princeton High School gave me a keen understanding about people of different races, different opinions, different values and different life experiences," said Sam.

"My former fellow students and I at PHS found a common goal of helping each others to cope with our differences and we guided each other through educational and emotional challenges."

Sam graduated in 1987, then studied aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati, motivated by the Challenger space shuttle explosion in 1986.

After completing his master's degree in 1994, Sam couldn't find a job, and took it as his cue to join the Peace Corps to give back to society, since society through the United nations helped his family escape to freedom.

For two-and-a-half years he lived in Ghana with no electricity or running water in a small village, teaching math, science and engineering.

A few years and one job later, Sam became an engineer for General Electric in Evendale, designing compressor air foils.

Sam, who is now a lead engineer repairing air foils, says, "It's like parenting. You give birth to an airfoil and now you want to make sure the airfoil stays on wing and lasts forever."

Through his involvement with the General Electric Volunteer math mentoring program with Princeton and co-leading the Princeton High School After-Prom Booster, Sam, a Liberty Township resident, stays connected with his alma mater.

It's just another way Sam is giving back.

But Sam wants to look back - from space.

"I hope to see myself go into space to experience weightlessness and look back on earth and admire its beauty."

areeves@communitypress.com
576-8246




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Headlines: February, 2007; Peace Corps Ghana; Directory of Ghana RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Ghana RPCVs; Asian American Issues; Viet Nam





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Story Source: Community Press & Recorder

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ghana; Asian American Issues; Vietnam

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