As the daughter of a wealthy rice merchant in South Vietnam, Ha Tran led a privileged life, in spite of mounting civil unrest that ultimately led to war. After graduating high school, Ha entered law school. With the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, the Americans left South Vietnam and the Communists took over.
This radical change meant that anyone could be arrested and tortured at any time. Fear and terror ruled their lives, and the fact that Ha and her father were educated and wealthy meant further danger as they were viewed as examples of capitalism. Her father’s property was confiscated. They endured communist persecution, torture, malnutrition, little or no medical care and reeducation camps.
In order to ensure her safety and survival, Ha’s father knew that Ha must escape Vietnam and the Communist regime. Through a series of trials and clandestine plans that Ha reveals in her presentations, Ha, her husband and two small children fled Vietnam in small, unsafe, crowded boats along with the second wave of approximately two million refugees who were all later contained at asylum refugee camps for 15 months.
This set Ha on a path of the unknown, at the age of 20, from which there was no turning back. With the help of the American Red Cross and other relief organizations, Ha and her family were able to secure sponsorship and gratefully made their way to America. The excitement of arriving in a new land with renewed hope soon turned to paralyzing fear when the Tran family found themselves stranded in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. They spoke no English and had a grand total of twenty American dollars in their possession. Thanks to the largesse of ten women in a Bible study group, Ha and her young family began to build a new life.
Though their rates of civic assimilation were the highest among all the large immigrant groups, Ha and her family, along with other South Vietnamese refugees initially faced fierce resentment by Americans following the turmoil and upheaval of the Vietnam War. Similar to other Vietnamese Americans who began their lives in the U.S. as political refugees, Ha viewed America as her permanent home while experiencing trials along the way.
Today, Ha is a success coach, life strategist and professional speaker for individuals and organizations that are facing change and uncertainty. With her Navigational Coaching System, Ha teaches children and adults how to create the mindset that allows them to accept and manage change, set priorities and keep commitments using the power of focus. Wife, mother of four college-educated children and grandmother to six, Ha is the author of Empowered by Hope. The recipient of the Massachusetts Conference for Women’s “Live Fearlessly, 2011 Contest,” Ha holds a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics from Illinois State University.