Freedom is sometimes taken for granted. For Vanthay Hong, moving to the United States provided an amount of freedom he never imaged while living in Cambodia.
Freedom is sometimes taken for granted. For Vanthay Hong, moving to the United States provided the freedom he never imaged while living in Cambodia.
Vanthay was born in Siem Reap, Cambodia in 1988. He and his family fled the village after it was burned to ashes by of the Khmer Rouge—a radical, communist group that once plagued the country and executed over 2 million of its own people. After fleeing, Vanthay and his family moved to Tonlé Sap. He received his education from a floating school on the lake, and then he lived in a Buddhist temple where he was given board and schooling in exchange for doing chores. His family decided to move after they had been reunited with Vanthay’s long-lost grandfather who left for the United States after believing his wife and children had been murdered by the Khmer Rouge.
In 1998, Vanthay landed in Minneapolis, witnessing snow for the first time in his life. He finished his primary education in St. Louis Park. Despite knowing very little English upon his arrival, Vanthay remained a motivated and competitive student. He attended high school at St. Louis Park High School where he was a first team All-State, three time All-Conference, three time captain of his soccer team and an honor roll student. Upon graduating high school, he earned a Division I scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee then transferred to Augsburg College on an academic scholarship.
Vanthay graduated from Augsburg in 2011 with a degree in biology. Currently, he is a fraud data analyst in the Department of Fraud and Dispute Management at US Bank and a youth soccer coach in St. Louis Park. He lives in Golden Valley, Minnesota.
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