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  South Vietnam
Hanh Ngoc Disch-Lê - 1982

Greetings from Rio de Janeiro & 
Happy New Year! 

Our family came to Oberlin as refugees through the sponsor of family friends at First Church in Oberlin. I am originally from Vietnam. My host family was Stella Dickerman who was a retired art professor at Oberlin College and the Elders, the ministry of First Church. I am delighted to write about my experience since I graduated from Oberlin High School. 

At an Indian village in the Amazon jungle in Brazil.

"Twenty-years-in-a-nutshell sounds like a tall order. It certainly reminds me of the Nutshell series that law students use in an attempt to learn various subjects of law the night before the exam. So, here it is. Being raised from the death by OHS for the 20th year reunion was a rather bewildering experience for me. I hadn't thought about the time that had passed since graduation from OHS. The best thing about it is that it put me back in touch with long-lost friends. In some way, it is quite shocking to realize that so much time has gone by that quickly. However, I am glad to be able to say that I have lived, expanded my horizon and grown a lot during this time. Along the way, I picked up a few other languages besides English.

Currently, I am living in beautiful and sunny Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Every day, I drive along the beach in Ipanema and Copacabana to and from work which put me in daily contact with the 

most wonderful people in the world - the Brazilians. We have been living in Brazil since the last quarter of 1997. Before coming to Rio, I was enjoying life on a small Caribbean island
in the Dutch Antilles called Curação, where Papiamento, Dutch and English are spoken. Curação is a beautiful small Caribbean island with white sandy beaches, crystal-clear blue ocean and a constant sea breeze to keep its inhabitants cool on hot summer days. In Curação, shops are still closed for 3 hours in the afternoon for siesta.

We had a short stint for half a year in Amsterdam, living half a block down the street from Anne Frank's house on Prince Canal. Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities (besides London). Of course, one may think that I am biased since my husband is Dutch, but I think most people would agree with me on this one. Before Amsterdam, I was actually living and working for an international law firm in Hanoi and Saigon. I thought that it would be good for me to get back to my roots and complete my journey; and it did as this was where I met my soul mate and husband Paul. Prior to returning to Vietnam, I was living and working in Hong Kong for the same law firm between 1993 and 1995, with a short break in 1994 to return to Seattle to finish up my last year in law school which  lasted from 1991-94. Before law school, I went through a management training program and worked for a bank in California after finishing my undergraduate degree at Oberlin College (1982-86). So, actually, I ended up staying in Oberlin after graduation much longer than most of my classmates from OHS.

That covers the last 20 years of my life in three paragraphs. In between moving from one continent to another, our travels brought us to all corners of the world in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America. I almost made it to the South pole this January, but we had to stop in Punta Arenas in Chile - the far most southern city in the world. As travel is a passion we both have, we will continue to explore the world and expand our horizon. Until then, we look forward to our next destination, whether to live there or to visit."

I hope that I will still be able to make it to the reunion in November.

With warmest regards,
Hanh N. Disch-Lê

With my husband Paul 
on San Rafael Lagoon in Chile

Updated 6 November 06
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