Camas High School Senior Kiet Pham is an exchange student from Trà Vinh City, Vietnam. Despite travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pham was able to come to the United States through the OCEAN Exchange organization.
Pham said, “I want to learn in the United States to improve my English skills and my self-development. I want to know more about United States culture.”
Back home, Pham lives with his parents and younger sister. He communicates with them two to three times per week. Here in the United States, his host parents do not have any children so he is an only child.
Even though one of Pham’s main goals of this experience is to better his English, he has been able to speak Vietnamese with his host mother’s parents who are fluent.
Despite pandemic shutdowns, Pham and his host family have still found fun things to do together. One thing that they enjoy doing is cooking. His family teaches him how to cook American food and he teaches them how to cook Vietnamese food.
He has cooked a traditional Vietnamese meal for his host family that consists of fried corn and shrimp.
Pham has been able to try the American version of the meal most associated with Vietnamese cuisine, pho.
“It tastes very good and it is similar to how it is in Vietnam,” he said.
When the weather is nice, Pham and his host family enjoy exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest. They recently took a day trip to Mt. Hood and Pham saw snow for the first time in his life, which is an experience he will never forget.
He said, “We went around the mountain, saw nature, and watched people ski.”
For Pham’s senior project he is taking pictures of nature and making videos. In addition to the mountain, he has explored the coast, Lacamas Lake, and local rivers.
In Vietnam, he was attending school in-person, so when he came to the United States he had to transition to remote learning. He has enjoyed his learning experience so far at CHS though.
“I like studying remote because I can watch the videos again,” Pham said.
Being able to rewatch video lessons multiple times has proved extremely useful for him because sometimes he will not fully understand what is being said the first time.
He said that his English has improved a lot since coming here. In addition to all the practice he gets through school, his host mother has been working with him on his pronunciation of words.
His favorite class at CHS is painting. He said in Vietnam that painting class was not as enjoyable as it is here.
Pham is looking forward to the possibility of transitioning to a hybrid model so he can practice his English face to face with teachers and students.