Humans of Lee

Humans of Lee

Photos: Jaclyn De Vries

Humans of Lee is an ongoing project where we meet Lee students and faculty in their favorite places and discover more about the unique people, cultures and experiences that make up our diverse campus.

This week we met Senior Lam Nigo (Victor), an international student from Hanoi, Vietnam, in the rec room of the Mayfield Annex. He casually played pool for the duration of our interview.

'Was coming to Lee your first time in America?'

'The first time I [was] here was in my senior year of high school [when I went to] a small private school in Concordia, Missouri.'

'What was the biggest difference when you came to America?'

'My first impression ' I was riding in a car and I saw a lot of land and it's really broad around, and [I] can see the sun and the sky. I was really amazed because I grew up in a city, so I'd never seen such an open view before.'

'How was it going from city life to Cleveland, such a small town?'

'It feels slow. Because here there's not much to do here on the weekend. I don't really enjoy it, but I guess it's better for studying that way.'

'Don't you have a bunch of siblings?'

'Yeah, I'm the oldest one. There [are] five little ones. I have four little sisters and one little brother.'

'What is it like being oldest of so many?'

'I feel a lot of responsibility. [Growing up] my parents really wanted me to be the model of the family and direct and guide [my siblings'] steps, so they were really strict on me. I had to be really self-disciplined.'

'How has that affected you here at Lee?'

'I think it's helped me in a way, because when I came here, I came here all by myself, and I'm the first one of my family [who has] ever traveled, ever went to college. It's a big deal for them, for me as well. That's a lot of pressure, but I keep telling myself they're going to look up to me one day, and they might look for my guidance and direction.'

'Do you ever get homesick?'

'A lot. I got most homesick during senior year in high school. It was a hard time because I didn't know much English to communicate with the local people, and there are things you usually do back home, but here you kind of miss out. Like, my family, we're kind of traditional, so we eat dinner a lot. I would go home at that certain time, 7 o'clock, and help serve the table, and then we ate together. You kind of form that habit, and then you come here and, 'Oh, 7 p.m.' So I felt off in the first months.'

'Have you done a similar thing with your friends, cooking and eating together?'

'I cook a lot, every week pretty much. We cook and we have dinner or lunch together.'

'What kind of things do you cook?'

'I cook a lot of stir fry food, I guess you can call it Asian style, but we don't have many of the spices we use in Asia, so I do American spices. It's kind of a melting pot cuisine; but we cook, and we eat, and it's fun.'

'For [my] culture, the New Year is a big thing. We have a different New Year event [than in America.]; we have Lunar New Year. During that time, we would have traditional food and time for family to gather together, and in the first 10 days of Lunar New Year you stay in your house mainly and don't go to your neighbor's house, or anybody else's house because, if you do that, you bring bad luck to them somehow. So that time is just family time for a week, just eating a lot of good food and spending time together. So when I came here, that's the thing I missed the most.'

'Has it helped being in Asian Council?'

'It feels really family-like because I will talk with them, something like, 'You like this type of food, that type of food,' and they know what I'm talking about. We flow that way; [we're] really close. A lot of times we cook food together, and we cook some similar dish because we have similar dishes between countries.'

If you or someone you know has an interesting story or unique perspective you'd like to see in Humans of Lee, contact Life Editor Emmalee Manes at

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