Second Wave | KUOW News and Information

Second Wave

My family fled Vietnam, now I might go back

Nov 28, 2017
Courtesy of Thanh Tan

What would it take to pack up your life and move to a new country? It’s a question Thanh Tan’s parents didn’t have the luxury of asking when they fled Vietnam to America 40 years ago. 

Kristie Nguyen and Thanh Tan visit a family memorial in Vietnam.
KUOW Photo/Caroline Chamberlain

I was 6 or 7 years old. And I didn’t want to go to swimming lessons at the YMCA.

Like, I really didn’t want to go.

Thanh Tan stands with her father, Duc Tan, as they look at the South Vietnamese flag, at Hung Vuong Vietnamese Language School inside the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd on Friday, September 29, 2017, in Olympia.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

I grew up in the United States. Like any all-American kid, I said the Pledge of Allegiance, celebrated the Fourth of July and saluted the American flag.  

But that wasn't the only flag in my life. There was also the yellow flag with three red stripes — the flag of South Vietnam, a country that no longer exists.

An assortment of different pho dishes are shown on Tuesday, August 15, 2017, at Pho Bac on S. Jackson St., in Seattle. "Pho is how you make it, you can add or subtract anything you want," said Yenvy Pham, owner of Pho Bac.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Mmmm, pho.

That savory, soul-warming and, some say, healing noodle soup brought into the world and perfected by the Vietnamese people.


Oct 17, 2017
Pho with cilantro, onion, green onion, prawns, noodles, fried shallots and beef broth is shown on Tuesday, August 15, 2017, at Pho Bac on S. Jackson St., in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

When Thanh Tan was growing up, pho wasn’t cool. Now, it’s an “it” dish and taking on a life of its own as more Americans eat and serve it.

The Beauty Pageant

Oct 3, 2017
Courtesy of Hoa Khôi Liên Trường (

What makes the “ideal” Vietnamese-American woman? In the latest episode of our new podcast Second Wave, Thanh Tan finds herself confronting that question after she is invited to judge a local Vietnamese beauty pageant. 

Good guys, bad guys

Sep 19, 2017
Marines marching in Danang. March 15, 1965.
Courtesy of Associated Press

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick join Thanh Tan, host of our new podcast Second Wave, to discuss the new documentary, "The Vietnam War."

Viet kieu

Sep 5, 2017
Thanh's father, Duc Tan, holds the American flag and stands next to Dr. Dung Nguyen, president of the Vietnamese Community of Pierce County, at a political rally in this undated photo. Like most other refugees, they still prefer to recognize the flag of t
Courtesy of Thanh Tan

Ever realize there is more to your family's past than you've been told? Welcome to Second Wave, an American story that begins in Vietnam. 

Courtesy of Thanh Tan

The courtroom feels soulless. I remember unflattering fluorescent lights. The room is small enough that everyone can see each other. You can't hide.


Sep 1, 2017

Hear what's in store for season one of Second Wave, an American story that begins in Vietnam. The new podcast from KUOW and PRX debuts September 5, 2017.