Adam Pham was born in 1966 in Hanoi, Vietnam, a child of war in a Communist country. His maternal grandfather, who was Polish-French, had to leave Vietnam, to return to France. With the Communist victory in Vietnam, Adam’s paternal grandfather was imprisoned as an “Enemy of the State”, and Adam’s family lost everything, making life a daily struggle. Not only was it hard to find basic necessities, but Adam’s family also had to avoid the punishments of a repressive regime.
Adam knew that education would be a path from poverty to freedom. He studied hard, was accepted to the prestigious Hanoi State University, and earned a full scholarship to study abroad – but only at a Soviet University.
Adam arrived in Kiev in 1986 (right after the Chernobyl disaster) and attended Kiev State University. Adam always feels great affection towards this beautiful nation. During five years in Ukraine, he discovered the beauty of Ukrainian culture, graduated as one of the top students of his University, got married to his university sweetheart Lan, and had a daughter. At this time, all Vietnamese international students in the USSR were forbidden from having children by the Vietnamese government. Anyone that did not follow this rule was deported back to Vietnam. Adam’s first daughter, was raised in secret from the Vietnamese Embassy in Moscow. From this experience, Adam learned a life lesson about human rights in a dictatorship: socialism may promise everything but could also take everything away from you – including your freedom and your family.
Adam’s time in Ukraine was momentous, with the fall of the Soviet Union and the independence of Ukraine. Adam participated in protests in 1991 for Ukrainian independence. As a student at the historic Kiev State University main building, Adam went to Khreschatyk St, Kiev, with...