Rainbow’s Foster Grandparent Grandma Xuan is more than meets the eye. In her 65 years, she has seen, done, and been through a lot. Having been born in Vietnam in 1951, Grandma Xuan grew up during the withdrawal of French occupation of Vietnam, and lived through the beginnings of a Vietnamese Communist regime locked in conflict with America’s government over ideologies, and survived through the eventual and tumultuous fall of Vietnam and its devastating war.
Better days have been seen since then, and now, at the age of 64, Grandma has been coming into Rainbows’ Kids' Point daily through the Catholic Charities' Foster Grandparent Program to help in the Kindergarten classroom of 18, 5-year- olds for five years. She helps set-up art projects, clean-up after lunch, and always lends a heart of concern to every task.
In that time, Grandma Xuan has contributed in small but significant ways, gaining trust and love from both teachers and students. “Grandma Xuan is young at heart” said lead teacher Annabel Bentley; “when we went to the pumpkin patch in October Grandma rode the tricycles with the kids, they loved it!”
“Grandma is fun” said pre-k student Riley, “she helps me when we do projects and to fall asleep during naptime”. Another student, Jenna, is also particularly fond of Grandma. She seeks Grandma out throughout the day, pointing and gesturing to be near her.
Grandma Xuan first learned about the Foster Grandparents Program after a friend told her when she had just been laid off. She had been working at a sewing manufacturing place in Wichita for 4 years when she received the disappointing news in 2006. Shortly after, Grandma Xuan sought the Program Director of Foster Grandparents who first asked her how old she was. She was 56 at the time. That was not old enough for admission into the program, so Grandma waited until she was 60, and reapplied in 2010, she was accepted. Working at Rainbows is convenient for her because of its close location to her house. Factoring in her aging, and limited energy these days, she wanted an easy distance that would not be difficult to manage during the colder seasons.
A Catholic Charities Foster Grandparent
Not only that, Grandma Xuan likes being a Foster Grandparent, “I like to come in and see the kids, and how they have fun and play, it reminds me of my own Grandchildren back in Vietnam.” In Vietnam, Grandma Xuan has two sons, both have 2 children each. Her other two sons are here in Wichita. Grandma Xuan worked as a market woman in Vietnam, selling food and various items for money, it was not easy but it made ends meet. Coming to America was only possible due to her younger brother who was the first to travel by sea. His boat however, drifted towards Thailand and was pillaged by pirates. He made it though, and traveled to Indonesia to study, where he tested and passed into a company sponsorship program to America. Since he was the first of his family to come from Vietnam, he didn’t know anyone in America, and so they placed him in Wichita, Kansas where the company had job placements. He came over and worked for a number of years at an aircraft company, eventually sponsoring his own 6 brothers and sisters to America, Grandma Xuan being among them.
Grandma Xuan’s big family likes to have a big potlucks every two weeks or so, alternating homes, this coincides with taking care of their mother (who has reached 95 years old.) Grandma Xuan always looks forward to these gatherings, she enjoys seeing her brothers and sisters and their families.
Grandma Xuan lives with her husband and her two sons. After taking care of the cooking for all of them, Grandma Xuan relaxes at home by watching some TV, though she may not understand it, she is curious. Along with that, she listens to children’s songs at home, so that when she comes to Rainbows she may understand and follow the same songs the children at Rainbows listen to.
No doubt, Grandma Xuan wants to be a part of Rainbows, and be meaningful in her role, and she surely is. Thank you Grandma Xuan for being with us, and for all that you do for the children of Rainbows!