Dr. Tran Minh Tung, former minister of health and now a psychiatrist in Fairfax County:
''Many (refugees) lost relatives on the voyage here. They have seen death. They built up hopes for what they will have here. Their relatives who came here first always beautified their experiences. Now they think, 'If I get out of this hell (Vietnam), everything will be all right . . . It should be a promised land.' From there comes a bitter disappointment.
''We cling to what existed in Vietnam. We're like the White Russians after they left the Bolsheviks. They idealize memories of Vietnam . . . They still think of the U.S.A. as a temporary refuge. Out of 100 Vietnamese, one or two would express joy at the idea of becoming citizens. Most Vietnamese are apologetic to others who ask them why they got citizenship. They're uncomfortable or ashamed. They're seen as selling out.
''We have not chosen (to become Americans). We chose to flee . . . It makes assimilation slower and less complete.
Nguyen Huu Hien, owner of two used car lots in Orange County, Calif.:
''I was a success over there, a big man. I was a building contractor for the (U.S.) Navy. If I'd stayed, I'd be a millionaire.
''When I came here (first to Seattle), I didn't know what to do myself. I worked taking out lumber from a construction site for $2.50 an hour. I looked up at the sky and said, 'God, you dropped me too far.' Two months after leaving the top, I was a washout. I was 40. I decided then I had to find out again what I could do for myself, and for this country. I was starting all over again. I've worked two different lives.
''I worked at (a manufacturing plant) for six months. I got raises, 25 cents each time. I'll do every job, dirty jobs. My bosses were always happy with me. I always tried my best. Sometimes I worked until midnight, or 3 or 4 in the morning. But I saw no future there.
''Here, everything is complicated and technical, and I knew I couldn't do contracting again. I knew if I shot too high, I would fail. Bu everyone needs a car.
''I am learning the American way. Nobody's taught me. I want to work, to make a success.
Bui Huu Thu, former Navy captain and now assistant principal at J.E.B. Stuart High School in Fairfax County:
''The parents can go to psychiatrists, social workers or priests, but still they come to me. They think I have all the solutions . . . that I know about life in this country.
''My heart has ben pulled apart by all this. I understand the kids, the pressures on them. But I also want to protect the Vietnamese culture. I'm a parent. I want to take their side . . . But the parents have got to be more open-minded and let go. They can't hang on to (their children) forever. There's a huge generation and cultural gap. The parents are still living in the 19th century.
''I've been helping one family with real problems. Two young sisters came over in 1975 with their aunt, and they've been living with her. Just a year ago, the parents came here. The girls are teen-agers now, they enjoy the punk styles. They have no recollection what life is like over there. They aren't used at all to the parents' Vietnamese way: no meeting boys, taling to boys, no leaving the house after dark . . . Of course the girls took off (from home). They couldn't stand it.
''Another boy, his mother called me. Her husband died, and she's raising two teen-aged sons alone. She had nowhere to turn. The one boy grew his hair, started wearing punk clothes and his grades came down. His mother cut his hair off, and then she used a scissors to cut up his big, long punk overcoat in the closet.
''Most of us (older-generation Vietnamese) feel our lives are gone. Parents are working two or three jobs to put the kids through school. What we do is just for the kids. Jus forget about us.''
Dai Trang (Elizabeth) Le ranks first in the senior class at George C. Marshall High School in Fairfax County and will attend Brown University next fall. Her father, a former air force official, is still in Vietnam and was recently released after nine years in a ''reeducation camp:''
''Working hard is part of what my mom and dad wanted me to do. Some of it comes from my mother being a teacher. There's always the pride, something with the Vietnamese. They're afraid to fail. She has this thing about grades. They have to be A's . . . She wants to have a better life than she does.
''It's one of the differences between Vietnamese and American kids. I don't think the discipline is there for American kids. The drinking and drugs. I think they should be more responsible.
''I've written to my father only three times in 10 years. I don't know how to write him. If I wrote to him now, it would be so choppy. I don't think he really knows what I do over here. I hope when he gets here we'll be able to talk about sports. He liked sports. But he doesn't know anything about football or basketball, which I like. He liked soccer, which I hate.''