To understand the true mission of Frisco Smiles Dentistry, you should know a little about my background. I’m Thanh Hong, and while I have spent most of my life in Texas, I grew up in Vietnam.
Although my family survived the Vietnam War, a decade later my country was still feeling the effects and life was brutal. I was the youngest of my siblings, and a few years before my leaving Vietnam, an older sister fled and safely resettled in Texas.
Although I didn’t know much about the U.S. (except for houses with green, grassy yards), I was very close with my sister so when they told me we were going to pay someone to smuggle us out of Vietnam and reunite with my sister, I didn’t think twice.
The Long Journey
The journey was long and terrifying for me, my 18-year old brother, 25-year old sister, and her 6-year old daughter. After bus and boat rides, we finally crossed into Cambodia where we stayed at a stranger’s house for two weeks before the “guide” we had paid left for supplies and never returned.
My older sister was determined to get us to our destination, so she sold gold from a necklace to get help from people we met along the way.
We Kept Walking
We were told to walk toward the setting sun, so for four days, we kept walking. At about the same time, we realized we were lost and ran into a group of friendly Khmer Rouge rebels who led us to a group of other militants that were better equipped to care for my family and me.
The three-month journey led us to our destination, a refugee camp in Thailand, where we lived together in a straw hut for two and a half years.
After making our way through mountains of red tape, we were finally able to go to the Philippines for eight months of assimilation before arriving in Irving, Texas in 1989.
In August of ’89, I began eighth grade and had a pretty tough time. Most of my classmates picked on me due to my English, and I felt lost, thankfully growing up bilingual (speaking Vietnamese and Cambodian) allowed me to learn the language quickly.
Education is something that was always highly valued in my family and my family taught me to be confident, which is something I attribute my academic success too.
Applying to College
Pursuing a career in healthcare came naturally to me. My sister had wanted to be a doctor, and I always loved math and science.
When applying to colleges, I had the chance to study at UT-Austin, but ultimately wanted to be closer to my family, so I chose UT-Arlington where I graduated with a B.S. in Biology in 1998.
After a few years of working unsatisfying jobs, I applied to dental school, and in 2003 I made my way to Boston University. A decade later I made my way back to Texas with my dental license, a husband, and two little boys.
I Finally Made It
30 years after I began my journey to Texas, I officially opened my dental practice. Many Vietnamese weren’t as fortunate as my family or me to make the journey and start a new life, so I’m eternally grateful for the chance to share their stories and will continue to use my own experiences to help others.
I pride myself in staying current with the latest dental practices and procedures so that members of all communities can create the lasting impressions they desire and go through life with a happy and healthy smile.
I look forward to sharing more resources on my blog each month and would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or get in touch with my office at 469-294-4239.