From Vietnam To Wichita, In Search Of Freedom

May 30, 2013

Christine Cao moved to Wichita when she was 16. Now, 22 years later, she is the owner of Perfect Nails.
Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW

According to the 2010 US Census, more than 1.5 million immigrants from Vietnam live in the U.S. The Vietnamese population in Kansas has increased by 21 percent in the last decade. And more than 9,000 Vietnamese Americans live in Sedgwick County.

Vietnamese business owner Christine Cao moved to Wichita 22 years ago when she was 16. She graduated from Wichita's North High School and in 2005 she earned her bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University in public health in organization and public policy.

After getting married and having two children, Cao switched careers and opened Perfect Nails in Wichita, which she has owned for seven years. All five of the employees are members of her family. Cao says life was much different growing up in Vietnam.

“I live in Vietnam for 16 years," she says. "When I look back I don't know how I survived, so that's why we come here, for freedom.”

Cao talks with KMUW’s Carla Eckels about life before and after coming to America.