(COLORADO SPRINGS) — May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and here in Southern Colorado, the Chung brothers are improving the lives of their patients every day.
They say it is because of their parents they were able to achieve their dreams and their careers in the medical field.
“So the mere fact that our parents left Vietnam as refugees, that was the ultimate sacrifice,” said Dr. Isaac Chung, Orthodontist for Apple Grove Dental and Orthodontics. “Where they gave up everything to risk, that they had no idea what the outcome was going to be, just to be able to provide us a life that was better than what they had going on back in Vietnam.”
Dr. Isaac Chung is able to work with his brother, Dr. Toan Chung, who both share a passion for dentistry.
“I love the artistry of dentistry the most,” said Dr. Toan Chung. “My most favorite part of dentistry is making people smile.”
There are eleven children in the Chung family who are spread from coast to coast. In the same office building as Apple Grove Dental and Orthodontics is Vanguard Skin Specialists, where their older brother, Dr. Vinh Chung, works across the hall his name is.
“It’s a blessing,” said Dr. Isaac. “It’s a blessing to be able to work with my brothers day to day. I would say, Dr. Toan and I run into each other because we share the same office in Apple Grove, but Dr. Vinh Chung, we’ll run into him occasionally, he’ll come and check on us.”
Dr. Vinh spoke about the determination he and his siblings hold in pursuing their dreams of helping others through careers in medicine.
“So medicine is an incredible career,” said Dr. Vinh. “It’s an incredible type of work where we can save lives, improve lives, and to restore health and so many people would love to be able to do that to better help another person. The biggest deterrent to having a career in medicine is a long training, and I think that turns off a lot of people. But for refugees and immigrants, we’re not deterred by that.”
In 1979, the Chung family fled Vietnam when Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Smith Arkansas sponsored their family. Dr. Vinh recalled first coming to America.
“So I was three and a half years old when my family came as refugees from Vietnam,” Dr. Vinh said. “I remember going to school not knowing English. I remember sitting around that story time where the teacher read a book to us and I have no idea what’s going on. So that was the beginning of my career, and in many ways that has allowed me to be able to serve my patients better because when I’m trying to communicate to them a complex medical condition, I at least know what it’s like not to know.”
Dr. Vinh wrote a book Where The Wind Leads which details the journey the Chung family endured from leaving Vietnam to beginning their new lives in America.
The Chung brothers reflected on the sacrifice their parents made in providing a better future for their children.
“I think that until we become parents ourselves, we will have no idea how much our parents have sacrificed for us,” said Dr. Vinh. “And to be able… to have the type of dream for my own children. Today, as I dream about their future, I’m able to better understand how my own parents had their dreams for us.”