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Lihn Heintz

Linh Heintz finds success in YVC’s ELA program

Linh Heintz was excited when she learned that she had family on the other side of the world. Heintz, who was born in a small town in the south of Vietnam, had lived her entire life not knowing who her father was. Like many children born overseas to Vietnamese mothers and U.S. service members during the Vietnam War — often referred to as Amerasians — Heintz faced severe discrimination.

“Growing up as a half American was really tough, especially when the war was over,” stated Heintz. “I was bullied and assaulted by other kids at school because they hated me for having an American dad.”

After spending nearly 20 years trying to locate her father, Heintz decided to take a DNA test in 2012. When no new information came to light, she lost hope of ever knowing who her birth father was. That all changed in 2017 when she received a call from the person who helped get her DNA tested. Her father had been located.

After connecting with her father’s family, Heintz, her husband and daughter began the process of immigrating to the U.S. The couple had been trying to relocate since 1991, but past requests had been denied. With the support of her new family, they finally were granted approval to immigrate to the U.S. and moved to Yakima, Wash., to live with her father.

When the family first moved, Heintz spoke no English and relied completely on her daughter to communicate with other family members. After a Vietnamese friend suggested Yakima Valley College’s English Language Acquisition (ELA) program, Heintz reached out to get started.

“When I went to YVC to sign up and take the placement test, everyone there were so nice and helpful,” Heintz said. After three quarters in the program, her decision has paid significant dividends in helping open doors for her and her family.

Heintz describes herself as a shy person and she initially felt anxiety about attending class because of her limited ability to speak and understand English.

“It took me the first couple weeks to get to know everyone [in class] and adapt. But after overcoming these barriers the classes became so fun and interesting,” she said. “The teacher is so nice and patient towards the students and everyone in class is so friendly. I look forward to class every day now.”

As Heintz learns more English, she looks forward to getting more involved in the community.

“Learning English is the first step that I need. I have never imagined going back to school at this age but this program helped me so much in bettering my English,” she concluded.

Three years ago, Heintz’s family was featured in the Dateline story, “Father’s Day,” which includes interviews and chronicles their journey.