Mansfield Lake Ridge High School's Eagle Media Website

Eagle Media

Mansfield Lake Ridge High School's Eagle Media Website

Eagle Media

Mansfield Lake Ridge High School's Eagle Media Website

Eagle Media

Xuan Le Embracing His American Life

Courtesy of Valeria Ramirez.

Custodian Xuan Le was born in Vietnam and immigrated to America in 2002. Before he became a custodian at Lake Ridge, he used to be a teacher and a lawyer. He taught at a school in Vietnam for 10 years before he became a lawyer. Le studied and got his bachelor’s degree in law and education, was a lawyer for 5 years, and then he became the Chief Inspector of the City Education, working a total of 19 years. 

“Long time teacher and lawyer. In Vietnam [a] long time I [was] chief inspector for Education. Ten years teacher, then lawyer. I worked nineteen years,” said Le in a translated interview.

Le has worked as an employee in MISD for 11 years. As a custodian, Le has to clean restrooms, hallways, classrooms and other places around the school. There have been times where he has had to travel to other schools in the Mansfield district to work. 

“I have worked here eleven years, Lake Ridge only, no more. Sometimes supervisor, he needs me go to help other schools. Middle school, elementary school. Maybe someone on vacation, I go help other school. They tell me to be work leader, but I say no, no work leader, because me not know much English. Lilly our work leader, she work here months, I work here eleven years,” Le said.

He works hard to earn a living as a custodian, especially due to the language barrier. Le’s main dedication to working is not only to earn money, but his family. 

“I can sell my labor cheaply to make money to pay my wife’s bills. But I never sell my personality cheaply,” Le said.

Le’s first language is Vietnamese, so when he immigrated to America he didn’t know any English. He is still grateful for being able to work as a custodian even with his lack of knowledge of the English language. Le wishes that he could attend college to learn English better. There has been times where Le felt disrespected because of his broken English and his job.

“Our Principal woman, she ask me ‘you work here, why?’ I say because I need money. I need money to pay my house, bill, my car. I need money so me work here. Many people don’t know about me, they surprised I speak English little bit, only little. I do not know much English,” said Le.

Le continues in his teaching career as a teacher for Sunday school at ‘Psalms Vietnamese Alliance Church’ in Arlington. 

“I  teaching Sunday school. Norma, old custodian she get blood cancer, she say ‘please Le, pray for me’. And I do, I pray for her, she  tells me three months later she get better. Me teaching Sunday school, reminds me of Vietnam,” Le said.

Le has undergone many changes in his life, from immigrating to a new country and starting a family here, to keeping a stable job despite the language barrier. Although his current career is not indicative of his intensive education, Le has made the best of his job and life here, and continues to make the school a better place every day.

About the Contributor
Valeria Ramirez
Valeria Ramirez, ENN Staff