By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN They’re from the opposite side of the globe, but the Vu family of Vietnam was made to feel like part of the Hauer family in Winsted recently.
“The best thing about America is that the people here are very friendly,” said 17-year-old Chieu Vu, who has staying with Steve and Lisa Hauer since school started last fall.
Chieu’s parents, Van and Vu, along with Chieu’s 15-year-old brother, Cang, spent a few days with the Hauers in February. It was Van’s first visit to the US, but Vu has been in America numerous times.
“I did my college MBA here,” said Vu, who learned to speak English in high school.
“I started learning English in fourth grade,” Chieu said, explaining that classes were in Vietnamese in the morning, and in English in the afternoons.
Chieu said he decided to study abroad at Holy Trinity High School in Winsted because it’s near his uncle’s house in Rosemount.
“And he wanted a smaller school,” Steve said, noting that Winsted has “more green space” than Ho Chi Minh City.
Chieu’s initial impressions of Winsted was that the air is much cleaner, and the city is much quieter.
“It took time to get used to it,” he said.
Having more siblings is another change, as the Hauer family includes Nick (13), Jacob (12), and Claire (4). Claire affectionately calls Chieu “Chewbacca” from “Star Wars.”
“It’s a three-ring circus here. They keep each other going,” Steve said, adding that they often laugh so hard they cry.
All the kids participate in bowling league at the Hollywood Sports Complex, and even though Chieu is new to bowling, he was able to get a score of 131.
Food is also something that brings the family together, and Chieu has grown fond of hamburgers and pizza. When Chieu’s family came to visit, his mother made some of the dishes their family typically eats.
“This morning, she made us chicken and noodles,” Jacob said. “It was very, very spicy. It smelled amazing, but if you’ve ever had devil’s hot sauce, that’s how spicy it was.”
Vietnamese food is not generally spicy, but Chieu’s dad said their family’s cooking has Indian influences.
Chieu’s dad is a chemical engineer, and his mom helps manage the family’s shoe store. The store was founded by Chieu’s grandfather, and is now a shared venture with his uncles.
As for Chieu’s future plans, he hopes to come back to Winsted in the fall of 2017 for his senior year of high school, and then go to college to study information technology.