NEWCOMB - Charles Minke of Newcomb served in the Navy for roughly 20 years and did four tours in Vietnam as an intelligence photographer. Over three decades later, Minke has come full circle and, this year, he and his wife Lorinda welcomed an international students from Hanoi, Vietnam into their home.
Anh Pham, is attending Newcomb Central School as a senior as part of their international student program, now in its fourth year.
"Everything is different," said Pham. "Education, government, business - everything."
This is her first time in the United States and is experiencing a new education system as well as a drastically different culture.
"Education in Vietnam is all about memorization," she said. "Here it is nothing like that." After being raised in a city with a population of about 7 million people, living in Newcomb with a population less than 1,000 has been a shock to Pham.
"Everything about the size is different," she said. "But, my school and my home life are good here."
Pham hopes to remain in the U.S. to continue her education at Adelphi University on Long Island to study business.
"We don't have classes like government and business in Vietnam," she said. "That is why I want to stay here to study."
Pham is the third student that the Minkes have hosted, but the first on a full-time basis.
"We enjoyed it very much the last two times," said Lorinda. "And since there was a shortage in volunteers this year, we decided to do it again."
Pham is the first student from Vietnam to be hosted in Newcomb. Because of his service experience, Charles requested she be placed in his home.
"I have a natural curiosity about the country," he said. "I want to learn what is going on there and this is a perfect opportunity to do that from another source than media and politicians."
As Vietnam industrializes and the trade market from China filters into the country, Charles acknowledges the changes that have taken place.
"The very fact that Anh was allowed to leave the country shows how far they have come," he said.
Not only is Charles learning from his Vietnamese daughter, she is also understanding parts of her country's history from another source than a textbook.
"It is hard for me to understand what it was like," she said. "I have read about it in books, but it was a long time ago. My father was still an infant during the war."
Charles also learned of the reputation that America left in Vietnam in the wake of the war.
"It is interesting that young people in Vietnam hold more animosity towards the French Indochina War than they do towards the Vietnam War, which happened earlier," he said.
The Minke family has accepted Pham into their family and spoke about their interest in visiting her when she returns to Vietnam.
"I would love to go back," said Charles. "And now I have a reason to. Her family must be a fine one to have raised her and I would really like to meet them."