Refugees in the U.S.: The National Dialogue Continues – Refugee Thanksgiving


Sister Elizabeth Lang came to the U.S. from Vietnam as a student to attend Siena

Heights University in Michigan. She had plans of returning to Vietnam upon

completion of her four-year stint there, but as Lang says, “God had a different plan”

when the fall of Vietnam happened in 1975. Lang said she became a refugee living in

the U.S. when this happened—she couldn’t return to Vietnam because it was “not


That’s when Lang moved to the West Coast, initially with the goal of being here for

just 6 months, and started working with refugees as a translator. She saw it as a way

of putting her fluency in Vietnamese to good use given the influx of refugees to the

U.S. that followed.

Since then, Lang dedicated her life to serving refugees in the East Bay and now

serves as the director of refugee services at Catholic Charities of the East Bay, the

largest provider of social services throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

The organization provides refugees with critical services as they start life afresh in

the U.S.

This year, Lang organized a Thanksgiving potluck that brought together over 100

immigrants in the East Bay.