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Chi Aga, a Boeing engineer who works on the Airplane High Lift systems,
holds a photo of her family in Vietnam when she was 13 years old. She is
in the back row on the far left. Chi left most of her family behind when
she fled Vietnam on an overcrowded boat.
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‘I will not let anyone hold me back’
By Karen McLean
SPEEA publications editor
EVERET T – SPEEA member Chi Aga nearly died at sea trying to get to the U. S. “In Vietnam, during the war, I had seen a lot
– the awfulness of it. I wanted to escape Vietnam
to pursue my career and to have the freedom to
do what I want.”
Chi, 56, who is today a Boeing engineer working
on Airplane High Lift systems, speaks quietly and
calmly about her journey from her home country
– where she and nearly 150 others were close to
death. The boat they departed in was built for 50.
Their food and water supply ran out in three days
because of the overcrowding and lack of supplies.
They were starving and dehydrated – using ponchos to collect rainwater. Their boat’s engines
stopped working and people stopped bailing the
water because they were so weak and thirsty.
After seven days at sea, they were rescued by
Filipino fishermen and later transported to Palawan,
Philippines where Chi stayed in a refugee camp for 12
months until she was allowed to leave for America.
“I learned how important it is to have freedom,”
Life in Vietnam
Chi grew up with 12 siblings and two adopted twin
sisters. Her mother ran a successful business and
her father worked for the South Vietnam government. Many of her older sisters went to college.
That changed when the Vietnam war ended and
the communist regime took over. Her father was
imprisoned. Because he was a political prisoner,
Diversity Committee member