2016 marks the end of an era at the IRC in Seattle, as we bid farewell to Long Duc Nguyen, who is retiring after 21 years of service. More commonly known to colleagues and clients as “Mr. Long”, he is a recognizable face to hundreds of refugees in our community. As a caseworker, he has helped families from all over the world rebuild their lives in Seattle.
Mr. Long is himself a former refugee from Vietnam. While serving in the South Vietnamese Air Force in the 1970s, he was captured and became a prisoner of war for seven years. He was finally released in 1981 and after living three years in refugee camps, was resettled by the IRC in Seattle.
In many ways, Mr. Long embodies the spirit of the IRC’s mission – personally overcoming incredible obstacles to bring himself and his family from harm to home. Mr. Long was accompanied by his three young children when he moved to Seattle in 1985, but was not able to reunite with his wife until 1993. For years, he made a living as an apartment manager, where he opened his door to other newly-arrived refugees. Even before becoming a caseworker, Mr. Long went out of his way to make newcomer families feel welcome.
Mr. Long joined the IRC team officially in 1995. For two decades he’s been the happy face greeting newly-arriving refugees at SeaTac airport. For two decades he has brought families to their new apartments and taken them shopping for clothes and household goods. For two decades he has helped newcomers learn how to navigate their new community.
Mr. Long is someone who is eternally positive. He’s famous for his smile and jokes – as well as his delicious chả giò – and the light he brings to our office will surely be missed. We wish Mr. Long a much-deserved happy and healthy retirement!