ALAMEDA -- College of Alameda dance instructor Danny Nguyen regularly returns to his native Vietnam. But when he visits next month, Nguyen will encounter a country battered by super Typhoon Haiyan, which has left thousands dead as it swept across the Pacific.
While the Philippines was the hardest hit by the typhoon, at least 14 people were killed and dozens of others were left homeless in Vietnam, according to relief agencies.
"I want to help the people in Vietnam," Nguyen said Monday during a break from teaching class. "Everyone knows that the people of the Philippines need help," he said. "I just don't want the people of Vietnam to be forgotten."
Among the areas that Nguyen will visit are villages in Da Nang and Hoi An, which he said were ravaged by the typhoon.
Nguyen said he hopes to provide the residents with Spam, chocolate and other food. He will be traveling from the Bay Area with two friends.
So far, they have collected six boxes of material that they will carry with their luggage, Nguyen said.
"When I get there, I will buy rice and ramen," he said. "As long as people have noodles, they will be OK. They can use it as a base for building a meal."
Nguyen's ticket to Vietnam was already booked when super Typhoon Haiyan struck earlier this month and left approximately 4,000 people dead in the Philippines alone. He was also already planning to donate food and other items at isolated villages where poverty is widespread.
Donating food is something that he does during each of his visits, said Nguyen, who arrived in the United States in 1983 after 32 attempts to leave his native country.
On two occasions, Nguyen said, he was briefly jailed.
"I made a promise to myself that if I ever made it and got a full-time job, that I would give between 10 (percent) and 15 percent of my salary to the people of Vietnam," he said. "And so that's what I do."
His parents and six siblings also now live in the Bay Area.
Nguyen said he relies on local church leaders for information on where help is most needed, something that he plans on doing again during next month's trip.
The 49-year-old Nguyen has taught choreography, ballet, ballroom and other dancing styles at the Peralta Community College District since 1999.
He also leads the Nguyen Dance Company, a multicultural performance troupe that features dancers, musicians and visual artists who mix contemporary and traditional Vietnamese dance.
"Somehow, I find that dancing is the way I can express my feelings," Nguyen said. "It's my passion. Teaching allows met to give that passion back to the community. I tell my students that everyone is equal here, and that without them, I would not even be here."
Contact Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him at Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty.
For information on helping Danny Nguyen on his upcoming trip to Vietnam regarding typhoon relief efforts, contact him at www.dannydancers.com.