In 1912, as a young man, former president of Vietnam Ho Chi Minh worked as the cook's helper on a ship bound for the U.S.
Ho Chi Minh was born Nguyen Sinh Cung on May 19, 1890, in Nghe An province in central Vietnam. Nghe An had been the center of resistance to the thousand-year Chinese control of Vietnam from 111 B.C.E. to 939 C.E. and the Ming Dynasty in the fifteenth century.
Many of the leaders of the opposition to French control in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries also came from the province. Ho's father, Nguyen Sinh Huy, educated himself to pass the civil service exam and worked for the government. He eventually resigned in protest against French involvement in Vietnamese affairs. When Ho was ten years old, his mother died while giving birth. He had two older siblings, a sister named Thanh and a brother named Khiem.
Ho's opposition to colonialism (the rule of an area and its people by another country) began at the age of nine when he worked as a messenger for an anticolonial organization. His father also introduced him to several revolutionaries. He went on to attend the National Academy in Hué, Vietnam. Dismissed from the academy after taking part in protests against the French in 1908, he traveled to southern Vietnam in 1909 and worked briefly as a schoolteacher.
He signed on as a cook with a French steamship company in 1911. At sea for two years, he visited ports in Europe, Africa, and the United States and began to develop his language skills, eventually learning Chinese, French, Russian, English, and Thai in addition to his native Vietnamese.