The following is a letter written on September 4th, 1995 by Phạm Việt Mạnh to various organizations detailing the unjust treatment of the refugees at the Sungei Besi Refugee Camp in Malaysia by the local police force.
"I marched for myself, whose right to what I do with my body is in danger.
I marched for my friends, whose right to love who they want is in danger.
I marched for my family, whose right to be considered an American is in danger."
The other day, my mom shared with me a story about a woman she had just met at the hospital where she was visiting a friend. This woman had recently had surgery, and was roommates with my mom's friend, both of whom are Vietnamese Boat People. I don't know where this woman is now, but her story made an indelible mark on my mother, and on me as well.
PYD is currently collaborating with Boat People SOS (BPSOS) Youth Coordinator, Trung Nguyen, and Vietnamese Studies Students at Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute of University of Wisconsin-Madison (SEASII) on a summer project to go through a large archive of letters written between the late 1970s and the mid-1990s by Vietnamese Boat Refugees seeking asylum and/or family unification after the Vietnam War.
April 30 is a day of mixed emotions for Vietnamese people and veterans of the Vietnam War. It is the day of the reunification of Vietnam but it is also the day the Americans and the South Vietnamese lost the war/their country, respectively. Sometimes it is called Black April because the lead-up to the end lasted throughout the month of April.
Last Days in Vietnam, an Academy Award-winning documentary by Rory Kennedy, depicts the events throughout that last stand of April 1975. The story is told from the point of views of various American naval and military men and South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians. Starting with a brief synopsis of the situation in January 1973, the documentary then fast-forwards to April 1975 and the surrender of Saigon to North Vietnamese troops.
The Mid-Atlantic Union of Vietnamese Student Associations (MAUVSA) Conference is an annual event over a spring weekend where VSAs from universities all over the United States can come to network with one another and prepare for their future careers. This conference was also one of PYD's first networking experiences!
When I was taking a break from writing my papers, I browsed on Netflix for a new show to watch. I saw the icon for Master of None with an image of Aziz Ansari on it and I immediately just had to see what this new show was all about. As young people of color and women, we really resonated with a lot of the very relevant issues the show touched upon, racism, sexism, prejudice, stereotyping, the generation gap, and the immigrant experience. Growing up, there was a disconnect between my parents and I. Both my brother and I never heard our parents talk about their boat experiences and so we never thought it was something important. Most of all, it never occurred to us to ask our parents about it.
Very much like how it seems strange to say that Chinese and Korean culture are the same, to say that Vietnamese, Laotian, Hmong, Mien, Thai, Indonesian, Cambodian, Malaysian, etc., culture is all the same falls into that same category of strange (and extremely misguided). One of the biggest things we share however, is the lack of coverage of our stories, our histories, our voices. So when we came across Hmongstory 40, we knew we had to feature it as a Community Spotlight.