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tuannyriver

website & blog of Tuan Hoang, Pepperdine University

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October 2015

Pope and refugees in Thailand, 1984

On the second day of his visit to the U.S., Pope Francis stopped his motorcade and picked up a five-year-old Mexican American girl who tried to give him a letter and T-shirt.  Seeing it in evening news reminded me of another pontiff that visited a refugee camp and picked up a little girl from the ground.  It was John Paul II at the Phanat Nikhom Refugee Camp during his papal visit to Thailand in May 1984.

At the time, Phanat Nikhom held thousands of refugees from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.  Among the Vietnamese were “boat people” as well as “land refugees,” that is, they left over land rather than sea.  International and media focus on post-1975 Vietnamese refugees was typically on the “boat people.”  But there were many that left by other means, including crossing through the land mass of southern Vietnam and Cambodia to reach the borders of Thailand.

01 Jan 1985, Aranya Prathet, Thailand --- Cambodian refugees at the Red Hill refugee camp, near the Thai-Cambodian Border. 60,000 people fled to the south as fighting increased between Khmer-Vietnamese troops and the FNLPK (Khmer People's National Liberation Front), one of the three groups making up the anti-communist resistance. --- Image by © Alain Nogues/CORBIS SYGMA
01 Jan 1985, Aranya Prathet, Thailand — Cambodian refugees at the Red Hill refugee camp, near the Thai-Cambodian Border. 60,000 people fled to the south as fighting increased between Khmer-Vietnamese troops and the FNLPK (Khmer People’s National Liberation Front), one of the three groups making up the anti-communist resistance. — Image by © Alain Nogues/CORBIS SYGMA

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Who are Ben Carson and Bernie Sanders?

sanders-carson
Source: ivn.us

There are fifteen weeks of classes at Pepperdine this semester, and today is the exact mid-point.  There have been some lovely moments and experiences in my Great Books and American history classes. The following was the loveliest of all.

My history survey course includes weekly quizzes, and two weeks ago the quiz was about nineteenth-century immigration.  There were questions about German and Irish immigrants, and I also threw in the following extra-credit bit about Scandinavians.

Imagine that Ben Carson and Bernie Sanders were running for the White House in the 19th century. Which one would most Norwegian immigrants have voted for? Why?

Upon reaching the EC, one of the students looked up and asked aloud in complete innocence, “Who are Ben Carson and Bernie Sanders?”

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Song of war #6 – Tình Thiên Thu (Eternal Love)

Of the ten songs on this list, this is the only one that tells a story.  It is based on a true story, now told in slightly different versions, about two young lovers in South Vietnam:  Phạm Thái and Nguyễn Thị Mộng Thường.  Because of its personal nature and the artistry of the lyrics and melody, this ballad has been very popular among Vietnamese. One should always be cautious with comparisons, but I am inclined to think of it as the Vietnamese equivalent of  “Where Do I Begin,” the theme song of the movie Love Story that came out two or three years earlier.

Tinh Thien thu cua Nguyen Thi Mong Thuong (Tran Thien Thanh) outside 1
Source: amnhacmiennam.blogspot.com

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Song of war #7 – Đó! Quê Hương Tôi! (There, My Country!)

Of the eight or nine composers in this compilation of mine – I’m still debating between two songs by two different authors – Vĩnh Điện is by far the least known.  An officer in the South Vietnamese military, he was, I believe, many years younger than the other songwriters on my list. [Correction: He was in fact older than Trần Thiện Thanh – see comment below from Jason Gibbs.]  His output in the Republican South was modest, as fewer than ten songs were recorded before 1975.  My favorite is Vết Thương Sỏi Đá, “The Heavy Wound,” which has to do with the pain of romantic love than suffering from warfare.  Check it out, below or from the website that bears its author’s name.

Imprisoned in reeducation camps for many years after the war, Vĩnh Điện came to the U.S. late in life and, out of his searing experience of prison, brought out a lot of new music. Some of these songs were composed in captivity: as the case with poets and songwriters in the same situation, he kept them in his head.  Other songs were written in America. They have been recorded in a dozen of CDs, and you can read about them in this write-up of more than 150 pages!

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Song of war #8: Đưa Em Về Quê Hương (Take You To the Country)

I set out a few basic criteria in the making of this compilation.  One is no more than two songs from the same composer.  One is to seek a wide variety on style and content.  A third is to limit selections to the period of the Second Indochina War.  There were many songs written during or shortly after the French War, and I hope to address the connection between the two periods at some point.  But ten isn’t a large number by any means, and leaving out music from the First Indochina War hopefully helps to tighten the coherence of the list.

Another criterion is that the selections come from musicians associated in a significant way to the Republican Saigon, thus leaving out music from North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front (NLF).  Communist music is worthy of studies for its propaganda value, yes, but possibly more.  But it is not included on this list because it diverges too far from music of the Republican South.

image004
Source: luanhoan.net

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