This post is the only one in the series without a YouTube video. In fact, here is the only online link to the recording that I could find, and the upload is hardly perfect. It’s true that I’d like to throw in one or two obscure songs in a list of mostly well-known tunes. Even there I was quite surprised at the Internet neglect of this song.
December 1, 2016: The link above still works, but I’ve just uploaded the song on YouTube and it has better audio quality.
On New Year’s Eve, I finished reading a terrific dissertation about Vietnamese in the former Czechoslovakia. The author is Alena Alamgir (Rutgers 2014), and her work is about a bilateral labor program between the DRV and Czechoslovakia from 1967 to 1989 that sent Vietnamese from the European country for training and work in a variety of industries. The field is historical sociology – it won the Theda Skocpol Award from the American Sociological Association last year – and the dissertation utilizes a good deal of documents from the National Czech Archives, including materials from three governmental agencies in the Cold War era.
Grading and other obligations kept me from watching this documentary when it was first shown on PBS last week. But I read the written narrative on the ProPublica website (which isn’t a transcript of the documentary but shares the same materials), and finally watched the documentary online last night. Here are some thoughts after watching it.
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.
Yesterday began with an email looking for an eleventh-hour replacement. Four hours later, I was in downtown Los Angeles as moderator of a luncheon panel on Vietnam at the Pacific Council on International Policy.
The luncheon was the first in a new series of talks at the Pacific Council, and the speakers were Murray Hiebert and Tuong Vu. They provided an overview on Vietnam today – economy, government, education, relations with China and the U.S., etc. They also responded to a variety of questions from the audience of about twenty-five people in law, business, government, and higher education.
Bài lời Việt theo sau bài tiếng Anh. Hai bài hao hao nội dung nhưng không giống hẳn. The Vietnamese portion follows the English. I cater each language to different readers and they aren’t entirely the same.
April 30 was of course the climax of the fortieth anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of mass Vietnamese migration to the U.S. But there’s still a lot of the anniversary year left.
Tomorrow is the first day of classes at my institution, and I will continue to honor this anniversary by posting about Vietnamese music related to war and refugees throughout the fall semester and into the spring semester.
What did the first waves of Vietnamese refugees in America think about themselves? What was their mindset regarding their place in the world? Is it possible to write a coherent literary history of their experience?
The search for answers can take different directions and have different starting points. In my opinion, it isn’t a bad idea to begin with a collection of poetry, essays, memoirs, and fiction entitled Tuyển Tập Thơ Văn 90 Tác Giả Việt Nam Hải Ngoại 1975-1981: Selected Poetry and Prose from Ninety Vietnamese Writers Abroad, 1975-1981 (Missouri City, TX: Văn Hữu, 1982).KEEP READING!
Posted on FB on April 26, 2015
The Cornell Vietnam Speakers Series asked last week, “What is on your mind about the Vietnam War as we approach the 40th anniversary of its conclusion?” Here are the things that I jotted down between grading and seeing students as the semester wound down.
You must be logged in to post a comment.