- THE VIETNAM CENTER AND ARCHIVE
- Texas Tech University
On June 14, 2010 the Vietnam Archive had the pleasure of receiving two special guests from Hanoi, Vietnam: Mr. Nguyen Ho Nam and his wife, Mrs. Dang Hien Tram. After attending the graduation of their younger son from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, the Nguyens travelled to Lubbock, TX to visit their eldest son, Nguyen Ho Anh (Anh). Anh is a student assistant here at the Vietnam Archive, where he helps with the processing and digitizing of collection materials. Anh’s bilingual skills have proven invaluable in translating documents and communicating with Vietnamese speaking researchers.
While visiting their son, Mr. and Mrs. Nguyen came to the archive to see where Anh works and to meet the people he works with. The Nguyens were given a tour of the archive by Ann Mallett, Vietnamese American Heritage Archivist, and Archival Specialists Sheon Montgomery and Kevin Sailsbury. The focal point of the tour for the Nguyen family was viewing the diaries of Dr. Dang Thuy Tram.
Mrs. Nguyen is the sister of the late Dr. Dang Thuy Tram, and viewing the Tram Dairies—which are considered a national treasure in Vietnam— was a moving and emotional experience for her. We are honored that the family of Dr. Tram and Frederic Whitehurst have entrusted us with the care of her dairies.
This was Nguyen Ho Nam’s second time visiting the archive, and the third for Dang Hien Tram. We hope they can visit us again soon.
A travel guide produced by the Board of Tourist Industry, Japanese Government Railways, found in the Douglas Pike Collection: Indochina Archive (the collection is currently being processed and is scheduled to be made available to the public in the Spring) documents the plans for the Summer Olympic Games that were never held.
As we watch the 2010 Winter Olympic Games taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, from February 12th-28th, we revel in, applaud and admire the dedication, discipline, grace, and athleticism of our olympians, who symbolize and embody the international spirit of sportsmanship and national pride as they compete on a global level.
As these Winter Games take place it is hard to imagine a time when the state of international relations prevented the Olympic games from taking place, but there was. In 1940, the Olympic games of the XII Olympiad were cancelled due to global war, World War II.
The decision of where to hold the 1940 Summer Olympics had been a tumultuous one from the beginning. Japan and Italy quarreled over its location. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) chose Tokyo, Japan to host the Summer Olympics from September 21-October 6, 1940.
The IOC was forced to reverse its decision with the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War. The IOC chose Helsinki, Finland to host the games in lieu of Japan, untill the outbreak of World War II cancelled the 1940 Summer Olympic games altogether.
After her life was tragically affected by the war in Vietnam, Khuc, a woman of great heart and determination, dedicated herself to helping others begin a new life, as she did, in the United States. It took over a decade for her to win the release and resettlement of Vietnamese reeducation camp prisoners. An achievement that is a testament to her inner strength and courage. As a child she had been called a boy because of her strong will, but it was her determination to not give up, no matter the obstacles before her, no matter how long it took, that enabled her to win the long battle in aiding and freeing Vietnamese political prisoners and their families.
Born in 1939 in Sadec, a small village near Saigon, Khuc witnessed numerous traumatic events and lost many loved ones to the violence of the Vietnam War, including, her father, stepmother, and her husband, Nguyen Dinh Phuc. At only twenty-three years old and five months pregnant with her third child, Khuc became a young widow dedicated to helping and comforting other widows and family members of fallen South Vietnamese soldiers by assisting them in obtaining funding for their funerals, which neither the families or the government could afford.
Separated from her children during the fall of Saigon in 1975, Khuc anxiously awaited news of her family. She soon learned that her second husband, Nguyen Van Be, a colonel in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, along with two of her brothers, had been sentenced to reeducation. Khuc’s husband would spend thirteen years in the reeducation centers and they would never be reunited.
To learn more about the effects of the Vietnam War and the Vietnamese American immigration process, Cam Xuan Nguyen (Carrie) volunteered at the Vietnam Archive from October 31, 2008 to April 17, 2009. Carrie helped prepare the Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association Collection files for digitization by numbering folders, removing corrosive materials, and providing help with Vietnamese to English translation. In July, after receiving her J.D. in Business Law at Texas Tech, Ms. Nguyen took her BAR exam with the goal of working in International Law. While awaiting the results Carrie decided to tour South America for 3 months, primarily Ecuador and Peru. The Vietnam Archive is happy to learn the exciting news that Ms. Nguyen passed the BAR. Congratulations Carrie!
UNHCR’s (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) ODP (Orderly Departure Program) was instituted at the first International conference on Indochinese Refugees in Geneva in May of 1979 (UN meeting on refugees and displaced persons in Southeast Asia) as a humanitarian endeavor in response to the high mortality of “boat people” (Vietnamese refugees who fled Vietnam by boat after the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975). Nearly 30 nations participated in ODP, allowing Vietnamese refugees to emigrate from Vietnam in a legal, safe, and orderly manner instead of risking their lives at sea. The number of “boat people” who left Vietnam in the late ‘70’s and ‘80s is estimated from 1 to 2 million. No one knows the exact number of Vietnamese “boat people”, or how many of these refugees perished at sea or were killed by pirates. The ODP closed on September 30, 1994, however, on November 15, 2005 the U.S. and Vietnam signed an agreement resulting in the reopening of the ODP and the McCain Amendment (ammendment headed by John McCain which allowed the adult children of former Vietnamese reeducation camp detainees to immigrate to the U.S. along with their parents). The renewal of ODP ended on February 28, 2009 and the renewal of the McCain Amendment ended on September 30, 2009.
Saturday, October 3rd, 2009 marks the Mid Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon or Full Moon Festival. Traditionally celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, when the moon appears larger than it does on any other night of the year, the Mid Autumn Moon Festival (Tet Trung Thu) is the second biggest holiday in Vietnam and is widely celebrated throughout Asia. It is a time for family and to celebrate life, prosperity, and the harvest. During the Mid Autumn festival, parents prepare their children’s favorite dishes and buy them new toys. Children hear the story of Chu Cuoi (the man in the moon) and other fairytales. Hanging and floating lanterns are set out to decorate and people dance the lion and dragon dances. Mooncakes (made from lotus seed, ground beans, and containing a bright salted egg yolk in the center) are given to family and friends. Pomelo fruit and watermelon seeds are a special treat. At night children parade through the streets to the beat of drums wearing Paper Mache masks and carrying lanterns in the shapes of stars, rabbit heads, fish (carpe), butterflies, or lanterns with a lit candle inside that makes shapes spin representing the seasonal spinning of the earth.
Picture provided by wikimedia commons
On August 12, 2009, Ann Mallett, Vietnamese American Heritage Archivist, took the Academy of Certified Archivists’ C.A. exam at the Society of American Archivists 2009 Austin Conference. Ms. Mallett passed the exam and is now a Certified Archivist.
Van, a conscientious researcher from Geneva, Switzerland, spent three weeks in the Vietnam Archive gleaning information from over 13,000 Orderly Departure Program (ODP) Applications in the Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Associaiton (FVPPA) Collection (Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation), as well as other documents in other various Collections, for her Doctorial Thesis. She is currently attending the Universite du Quebec in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and hopes to earn a PhD in History. Van learned about the Vietnam Archive’s FVPPA Collection when she contacted the Archive’s Reference Archivist, Amy Hooker. Van’s ability to read, write, and speak French, English, and Vietnamese (she also speaks German) aided her in gathering ODP Applicants’ biographical data and curriculum vitae. Van was an absolute delight to have as a researcher in the Archive and the staff enjoyed having her here.
Although the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee’s (UNHCR) Orderly Departure Program closed in 1994 the Vietnam Archive’s Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoner’s Association (FVPPA) Collection (Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation) continues to help Vietnamese refugees immigrate to the U.S. Just this month a former Vietnamese reeducation camp prisoner was able to obtain political asylum in the U.S. by using the documents found in the FVPPA Collection to prove his case. This is an unexpected and profound use of the FVPPA Collection documents.