Vietnam Center & Archive News and Updates
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.
To celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month the Vietnam Center and Archive held its very first film festival on April 20th, 21st, and 23rd, 2009. The Vietnam Center and Archive collaborated with the International Cultural Center, Student Union and Activities, Tech Activities Board, Texas Tech University Libraries, PBS American Experience, and The CH Foundation to show the films New Year Baby and Daughter From Danang. The film festival was a success with an estimated combined 260 students attending the three showings. After the showing of New Year Baby on April 20th, 35 students stayed to hear a discussion panel conducted by Dr. Miriam Mulsow and Sothy Eng.
Photo Courtesy of Victoria Lovelady, Senior Editor
Left to Right (Ambassador Sichan Siv, Ann Mallett, and Martha Pattillo Siv)
To learn more about the effects of the Vietnam War and the Vietnamese American immigration process, Cam Xuan Nguyen (Carrie) began volunteering at the Vietnam Archive on October 31, 2008. Carrie helps prepare the Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association Collection files for digitization by numbering folders, removing corrosive materials, and providing help with translation. Carrie speaks and writes Vietnamese, English, and Spanish. She is a Vietnamese American from Saigon. Carrie immigrated to the US in 1994 at age 10. She is a graduate student from UT Austin with a BA in English and Government (Political Science). Her hobbies include: reading, traveling, and cooking. Among the things she enjoys in the U.S. are driving and eating Mexican Food . Carrie came to Texas Tech University to get a J.D. in Business Law . She will take her BAR exam in July and hopes to work in International Law, hopeful in the Washington D.C. or New York area.
Anh Ho Nguyen and Van Thanh Nguyen were married over winter break on December 28th, 2008, in Hanoi, Vietnam. Anh is a Vietnamese graduate exchange student from Hanoi who is working at the Vietnam Archive while earning his Masters in Business Administration at Texas Tech University. Prior to coming to the U.S., Anh studied Electrical Systems at Hanoi University of Technology. His choice to attend TTU in August of 2007 was due to his family’s connections to and good relationship with the Vietnam Archive. Anh became interested in working at the Vietnam Archive because it has so much information on Vietnam. On October 14, 2008, Anh began scanning and digitizing documents for the Vietnam Archive. His work will make these documents searchable and accessible to the public through the Virtual Archive. Anh’s ability to read, write, and speak English and Vietnamese fluently has been a great help and asset to the Vietnam Archive.
Anh enjoys tennis, playing games, and watching movies. Anh’s favorite things about his educational experience at TTU are the people & infrastructure of Texas Tech. The people of Lubbock, skiing (not in Lubbock), and sightseeing are what Anh enjoys most about his experience in the U.S.
We at the Vietnam Archive wish Anh and Van a bright future. May they share many happy years together filled with love!
On November 18, 2008 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) regional representative Michel Gabaudan wrote a letter congratualting the Vietnam Center and Archive for opening the Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association (FVPPA) collection, donated by the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation. In his letter, Mr. Gabaudan writes, “I commend the Vietnam Center and Archive, and the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation on their work to preserve this collection and make it available to researchers. The FVPPA’s documents will give researchers approximately 10,000 primary sources, first hand accounts, of Vietnamese immigrants and their experiences…The UNHCR is happy to have been a part of the Vietnamese-American immigration experience, and the contributions of the Vietnamese-Americans to our nation…”
The Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association (FVPPA) collection, donated by the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation, contains 117 linear feet of immigration applications of reeducation camp prisoners and their families in Vietnam. The FVPPA collection records the individual stories of 13,456 applicants for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) Orderly Departure Program (ODP) and 227 ODP correspondence files from individual sponsors. The FVPPA helped approximately 10,000 ODP applicants and their families immigrate to the U.S.
The Orderly Departure Application files contain documents proving eligibility for immigration to the U.S. through the ODP. These records include: ODP application forms, sponsor letters, prisoner release documents, personal letters, photos, copies of identification papers, birth, marriage, and death records, educational certificates, military records, exit visas, and other relevant documents.
Due to the personal nature of these documents and privacy concerns the Vietnam Archive did not make the ODP Application files available to the public on May 28, 2008 when the FVPPA collection was first made open to the public. While the Office Files were available to the public, the ODP Application files were restricted until December 1, 2008 so that individaul ODP applicants and their families could contact the Vietnam Archive and decide whether or not to restrict their ODP application file temporarily or permanently. Not a single ODP applicant who used the FVPPA to help them apply to the UNHCR’s ODP chose to restrict their file temporarily or permanently.
Of the FVPPA collection’s 166 boxes (165 and 1/2 linear feet), 163 are now open to the public and available for research. 3 boxes (2 and 1/2 linear feet) of medical records and social security numbers are permanently restricte due to privacy concerns.
On October 3rd-5th 2008 the Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association (FVPPA) held their Vietnamese Political Prisoners Day Convention at The Special Events Center in Dallas, Texas. Dr. James Reckner (Executive Director of the Institute for Modern Conflict Diplomacy and Reconciliation, and founder of the Vietnam Center and Archive), Jason A. Stewart (Oral Historian at the Vietnam Archive), and Anna Mallet (The Vietnam Archive’s Vietnamese American Heritage Archivist) attended the October 4th activities. The theme of the convention was “Children of Vietnamese Political Prisoners and Amerasians.”
An estimated 4, 000 people, former Vietnamese political prisoners and their families, attended the morning session (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) of the convention. The convention was the first ever reunion for Vietnamese political prisoners from all over the world, not just those who had resettled in the US. Representatives from all 5 of the Republic of Vietnam’s (South Vietnam) allies during the Vietnam War: America, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. A flag representing each of the Repulic of Vietnam’s allies was on stage. Also on the stage were 20 Republic of Vietnam flags that symbolized the 20 years from the re-education camps to freedom and resettlement worldwide, and almost 20 years since the Historic Agreement signed between the US and the Vietnam government on July 30, 1989. Dr. Reckner was a scheduled keynote speaker at the morning ceremony. Actress Kieu Chinh (famous for her role in Journey From the Fall) was also a speaker.
Dr. Reckner and Dr. Stephen Maxner (Director of the Vietnam Archive received awards from the FVPPA, presented by Khuc Minh Tho (cofounder and former President of the FVPPA), for the Vietnam Archive’s work to preserve and make accessible to the public its FVPPA collection, donated by the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation, which preserves the history and experiences of Vietnamese Americans who came to the U.S. with the help of the FVPPA under the UNHCR’s ODP.
At the evening session (6 p.m.-11 p.m.) an estimated 9,000 people attended to see the biggest Vietnamese stars perform and to see a fashion show designed by a talented AmerAsian designer. All performers are children of Vietnamese reeducation camp prisoners, many were AmerAsian. Almost every song performed was written by the performer themself and was about the Vietnamese reeducation camps. One VietnameseAustralian performed a song he wrote when he was a young student in Paris and heard that those he loved and admired were forced to report to reeducation. Colonel Bernard “Bunny” Leo Talley, Jr. spoke on behalf of Senator John McCain at the evening session. Colonel Talley was one of five high ranking U.S. military servicemen, all former POWs in Vietnam, who attended the Oct. 4th convention. Colonel Talley received flowers and a warm welcome and greetings from McCain kids (children of former Vietnamese political prisoners who immigrated under the McCain Bill refer to themselves as McCain kids in respect for and in appreciate of Senator John McCain and the Bill that allowed them to immigrate).
“The Reeducation Camp Exhibit” was displayed at the convention by The Museum of the Boat People and the Republic of Vietnam, and the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation. The Museum of the Boat People and the Republic of Vietnam is a brand new museum, it just opened this summer, and is the only museum soley dedicated to the Vietnamese outside of Saigon.