Vietnam Center & Archive News and Updates
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.
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!