The Vietnamese American 1.5 Generation: Stories of War, Revolution, Flight, and New Beginnings

The Vietnamese American 1.5 Generation: Stories of War, Revolution, Flight, and New Beginnings

The Vietnamese American 1.5 Generation: Stories of War, Revolution, Flight, and New Beginnings

The Vietnamese American 1.5 Generation: Stories of War, Revolution, Flight, and New Beginnings

Excerpt

In early 1976, less than a year after the fall of Saigon, I gave a lecture in my introductory Asian American history class at the University of California (UC), Berkeley on why more than a hundred thousand Vietnamese had come to the United States. Having been an antiwar activist, what I said was rather critical of U.S. foreign policy, the American conduct of the war, and the behavior of the leaders who had governed the Republic of Vietnam (the official name of the country that Americans called "South Vietnam"), especially during the months before Saigon fell. At the end of that lecture, as well as after the lectures on the same topic that I gave in the following three years, the handful of Vietnamese students enrolled in each class rushed up to the stage to tell me that what I had said was "completely wrong." Some were so angry that their faces were flushed and tears welled up in their eyes. Others called me a Communist. A few even declared that someone with my perspective should not be allowed to teach at an American university.

I understood their rage. After all, some of the very politicians and military commanders I had called "corrupt" or "incompetent" were their fathers, uncles, or other relatives. Most of the Vietnamese students who took my courses in that early period of Vietnamese resettlement in the United States came from well-to-do families that had employed live-in servants, cooks, washerwomen, and chauffeurs in their homeland. Although some of their parents had managed to find jobs as bilingual teachers' aides or as interpreters in government offices and voluntary social service agencies that served refugees, a larger number, after their arrival, were forcedto eke out a living in blue-collar or service occupations. Almost all blamed the United States for "abandoning" or "betraying" them. They rejected the idea that Vietnamese themselves, both those in the North and the ones in the South, also bore responsibility for the war's outcome.

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.