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A t a c
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Interview Community Leaders
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T r a n s l a t i o n
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P r o f i l e of V i e t n a m e se R e s e t t l e m e nt in M a s s a c h u s e t ts
D o r c h e s t e r , S e p t e m b er 2 1 , 1 9 9 7
(The f u l l o r i g i n a l text i s in V i e t n a m e se at the press conference
for a V i e t n a m e se A m e r i c an c o m m u n i ty center. )
Mr. An Ton-That, Director
Office f or Refugee a nd I m m i g r a n t H e a l t h
B u r e a u of F a m i ly a nd C o m m u n i t y H e a l t h
Massachusetts D e p a r t m e nt o f P u b l ic H e a l t h
250 W a s h i n g t o n Street , 5 th F l o or
Boston, MA 0210 8
telephone 617-624-609 1
fax 617-624-6062
The Vietnamese community in Massachusetts, in fact the real number of
h o w m a n y V i e t n a m e se are in the state I don't t h i nk we ar e really k n o w, b ut o n
the other h a nd I h a ve been w o r k i ng for b o th the p r i v a te non-profit a nd th e state
government, the best estimated of the V i e t n a m e se i s about 45,000 p e o p le in the
state of Massachusetts. M o s t o f t h em ar e in the Northeast, in G r e a t er Boston,
there are about 30,000 in Greater B o s t on a nd ther e are about 10,000 in Dorchester.
In Worcester there i s a large n u m b er of V i e t n a m e se a nd th e next area is the
W e s t e r n M a s s a c h u s e t ts s u ch places l i k e S p r i n g f i e l d , W e st S p r i n g f i e ld a n d
Northampton.
The reasons why Vietnamese most concentrates in the Northeast of
Massachusetts because of t wo w a v es of V i e t n a m e se refugees a nd i m m i g r a n t s.
The firs t w a ve in 1975 a nd th e second w a ve in late 1970's a nd earl y 1980's, the
refugee waves, w h en the v o l u n t a ry agency resettle d V i e t n a m e se a nd th e agency
that was m o s t active in resettlement V i e t n a m e se at the b e g i n n i ng i t w as th e
Boston U. S. C a t h o l ic C h a r i t i es ( U S C C ). A t this time the U S CC resettle d m a ny
Vietnamese in the B o s t on area because there i s a s t r o ng catholic c o m m u n i t y. A t
the b e g i n n i ng m a ny V i e t n a m e se resettle d in B r i g h t on a nd A l l s t o n a g a i n becaus e
there are s t r o ng catholi c c o m m u n i t i es there .
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In th e later years, there w e re other v o l u n t a ry agencies resettle d
Vietnamese b u t they w e re not as active as the U S C C. the y w as the Internationa l
Institute of Boston (IIB) , in 1975 there w e re about 5 cases of Vietnamese resettle d
i n the area. N e x t area i s Worcester, a g a in because of the s t r o ng catholic
c o m m u n i t i e s there , t h en S p r i n g f i e l d . W h e n i t comes to the "boat people " w a v e,
there w e re m a ny othe r v o l u n t a ry agencies in the Boston are a that operated
actively, l i ke th e International Institute of Boston a nd L a w r e n c e, International
Rescues C o m m i t t ee (IRC) , L u t h e r an Servic e a nd W o r ld Relieve , they a l l d id
resettlement.
For the first wave in 1975, there were a few Vietnamese resettled in
Dorchester b ut w h en i t comes to the "boat people" because of the v o l u n t a ry
agencies h a ve to f i nd h o u s i ng fo r the refugees a nd at the time there w e re
h o u s i n g availabl e at the l ow cost in Dorchester. O n e of the interesting t h i ng is
that for those Vietnamese a l r e a d y resettled in B r i g h t on a nd A l l s t on they m o v ed
to Dorcheste r because of l ow h o u s i ng cost or to be w i th other Vietnamese. T h i s
was a m a in reason w hy t o d a y Dorcheste r has m a ny m o re Vietnamese. W h e n
there is a c o n c e n t r a t i on of Vietnamese ther e w i ll be needs in v e ry d ay life, like
Vietnamese food s a nd other basic needs a nd m e d i c al a nd d e n t al doctors.
Today there is a psychologist after many years of advocacy from many
people. O n e of the t h i ng here is that m a ny o f us u s u a l ly do not h a ve great
concerns abou t th e m e n t al h e a l t h needs. A t the IIB , w h e re I w o r k ed w i t h the
resettlement p r o g r a ms for m a ny years a nd there w e re m a ny successfu l stories of
m a n y refugees a nd i m m i g r a n ts b u t the sad t h i n g here is that after a short p e r i od
of tim e a nd after a successful resettlement it s h o ws the n e ed f o r m e n t al h e a l th
services. A n d not m a ny p e o p l e i n the c o m m u n i ty h a ve concerns abou t thi s
because people don' t see i t a nd don't k n ow it . Especially , for the p e o p le tha t need
the services they don't k n ow that they h a ve m e n t al h e a l t h needs. I t is u n l i ke th e
p h y s i c a l h e a l th because p e o p le c o u ld see i t a nd people k n ow it.
In resettlement, when Vietnamese comes to resettle in the new land, in
the firs t about t wo years they t ry h a rd t o integrate into the "mainstream society "
and ther e is no s i gn for the n e ed of m e n t al h e a l t h b ut afte r t wo year s the need is
there. Becaus e in the firs t t wo years a l l refugees have to t ry v e ry h a rd t o integrate
into the n ew lif e a nd to be independent. W h e n f a m i l y issues h a ve settled a nd
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w h e n th e n e ed f o r m e n t al h e a l t h comes up. In life, w h en p e o p l e h a ve e n o u g h
o n f o o d on the table a nd the roof over thei r h e ad they are not enough .
Therefore, there is a n e ed to h a ve a place for people t o come to i d e n t i f y
themselves w i t h a nd to l o ok for the o ld times. I f not the m e n t al n e e d w i l l
continue to grow. B y s a y i ng this, I am no t u n d er v a l ue the w o r ks of the s p i r i t u al
leaders in the c o m m u n i t y, they ar e v e ry i m p o r t a nt p e o p le i n the c o m m u n i t y
and I v i ew th e s p i r i t u a l w o r ks are n ot the same w i th the m e n t al health.
It is the same today for the younger people in our community, they came
to the U.S. w h en they w e re y o u ng a nd n ow the y w a nt to go back to V i e t n am a n d
the m a in reason i s to search for their identity . T h i s is an issue a nd we l i k e it or
not a nd no matter of o ur politic . T h e y w a nt to go back because that is their
demand. W h e n I talk about th e m e n t al h e a l t h n e ed f o r the c o m m u n i ty that
w h a t I am t a l k i n g abou t tha t the o ld a nd the y o u ng are l o o k i ng for their
identities. W e ar e l i v i ng in a society a nd that society is a c o n s u m i ng society, this
means that in life p e o p le w a nt to h a ve their basic needs met first . B u t the
interesting t h i n g here i s p e o p le no t just l i v e o n ly on the basic needs a nd they
need to h a ve the s u p p o rt of the culture spirituality .
For the elderly, when I talk about long life we have to talk about beyond
the p h y s i c al h e a l th we als o h a ve to talk about th e m e n t al h e a l t h that s u p p o r ts for
the elderly. E v e n i f the elders l i ve w e ll w i th w h at ever they h a ve in life a nd the
s u p p o r t of their m e n t al n e e d i s not there we can' t talk about l o n g live . F r o m
H a r v a r d U n i v e r s i t y , M e d i c al School, I w a nt to m e n t i on abou t H e r b e r t B e n s o n
because he is a l o c al p e r s on a nd there are a ny people h a ve d o ne s i m i l a r ly studies
on th e elderly. Dr . Benson's thoughts a nd h is s t u dy w i th scientific data a nd
m a n y othe r doctors in the c o u n t ry also h a ve agreed w i t h h is s t u dy that , w h en w e
talk about th e h e a l th of a p e r s on he u s ed a s i m p le of a stand w i th three legs, the
first l eg he v i e ws as medicine, the second l e g is operation, a nd the t h i rd is the
s p i r i t u a l l y (tam linh) . In treatment, we c an not just treat p e o p le o n l y by
m e d i c i n e a nd o p e r a t i on we h a v e to i n c l u de the w e ll b e i ng of a person.
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In the end, the n e ed to h a ve a c o m m u n i ty center, w h en we a l r e a d y h a ve
churches, temples, a nd w i th h a p py familie s a n d we ar e m i s s i ng a c o m m u n i ty
center we a nd the c o m m u n i ty stil l m i s s i ng a k ey factor. I n the last f ew years m y
experiences t o l d me tha t for o ur e l d e r ly w e c an n ot h a ve l o ng lif e w h en thei r
m e n t a l h e a l th is n ot b e i ng supported. T h e c o m m u n i ty center is a k ey role i n the
elderly lif e a nd it is the same for the y o u ng people. T o d a y they w a nt to go back to
V i e t n a m to f i nd thei r i d e n t i t y because their m e n t al n e ed is n ot b e i ng s u p p o r t e d
b y th e c o m m u n i t y. Pleas e t h i nk of this a nd w o rk f o r w a r d to h a ve a c o m m u n i ty
center to s u p p o rt the needs of the c o m m u n i t y.
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I n t e r v i e w F a t h er C h i nh N g u y e n
T h e V i e t n a m e s e A m e r i c an C o m m u n i ty D e v e l o p m e n t
N o v e m b e r 4 , 1 9 97
(The f u l l o r i g i n a l text is in Vietnamese.)
Father C h i n h N g u y e n
V i e t n a m e s e C a t h o l i c C o m m u n i ty
Saint W i l l i a m ' s C h u r c h
1048 Dorcheste r A v e.
Dorchester, MA 0212 5
telephone 617-265-263 8
fax 617-265-5464
Q u e s t i o n : H o w d o y ou define the V i e t n a m e se c o m m u n i t y?
Answer: For those of Vietnamese that come to this church Saint
W i l l i a m , this is the V i e t n a m e se catholi c c o m m u n i t y. T h e catholic archdioces e
of Boston t r a d i t i o n a l l y define s that those w ho live s in the Saint W i l l i am
geographic are a that they b e l o ng t o the St. W i l l i am c o m m u n i t y. B u t for the
Vietnamese p o p u l a t i on that we do not concentrate in one geographic area , we
speak a different language a n d h a ve the same c u l t u re therefore the V i e t n a m e s e
don't fi t int o the t r a d i t i o n a l d e f i n i t i o n of the archdiocese. T h o s e V i e t n a m e s e
that c o me here t h e n the y ar e a part of the Saint William's c o m m u n i t y.
Question: How do you see the Vietnamese catholic community here in
relations w i th th e large r V i e t n a m e se c o m m u n i t y ?
Answer: First as a catholic priest, the main responsibility at the Saint
W i l l i a m i s to p r o v i de the r e l i g i o u s services a nd on the other h a nd th e pries t
needs to p r o v i de the c u l t u re a nd social s u p p o rt t o the p e o p le w ho c o me to the
church. Becaus e of that reason thi s c o m m u n i ty can't be by itself as its o wn
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community. I t has to be a part of the larger V i e t n a m e se c o m m u n i ty a n d the
Dorchester c o m m u n i t y .
Question: How is the relation of the Vietnamese catholic community
s h o u l d be w i th the V i e t n a m e se c o m m u n i t y ?
Answer: No matter what, this community has to be a part of the
Vietnamese c o m m u n i t y, thi s is the fact. W e c o u l d say this is a g r o up of
Vietnamese p e o p le a nd there are other g r o u ps of V i e t n a m e se p e o p le in the same
area, we spea k the same l a n g u a ge a nd have the same culture we h a ve to be a part
of the c o m m u n i t y. T h e issue here is that h ow do we w o r k togethe r on some of
the c o m m u n i t y socia l a nd e c o n o m ic issues a nd this is a difference matter .
Question: Is there a Vietnamese community here - Dorchester? Why
a n d w hy not?
Answer: Yes, I agree that we do have a Vietnamese community here.
Because e v e ry c o m m u n i ty ha s its needs a nd o ur c o m m u n i ty ha s needs. T h e
needs are p o l i t i c a l, social, a nd culture needs, t h en we n e e d to h a ve a collectiv e
voice to speak a nd ask of o ur g o v e r n m e n ts on the c o m m u n i ty development . I
do see m y s e lf as p a rt of the V i e t n a m e se c o m m u n i ty here .
Question: What do you see the individual and the community
responsibility i n e d u c a t i ng m e m b e rs of its c o m m u n i ty i n c i v ic duties?
Answer: First we are a part of the "mainstream" community and we are
"Vietnamese A m e r i c a n s" ( n g u o i My go c Viet). I t h i nk the i n d i v i d u al a n d the
c o m m u n i t y h a v e to participate in the c i v ic duties l i k e a ll other " A m e r i c a n s" b ut
w e nee d to m a i n t a in o ur i d e n t i ty o ur culture l i k e the I r i sh they d id w i th thei r
culture. T h e I r i sh A m e r i c a n s, they participate in a ll c i v ic activities a nd they stil l
have thei r o wn tradition s tha t they k e pt for generations a nd they can't be by
themselves, they also n e ed to be a part w i th the larger c o m m u n i t y .
Question: Who's responsible with what we should be involved or be a
part of in c i v ic duties?
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A n s w e r : Ther e h a ve to be both, th e i n d i v i d u a l needs to realize that thi s
is their r e s p o n s i b i l i ty to participate in the c i v i c duties a nd the c o m m u n i ty need s
to help thos e i n d i v i d u al to see tha t they n e ed to be a part of. S p e c i a l l y those w ho
don't see thei r responsibilities. B u t it is a challenge fo r V i e t n a m e se to f u l l y
participate in their c i v ic responsibilitie s w h en they don't h a ve the l a n g u a g e
capacity a nd culture comfortable .
Question: How do you see the community need to integrate into the
A m e r i c a n life ?
Answer: I and the catholic church believe that we (Vietnamese) need to
integrate i n to the A m e r i c a n life .
Question: Is the Vietnamese community integrated enough into the
A m e r i c a n society ?
Answer: Not only the Vietnamese community but other communities
that they are i n a s i m p l er situatio n that they need t o integrate into a n ew societ y
but i t is not a q u i ck process . W e b r i n g w i th us here (the U n i t ed States ) m a ny
g o o d a nd b ad traditions a nd in s o me cases the tradition s h ad b e en w i th us for
generations a n d this is a l o ng a nd d i f f i c u lt process. T h e m a in t h i ng here is that
w e need t o b u i ld on a nd offer o ur g o o d tradition s to the A m e r i c an traditions a nd
learn not t o c a r ry on w i th th e o u r b ad traditions.
The Vietnamese old saying, the culture is like a running river, it never
stops a nd it r u ns a nd m i x es w i th othe r w a t e r f r om othe r par t of the river . F or
example, the C h i n e s e h ad i n f l u e n c ed us (Vietnamese) for so m a ny year s a nd
later the F r e n ch h ad i n f l u e n c ed us for m a ny years . Thi s i s the same w h en w e
come to the U n i t e d States . W e d e c i d e d t o c o me to this c o u n t ry a n d the
A m e r i c a n c u l t u re w i ll influence us a nd we s h o u l d b e a part of i t or let it be a part
of our lives . T h i s i s our c o u n t r y now . L i k e to participate to vote a nd we n e ed to
educate our p e o p l e that v o t i ng is a responsibility of b e i ng a U. S. C i t i z e n.
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O t h e r c o m m u n i ty m e m b e rs s ay that the V i e t n a m e se w i l l integrat e i n to
the A m e r i c a n societ y m u ch q u i c k e r c o m p a re w i th s o me othe r ethi c
communities. Becaus e V i e t n a m e se t ry to learn E n g l i sh a nd we do t ry h a r d er to
integrate. Bu t i f we t r y too h a rd t h en it w i ll become that we forge t w ho we are .
Question: How the integration of the Vietnamese community into the
A m e r i c a n societ y s h o u ld be?
Answer: First, in order to have a good integration, we need to
u n d e r s t a n d th e A m e r i c an culture, w h at i t is? N ot every t h i ng is g o od a nd we
s h o u l d o n l y l e a r n w h at is "good" for us a t the same t i me we s h o u l d m a i n t a i n
w h a t we v a l u e i n o ur culture.
We also need to spread our culture to other, like the September Noon
festival. I f the V i e t n a m e s e catholic c o m m u n i ty i s n ot at the Sain t W i l l i a m the n
the Sain t W i l l i am won't be a part of the celebratio n of the festival , l i ke the
H a l l o w e e n that we ar e a part of the A m e r i c an tradition . I t is the same for the Tet
(Vietnamese L u n ar N ew Year ) celebration a nd it is n ow a part of the Sain t
W i l l i a m now .
For those of us (Vietnamese) don't want to see the American culture as a
part of t o d ay o ur cultur e then it is w r o ng a nd for those of us o n ly se e th e
A m e r i c a n c u l t u re as a part of their lives then they forget w ho the y are. L i k e for
those V i e t n a m e se f a m i l i e s that they o n l y spea k E n g l i sh to their c h i l d r en t h en
they have lost (mat goc) thei r identity. I am no t t a l k i n g about those that do n ot
u n d e r s t a n d or not a w a r e of the situation.
Question: What do you see how we (Vietnamese) need to maintain our
language a nd culture? Le t say some p e o p le say, this is y o ur c o u n t ry n o w , y ou
s h o u l d spea k E n g l i s h n ot Vietnamese.
Answer: I don't agree to that because first of all this is a "melting pot"
country, th e befor e (no t the N a t i v e people ) w a v es of p e o p le resettled on this n ew
l a n d the y k e pt t h e ir language a nd culture a nd the h i s t o r y of this c o u n t ry m a d e it
8
the " A m e r i c a n culture". We s h o u l d n o t forget o ur roots l i k e the firs t settler s
they didn' t forget their roots.
Question: Integrating, how do you see the community responsibility in
educating it s c o m m u n i ty m e m b e r s?
Answer: It depends on each community, at the Saint William, I myself
u s u a l l y advice p e o p l e to adjust a nd integrate into the n ew lives . T h e
V i e t n a m e s e c o m m u n i ty as a w h o le ther e w e re c o m m u n i ty c u l t u r e events in the
past thi s w as a g o od w ay t o m a i n t a in th e V i e t n a m e se traditions b ut ther e wasn't
a collectiv e effort to discuss of h ow o r w h e t h er to integrate i n to the A m e r i c a n
society. I t h i nk this needs to take place .
Question: How do you see the back home politic of the Vietnamese
c o m m u n i t y affec t w i th th e i n t e g r a t i o n process? Le t say the c o m m u n i ty p i c k e t i ng
of the V i e t n a m e se A m b a s s a d or f r om V i e t n am at a l o c al u n i v e r s i t y.
Answer: From a political perspective it is a good thing because we are
p o l i t i c a l refugees a n d this is not relat e to the i n t e g r a t i o n at all . O n th e othe r
h a n d thi s is a free c o u n t ry a n d for those tha t p i c k e t i ng they jus t u se their firs t
A m e n d m e n t r i g h ts to speak o ut a nd this is an i n t e g r a t i on i n to the A m e r i c a n
lives. A l l activities are c u l t u r e activities i n c l u d i ng the p o l i t i c a l activity . T h e
question her e is that w h at is the balance i n o ur lives b e t w e en a l l activities .
Question: How do you see the community development issues?
Answer: All community issues are integrated to one another. An old
Vietnamese s a y i ng tha t (co thuc m oi v uc d u oc dao) (on e need s to be fed to
archive things i n life) we n e e d to focus w i t h th e c o m m u n i ty e c o n o m ic issue s
and a t the same t i me we als o n e ed to focus on education, social , a nd spiritual.
Question: What are the economic issues for the community?
Answer: I think, we need to create jobs for those that need a job and job
t r a i n i n g for those ar e not r e a d y w i th th e job markets. T h i s has to be the focus ,
w h e n one has g o od job othe r thing s in life w i l l f o l l o w , l i ke g o i ng t o the church .
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Q u e s t i o n : W h a t is the m o st i m p o r t a nt issu e that f a c i ng the c o m m u n i t y ?
Answer: Family value, as a religious person, the Vietnamese family
needs to keep the "good V i e t n a m e se f a m i ly value" a nd n ot to l e a rn the "bad
A m e r i c a n f a m i ly v a l u e" s u ch as we n e e d to respect the elderly, o ur parents a nd
w e need to live for others. M a n y of the V i e t n a m e se they go too far a nd there are
m a n y b ad things in the A m e r i c an society specially w i th o ur y o u ng Vietnamese.
Question: What are other issues?
Answer: Education is a key, the needs to keep Vietnamese today and for
the next generation, we n e e d to b r i ng V i e t n a m e se into l o c a l schools .
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I n t e r v i e w A n d r ew L e o n g
T h e B o s t o n C h i n e s e A m e r i c an C o m m u n i t y D e v e l o p m e n t
N o v e m b e r 6,1997
(The f u l l tex t of the i n t e r v i e w )
Professor A n d r ew L e o n g
The L a w Center , C o l l e ge P u b l i c C o m m u n i ty a nd Servic e ( C P C S )
U n i v e r s i t y o f Massachusetts B o s t o n
100 M o r r i s s e y B l v d .
Boston, MA 0212 5
telephone 617-287-7243
Q u e s t i o n : H o w d o w e k n o w w h at we w a n t to do i s w h at the c o m m u n i ty
need?
Answer: If we look at the political basis, most of us because we have a
higher u n d e r s t a n d i n g of c o m m u n i ty d e v e l o p m e n t a n d in-orde r to h a ve a
political voice a nd a n economic p o w e r y ou hav e to be abl e to say that y o ur
people vote that y o ur p e o p le h a ve the influence. S o tha t is a need o f the
c o m m u n i t y . B u t i f we g o i n the c o m m u n i ty a nd as k w h e t h er thi s is truth, they
m i g h t no t h a ve the h i g h er u p o f u n d e r s t a n d i ng of h ow t h i n g w o rk at this leve l
w i t h c o m m u n i t y development .
Question: Generally, it would be fare to say that Asian Americans need
to be m o re p o l i t i c a l ly i n v o l v ed a nd thi s can be a p r o b l em statement .
Answer: He answers yes and there are a number of ways to measure
these, w i th n u m b er of p e o p le register or n u m b er of p e o p le t u rn out to vote. W e
c o u l d g o t o the city to ask f or list of voter registration a nd chec k out to see h o w
m a n y Vietnamese registe r in Dorchester a nd fin e out h ow m a n y o f t h em U. S .
C i t i z e n , I t h i nk the U. S . D e p a r t m e nt o f Justice m i g ht ha s thi s data. F r o m her e
11
we c o u l d chec k m a ny n a t u r a l i ze and b o r n in the U. S . a nd f r o m here we c o u l d
determent h ow m a n y eligibl e to vote b y 1 8 an d h o w m a n y t u r n out t o vote .
Question: On the economic aspect?
Answer: This is a need for both Dorchester and Chinatown, that there is
a n e ed fo r A s i an sub-contractin g i n c o n s t r u c t i on workers. K n o w i n g tha t either
no o r v e ry fe w o f V i e t n a m e se contractors that are l i c e n s i n g the on e tha t gone to
a l l the training . Ther e is a n e ed o f the c o m m u n i ty t o h a ve m o re jobs a n d ther e
is a reason w hy I
w a nt to say abou t the construction business becaus e for m a ny
m o r e years ther e w i l l be a lot of constructions in C h i n a t o w n, for about five years .
The M a y o r an d th e B R A s a i d that there w i l l be job s for the construction s an d
after the constructions . I am t a l k i n g about increase the n u m b er of A s i a n
contractors a nd thi s is a w ay t o create jobs for A s i a n.
In area of Asian business, This is not my area, understanding that there is
a h i g h o v e r t u rn rate a nd m o s t V i e t n a m e se or A s i an w h en the y c o me to o p en a
business, they jus t o p en h ow the y lik e i t w i t h o ut a n e ed assessment or a m a r k e t
studies. T h e y also concentrate t o o p en gif t shops or restaurants .
On the Vietnamese community center, this is a need of the community.
What I (Hiep Chu) assess of the Vietnamese community needs and the ideas
c o u l d be m y C E D project :
1) to establish a support network and technical assistant for Vietnamese
Dorchester businesse s a n d B o s t o n C h i n a t o wn t o strengthen curren t businesses t o
p r o v i d e job s fo r the c o m m u n i t y ;
2) to establish a Vietnamese workers own? sawing business because there
s k i l l s a w i ng p e o p le in the c o m m u n i ty a n d thi s w i l l create jobs f o r th e
c o m m u n i t y , w h e re they c o u l d ge t large r contract w i th th e stat e to saw uniforms ;
3) to increase civic participation for Vietnamese by having Vietnamese
parents i n v o l v e m o re the loca l schools an d t o p a r t i c i p a te m o re in their c i v i c
duties. Thi s i d e a i s m o re lastin g a n d abl e t o h a ve V i e t n a m e se i n v o l ve w i th th e
12
city h a ll politic . I f this i d ea is successful this m o d el c o u ld h e lp w i th othe r
Southeast A s i a n c o m m u n i t i e s .
For what ever the reasons that currently the Southeast Asian don't
actively participate in their civic responsibilities . I t isn't reality to w a it for the
y o u n g e r V i e t n a m e se generation or e v en for the second generatio n t h e n the y w i l l
have the language capacity a nd the part of the "mainstream c u l t u r e " b ut there is
no w a y tha t we w o u l d k n ow thi s w i ll h a p p en or not.
Question: To learn from the Chinese American community in the
1960's a nd 70's w i th thei r issues of c o m m u n i ty d e v e l o p m e n t ?
Answer: For the most part, when the immigration laws changed in 1965.
It b e g an to o p en up the gate of i m m i g r a t i on fo r m a ny C h i n e s e a n d other A s i a n
i m m i g r a n t groups. T h e m o st part because of the existin g p o p u l a t i on of Chinese
and othe r A s i an p o p u l a t i on w e re at the time i n 1965 a nd because of their
relatives are in N ew Y o r k C i t y or S an Francisco that they r e s i d e d a nd w h en the y
come over her e tha t w h e re they als o resided. Befor e 1965 to the extend tha t we
h a d a s m a l l er p o p u l a t i on of A s i an i n Boston a n d in the 1960's we m i g h t see an
i m m e d i a t e increase of the A s i a n p o p u l a t i o n in Boston C h i n a t o w n b ut we b e g i n
to see it's increase in the e a r ly 1970's.
At this time because of the population growth there is a need to create
social services because of t ow things: 1) to p o p u l a t i on g r o w th a nd 2) the c i v i l
rights m o v e m e nt to reassure the services to the people, so that there w e re a lot of
people g o b a ck to the c o m m u n i ty to p r o v i de service s to the c o m m u n i ty a nd if
the services weren't there then th e needs to create the services . T h i s w as w hy i n
the lat e 1960's or e a r ly 1970's there w e re formations of the S o u th C o v e
C o m m u n i t y H e a l t h Center , the C h i n e se A m e r i c a n C i v i c A s s o c i a t i o n (today is
the A s i an A m e r i c a n C i v i c A s s o c i a t i o n ) , the Q u i n cy C o m m u n i ty C o u n c i l (toda y
is the Boston N e i g h b o r h o o d C o m m u n i t y Center) .
Question: Was there a peak of Chinese immigrants coming to the U. S.?
Answer: It is hard to say whether there was a peak of Chinese
i m m i g r a t i o n because the Chinese ar e a l w a ys c o m i ng in post to 1965. S o f r o m
13
1965, ther e was a p o s i t i ve p o p u l a t i on g r o w t h a nd w e b e g i n t o see th e g r o w th o f
the socia l services organizations that p r o v i d i ng basis necessary services . I f y o u
able to p r o v i de service s for y o ur o wn p o p u l a t i o n b y th e same language and b y
the people are c u l t u r a l l y sensitiv e w h i ch we don' t necessary h a v e yet in
Dorchester fo r the V i e t n a m e se in the earl y 1970's. B e y o n d th e V A CA a n d som e
m i n e r of other p r o v i d e r c o m p a re to the C h i n a t o wn in the e a r l y 1970's. T o d a y
there ar e stil l C h i n e se c o m i ng i n to the U.S. an d m o s t l y i n the lat e 1960's to lat e
1980's they c o m e in u n d er th e f a m i l y unification .
Question: The politic, how was the politic of the Chinese community in
the 1970's a nd 1980's ? H o w d i d y ou v i e w th e c o m m u n i ty p o l i t i c them ?
Answer: I think it was the same compare with any other immigrant
c o m m u n i t i e s regardless o f l ow o r h i gh income s that they w e r e not p o l i t i c a l l y
active. Thos e are "ABC " A m e r i c a n b o rn C h i n e se that they ar e m o re p o l i t i c a l l y
active.
We don't see the change until sometime in 1980's they there was sign that
they b e g i n t o be m o r e i n v o l v e, s u ch as they b e n a t u r a l i z e d a nd the y t u r n out t o
vote. E v e n w h en we se e th e change in the 80' s on e w o u l d as k q u a l i t a t i v e l y w h at
is the change w h at is the l e v e l of p o l i t i c al involvement, t o t ry to generalize, w h at
h a p p e n in the 80' s tha t the p h e n o m e n on that the p i c t u r e of A s i an firs t
generation b e g i n t o donate m o n ey to c a m p a i gn but don' t ask fo r any t h i n g in
return, they d o n a t e d m o n ey t o the president , g o v e r n or a nd m a y o r a n d w i t h
w h o m ever , this is the change a nd I am no t t a l k i n g about the m o t i v a t i o n s w e r e
and thi s is not important .
With some other community they donate the money and they get the
appointments. W e sa w s o m e a p p o i n t m e n ts w i th th e Bush' s a d m i n i s t r a t i on a t
the sub-cabinet l e v e l s w h i ch was a
change b ut w e didn' t see m o re changes u n t i l
the firs t t e rm o f the Clinton' s a d m i n i s t r a t i o n. Y o u d e f i n i t e l y see a d e s t i n a t i o n in
the a p p o i n t m e n ts w h e re the A s i a n were , but ye t the i m m i g r a nt p a r t i c i p a t i on rat e
i n p o l i t i c a l c o n t r i b u t i o ns a nd reflectiv e of this that we ar e p r e d o m i n a n t l y a
i m m i g r a n t c o m m u n i t y. I n the 80' s ther e wa s a spli t of 5 0% n a t i v e b o rn an d 5 0 %
i m m i g r a n t s a nd i n the 90' s ther e i s 4 0% a n d 60% .
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Q u e s t i o n : W h y th e C h i n e s e didn' t i n v o l ve w i th c i v i c activitie s in the
70's a n d 80's?
Answer: For the most part that they felt in in-date with finding a job, try
to m a ke sur e tha t their k i ds go to schools, t ry to fit-i n a nd get along. W h e n w e
talk about c i v i c o p p o r t u n i t y a n d the a s s u m p t i on here is that an i n d i v i d u a l
already t o f u l l f i l l their basis necessary a n d w i th th e perfect of the i m m i g r a n t
p o p u l a t i o n thi s is not truth . E v e n w i th th e firs t generation t o d a y that w h en the y
i n v o l v e a nd the g e n e r a l i z a t i o n here is that they ar e riche r f o l ks a nd they h a v e
their basis needs met a nd t a l k i ng about the l o w e r i n c o m e f o l ks that thei r
p a r t i c i p a t i o n rate is v e ry low .
Question: Is the cultural aspect a factor at all?
Answer: I don't know and this is never tested out but this is a question
that w o u ld be different for each of the c o m m u n i ty w i t h i n the A s i a n c o m m u n i t y
and thi s is to do w i th th e history . T h i s i s m o re to do w i th th e i m m i g r a n t
experience a n d i d e n t i ty m e a n i ng that m o st of the adult , the o l d e r i m m i g r a n t s ,
they ar e U.S. c i t i z en now, their m e n t a l i ty fee l that there i s no o w n e r s h ip of this
country, thei r p o l i t i c i s still back h o me w h e t h er i t is w i th T a i w a n, c o m m u n i st
C h i n a , or a ny other part s so for the most part they don' t participate in the loca l
elections b ut f or the genera l election s l i ke for the president or the U. S. Senate
then there w o u ld be m o re but generall y the leve l of p a r t i c i p a t i on is still a l ow
level.
Question: What are some of the political issues for the community?
Answer: It is depend on the population and community, for example for
the w h i t e p o p u l a t i o n , the issu e of a b o r t i on m i g ht be i m p o r t a nt a t the genera l
election to vote f o r one candidate o r another a nd it is the same f or the C h i n e s e
i m m i g r a n t c o m m u n i ty i n the 70's if y ou are p r o - c o m m u n i st C h i n e se t h en y ou
w o u l d vot e fo r N i x on d u r i n g th e re-election . I t is the same for the las t election if
y o u ant i i m m i g r a nt y ou w o u ld vot e fo r D o le a nd the i m m i g r a nt p o p u l a t i o n
voted i t for C l i n t on that p r o - i m m i g r a t i on a n d o ur p o p u l a t i on h a v e v o t ed f o r
Clinton.
15
Q u e s t i o n : W h a t w e re some of the p o l i t i c al issues w i t h in the C h i n e s e
A m e r i c a n c o m m u n i t y i n the 60's a nd 70's ?
Answer: Issues of concerns that were common for the first generation of
immigrants, w h e re the v o t i ng p a r d on w o u l d ten d to be i m p a c t ed by the
candidate stand on w h at issues that w o u ld i m p a c t th e h o me l a n d , f or instant if
y o u w e r e the p e o p le f r om th e R e p u b l ic of C h i na a nd C l i n t on w o u ld f a v o r of the
most f a v or n a t i on a nd D o le w o u l d against , then y ou w o u ld vot e a l o ng those
lines.
Back in the 60's, you would fine the same type of phenomenon, for people
voted, they w o u ld v o t e d because i n the 60's there w as a great escape o f the
c o m m u n i s t f or H o ng K o ng a nd the T a i w a n, a t the same t i me there w e re a lot of
people stil l i m m i g r a t ed int o other countries because o f the fear of the
communist. T o the extend that f or the n a t u r a l i z ed v o t er back t h e n they k n ow
candidate that anti c o m m u n i st a nd w ho w as not. Thos e issues w e re the issues
back then , w ho w a s the anti-communist .
Question: If we have a chance to do thing over again what/how and
h o w we w o u l d d o differently ?
Answer: I am not sure whether we could have this discussion because
in-order for p e o p le to participate in a ny p o l i t i c al system, they h a ve to take some
sense of i d e n t i ty a nd o w n e r s h ip a n d these come w i th time a nd m a t u r i ng a nd
people lik e m y s e lf to s ay to the c o m m u n i ty that w h at the c o m m u n i ty s h o u l d
care about w h at is here a nd we ar e a ll care about what's ever h a p p en back h o m e
but we ar e here now. Becaus e of this it is necessary for the p o p u l a t i on to g r ow to
take care of their basis needs before we c o u l d entertain some other h i g h er civi c
activities or issues.
16
Q u e s t i o n : I t is s o u nd lik e this is a g i v en an d ther e isn' t m u ch that w e
can do ?
Answer: You could say that and on the other hand we could do as much
c o m m u n i t y o r g a n i z i n g b ut p e o p l e m i g ht not car e about p o l i t i c a l p a r t i c i p a t i o n
unless p e o p l e see ther e i s a direc t r e l a t i o n s h ip that i n v o l ve in the v o t i n g of th e
ballet and i t is v e ry difficul t that y ou ar e g o i ng t o elect is w ay u p her e and tha t
w o u l d h a ve a direct i m p a ct for you .
Question: It is sound like that the experience of the Chinese American
c o m m u n i t y i s the same w i th th e experienc e o f the Southeas t A s i an A m e r i c a n
c o m m u n i t i e s ? I t is l i ke that we jus t need m o re time and t i m e is the answer .
Answer: I think on one hand that we need more time but on the other
h a n d tha t we ar e tota l in-action d u r i ng tha t time. W e n e e d t o p r o v i de th e basi s
services firs t in-order to l i nk that to the vote . Fo r example , the refuge e a n d
i m m i g r a n t p o p u l a t i on the y w i l l be i m p a c t e d o n th e F o od S t a mp issue , n ow the y
u n d e r s t a n d h ow i m p o r t a n t i t is to become U. S . c i t i z en and b e c o m e voter o n th e
w h o l e n a t i o n al l e v el because they se e th e connection . W e h a v e to be abl e t o
m a k e the p e o p le see th e connectio n befor e the y tak e th e o w n e r s h ip o f the issu e
before g o t o vote. Thi s i s w h at we n e e d to sel l to t h em a nd in-orde r to have
t h e m participate .
Question: Why can we just say to the people that forget about the politic
back h o me and w e s h o u l d focu s w i t h w h e re we ar e n o w?
Answer: I think 20 or 30 years ago we could said that but today we can no
longer effect ? that s i m p l i s t ic o f thing, a n d thi s is for a ll i m m i g r a nt c o m m u n i t i e s
because of the m o b i l i ty factors, it is so advance n ow tha t we ca n n o longe r tel l th e
p e o p l e to devote themselves f r om thei r h o me l a n d, this is not effectiv e a n d
there are m a ny p e o p le that they d o trave l back and for e and w e k n o w thi s was a
difficult to do before .
17
Q u e s t i o n : H o w d i d the C h i n e se c o m m u n i ty perceive the same massage
i n th e 60' s a nd 70's?
Answer: Because of the immigrant mentality that you are an immigrant
and y o u don't forget y o ur h o me land . T h i s w as a challenge fo r the y o u n g
generation. Bu t we c o u l d tel l t h em that they s h o u l d excis e their righ t to vote fo r
their p o l i t i c a l interes t back home. T h i s is a connection a n d o r g a n i z i ng take s
time.
18
F u l l
T e x
t o
of
the Welfare Reform Focus Group
March 12, 1998
f
T r a n s l a t i o
n
W e l f a r e R e f o r
m Focu
s G r o u
p
at
T h e D o r c h e s t e r H o u se
Dorchester, Massachusetts
M a r c h 12,199 8
(The f u l l o r i g i n a l text of the focus g r o up i s in Vietnamese.)
There are total of 13 Vietnamese participated in the focus group. From my
left to right, Ms. Jennife r Kasper, Ms. H o n g H u y n h, Ms. T h a n h T hi N g u y e n, Mr .
T r a n T r u o n g, Ms. T r a n g N g u y e n, Mr. H u a P h u n g L i n h, Mr. D o ng A, Mr. X e V a n
Le, Mr. C h u i g yn C h u i, Mr. D a o D o a n , Mr. L i em N g u y e n, Ms. T u N g u y e n , a n d
Ms. D u n g N g u y e n .
Mr. Chuigyn Chui
I am a n ethni c V i e t n a m e se f r o m C e n t e r V i e t n a m. W h e n I w as i n
V i e t n a m , I h a ve the l a n d, h o me a nd wa s abl e to w o rk a nd e a r n the l i v i ng o n o u r
own. T o d a y I resettle in the U.S. w i t h o u t the l a n d, home, or a ny t h i n g (will ) a n d
n o w th e g o v e r n m e nt talk s about not h a v i ng the benefit there. T h is w i ll be a v e ry
difficult t h i n g f or us. D u r i n g the t i me I was i n V i e t n a m, was y o u n g , a l l of m y
life served in the S o u th V i e t n am M i l i t a r y tha t s u p p o r t ed by th e U n i t ed States
G o v e r n m e n t a nd th e interest of the U.S. V i e t n a m wa s a t war. A f t e r the war, I
was i n p r i s on by th e N o r th V i e t n a m e se C o m m u n i s t G o v e r n m e nt f or m a ny
years.
Today, I am in the U.S. as a late arrival and the U.S. government changed
the p o l i c y on benefits . T h i s means that I (we) i s suffering f or a ll of my life . I ask
that y ou h e l p to p r o p o se to the government tha t the p o l i cy needs t o be changed .
I don't u n d e r s t a nd that w hy f o r those of w h om came to the U.S. befor e us her e
were able to benefited of the benefits a nd toda y not that we resettle s in the U.S .
late because I f o u g ht for the f r e e d om o f the S o u th V i e t n am a n d f o r the f r e e d o m
of th e w o r ld a nd w h y "th e p e o p le before us d r u nk th e g o od w i n e a n d w e d r i n k
the lef t over". W e w e r e p o l i t i c a l prisoners , sentenced to dead, a nd ther e was a n
19
i n v o l v e m e n t of the U.S. G o v e r n m e nt t h en th e U.S. has to h a ve responsibilitie s
i n the aftermath. I urge tha t g o v e r n m e nt needs to reconsider of the benefit
policy for those of people lik e us.
Mr. Dao Doan
I w a nt to talk about th e reason w hy the p o l i t i c al refugees is here as a
m e m b e r of the V i e t n a m e se c o m m u n i t y i n A m e r i ca w i t h a special reason. T o
continue f r om M r. C h ui the reason w hy I (we) ar e here a nd h ow th e W e l f a r e
reform effec t o ur refugee lives . A s y ou a l r e a dy k n ow most of the P o l i t i c a l
detainees refugees came to this c o u n t ry are a l r e a dy old. O u r y o u th years already
used t o serve the country. A f t e r that we w e re in jail (re-education camps). O u r
health is r u i n. Becaus e of the H u m an O p e r a t i on p r o g r am we c an c o me to this
country to l i ve o ur left over lives . W h a t e v e r we d i d f or o ur c o u n t ry f or o ur
allies w ho ar e A m e r i c an w h o lef t us alone a nd let us face the result of the w ar
and n ow t o face w i th the d i f f i c u l t life , w i th the w e l f a re r e f o rm effec t o ur lives .
O u r live s h a ve so m a ny difficulties . W e receiv e the w e l f a re e v e ry month .
Before there is no rule for the welfare recipients to do anything for the
system. Bu t n ow th e system r e q u i r e the w e l f a re recipients has to do s o m e t h i n g
for th e government. I t is s i m i l ar to h a ve a job. Y o u h a ve to w o rk f or the money,
y o u have to use y ou l a b or to p ay back fo r w h at y ou receive. T h e w o rd Socia l
Welfare A s s i s t a nt is l o s i ng it s p u re meaning. T h e rules t r a p p ed the recipients .
T h e y don't h a ve time to learn the n ew language , to adapt th e n ew lif e i n order
to f i n d a job in the near future . E v e n the job t r a i n i ng classes a nd E n g l i sh As a
Second L a n g u a ge classes are e l i m i n a t ed because the y w e re f o r c ed to do
s o m e t h i n g f o r the g o v e r n m e nt w h i ch ar e k n o wn as "volunteer" in o r d er to
receive the money.
Many social workers in the Bowdoin Social services office discriminate
a n d l o o k d o wn on us especially on Vietnamese c o m m u n i t y f o r e x a m p le one of
the p e r s on is K a s ch M a r t i n . Sh e is the m o st d i s c r i m i n a t ed p e r s on w ho doesn' t
have the feeling I h a ve to say that . W e ar e the people w ho h ad the education, we
have o ur knowledge. A l t h o u g h we h a v e the E n g l i sh barrier to express ourselves
but h a ve e n o u gh E n g l i sh to u n d e r s t a nd othe r people, A m e r i c an people . Thos e
20
social w o r k e rs have w o r k e d agains t the American's traditions . W e l f a r e r e f o rm
also effect o ur c h i l d r e n.
The bilingual program to help children who are newcomers to use our
mother languag e s l o w ly a d a p t i ng E n g l i sh the n ew languag e a nd the e d u c a t i on
system. T he b i l i n g u al f u nd is also cut d o wn by State budget. I t is about jobs. In
this c o u n t ry there are m a ny p e o p l e are c u r r e n t ly on u n e m p l o y ed e v e n t h o u g h
they are A m e r i c an a nd other races. T h e Vietnamese came here as a refugee, i f
w e w a nt to compete w i th the native p e o p le for the job, it is n ot an easy t h i ng to
do because we ar e already o l d. P l u s o ur E n g l i sh i s not e n o u gh to speak a nd listen
for e v e r y t h i ng the y w a nt us to do.
When we fill our an application it is already a challenge and when the
e m p l o y e r s k im t h r o u gh the a p p l i c a t i on a nd see o ur age h ow m a n y e m p l o y e r
w i l l i n g to accept the p e r s on a nd let that p e r s on become one of the employee. T o
l o o k for a job is v e ry difficult. T h e Vietnamese ar e p o p u l ar f or their intelligen t
a n d h a r d w o r k i n g. We ar e not l a zy b ut in this situation o ur age is p r o b l e m. L et
ask h ow eas y the A m e r i c an e m p l o y e rs w i l l accept us w i th the age that we have .
At this point the federal and the state must set up the priority for the
refugees in o r d er to compete f or the jobs w i th the A m e r i c an employees a n d
other races. Besid e that o ur lives w i t h in o ur n e i g h b o r h o od i s also complicate .
W h e n we don' t h a ve th e same language a nd o ur s k in are n ot the same colo r w e
can't c o m m u n i c a te w i t h n e i g h b or a l t h o u gh we l i v e next to each other f or a f ew
years. T h e n e i g h b o rs w ho l i v e next to us c an not u n d e r s t a nd us a nd we c an n ot
u n d e r s t a n d them. W e a l w a y s l o ok at each other w i th an u n t r u s t i ng eyes. T h e y
don't trust us because they don't k n ow us e v en t h o u gh we didn' t do a n y t h i ng
illegal. A n d I t h i nk they m i s t r u st us m o re then we mistrus t them. I t is v e ry
u n c o m f o r t a b l e w h i ch i s o p p o s i te w i th o ur customs. I n o ur customs th e n e i g h b or
is m o re w o r t hy t h an o ur o wn brother s a nd sisters. Thos e ar e the difficulties tha t
w e hav e sinc e we h a v e th e w e l f a re reform.
Mr. Tran Truong
I t h i nk we hav e m a ny difficulties . W e ar e o r i g i n a l ly w e re the officers for
the V i e t n am R e p u b l i c a n . W e h a d been i n re-education c a m ps f or m o re t h an 9
21
years. I t h i nk w h en A m e r i c an sponsored u s to this country. B u t w h en we get
here we ar e treated the same as other refugees w ho ar e e c o n o m ic refugees .
A l t h o u g h s o m e of t h em ar e p o l i t i c a l refugees b ut most of t h em ar e e c o n o m i c
refugees. H e r e we ar e p o l i t i c al detainees w ho fough t for the c o u n t ry a nd a r my
w h i c h ha s A m e r i c an as allies. T h e V i e t n a m e se A m b a s s a d or in T he U n i t ed Stat e
h a d bee n in jail f or 5 years. We h a d been in jails for 9 years. Bu t w h en an
A m e r i c a n w as c a p t u r ed i t w as u n d er n a t i o n al standard. B u t w h en we w e re in
jail, we w e r e u n d er the h a nd o f the c o m m u n i st w ho h ad the p o w er to let us live
or die at anytime. Le t ask i f a ny b o dy care for us.
The American Prisoners only stayed at Hoa Lo but we were sent to deep
forest. We w e r e y o u ng people. A t age 27 we w e re already at c a p t a in range. O u r
w h o l e y o u th live s a l r e a dy s p e nd on that. A t the re-education c a mp o ur lives
w e r e r u i n ed because we couldn' t do a n y t h i ng . T h ey send u s the n ew economi c
zone. W e don' t w a nt to c o m p a re us w i th other A m e r i c an veterans. B u t at least
w e m u st h a ve some special statics. We don' t care about a ny politics g a me b ut
A m e r i c a n h ad to u n d e r s t a nd tha t we a l r e a d y sold, u s ed o u r w h o le live s in that
war. A n d w h en we came here we h a v e to l i ve in a difficult p o v e r ty lives . A
f a m i l y w i th 6 people we receive d $500 or $600 dollars a nd about $300 in f o od
stamps. W e h a v e to p ay $700 for rent a nd other necessities. It' s m e a nt that we
are again in a e c o n o m ic d i f f i c u l t y l i k e we l i v e d i n V i e t n am i n an u n d e v e l o p e d
area. H ow ca n we m o ve u p? H ow ca n we be comfortable.
Now get back to the Healthcare. We are old people now. Our eyes are not
clear a ny m o re a nd o ur teeth start f a l l i ng out. O u r h e a l th a l r e a dy r u i n ed in the
re-education camps. W h e n we nee d th e c r o wd or denture fo r the fron t teeth just
for cosmetic reason , the system approved . B u t w h en we n e e d to h a ve c r o wd for
the w i s d om teet h w h i ch ar e necessary fo r eating, they d i s a p p r o v e d. I t h i nk that
is the general policies but y ou h a ve to t h i nk about the p o l i t i c a l refugees w h o
fought a l o n g w i th the A m e r i c a n. Y o u can't use the policies to treat differen t
people, I b e l i e ve that is w r o n g. W e ar e p o l i t i c al detainees w ho f o u g h t w i t h
A m e r i c a n , w e h a v e to be different. A m e r i c a n V et received about $2,000 w h i le
w e o n l y receive $100 or $200. We n e e d t h em to reconsider for us because we ar e
o l d now. Tha t is one of the point. T h e second p o i n t is they didn' t let us b r i ng
our o wn c h i l d r e n , w ho ar e over 21 , to this country .
22
The T h o m M c C a i n rule s w as out f or o n ly one year b ut that i s on p a p e r
only. B u t on the reality they h ad to t h i nk about th e V i e t n am government .
W h e n th e A m e r i c an A m b a s s a d o r in T h ai L a nd sen d ou t the i n t r o d u c t i on letter ,
it took a f ew m o n t hs or almost a year to get the passport, to f i l l out a l l the pape r
w o r k a nd by the time we ge t a ll the p a p er the l aw i s a l r e a dy e x p i r ed w h i ch m a d e
thousands o f c h i l d r en w ho ar e 21 years a nd older h ad separated a nd stay in
Vietnam. W h a t i s the reason w hy le t the parent c o me b ut not thei r o w n
children? E v e n t h o u gh th e A m e r i c an w a n t to c o n t r ol the p o p u l a t i on b ut i t
doesn't m a ke a ny sense. I t does not m a ke sense because w h en the parent get o ld
they need h e l p f r om th e c h i l d r e n .
If the American do not want to take care of us the elderly they should let
our c h i l d r e n c o me here. Thos e c h i l d r en w i l l w o rk to take care us. C o m i n g her e
an o l d man's r e c e i v i ng SSI a nd h is o ld wife's also r e c e i v i ng SSI a nd e v e r y d ay
they go o u t s i de l o o k i ng for e m p ty cans a nd bottles to sell. Isn' t that embarrassing
the A m e r i c a ? I t m a k es us feel shameful .
I also want to talk more about the bilingual program that Mr. Dao already
talked about. T h e b i l i n g u al p r o g r am i s necessary to m a i n t a in because th e
b i l i n g u a l p r o g r am m a k e e v e r y t h i ng move. L e t ask w h en A m e r i c an p e o p l e came
over V i e t n a m, d id they adapt to o ur customs q u i c k l y enough? W h e n I go to
school to l e a rn the language i t is o ne thing. B u t w h en I received d o c u m e n t a t i o n
paper i t is another thing. I t i s t wo different languages. That' s w hy w h en peopl e
receive letters f r om office s they p ut t h em aside because the y don't k n ow what's
the lette r for. I t delays w o rk for the office as w e ll as o ur benefit because we don' t
k n o w w h en is the d e ad line . W e h a v e m a ny Vietnames e w o r k i n g i n the U n i t ed
States h ow c o me they couldn't f i nd one p e r s on to translate the paper. O n th e
f o r m i t w as translated a short message. I t says this d o c u m e nt i s v e ry important.
It needs to be translate i m m e d i a t e l y. Translat e immediately!!!! H o w! we h a v e to
b r i n g the d o c u m e nt to some o r g a n i z a t i on ask t h em to translate f or us. I t is
difficult. W h y n o t use one p e r s on to translate the w h o le f o r m t h e n m a ke
m i l l i o n of copies. W h y tak e a w ay the b i l i n g u al p r o g r am the n m a ke i t costs m o re
for A m e r i c a n .
Then about the people who were released from the re-education camps
before three years. T h e c o m m u n i st a l r e a dy m i s j u d g ed thos e people. N o w a g a i n
23
the A m e r i c a n m i s j u d g i n g them. T h e y w e re not q u a l i fy for the benefit. P e o p l e
have t wo power. O n e i s the (economic) a nd one is political. T h e economi c
p o w e r d r i ve p e o p le to eat to dress. T h e p o l i t i c a l decide h ow we live . A n d w e
are politica l detainees . I don't say that I don't h a ve the p o l i t i c al p o w er after lef t
the re-educatio n camp, b ut a l m o st none.
The people who left before 3 years even have more difficult lives than us
because the y h ad to go to the u n d e v e l o p ed area . T he A m e r i c an m i s j u d g e those
people because th e reason the c o m m u n i st release those p o l i t i c al prisoner s earl y
because th e g o v e r n m e n t nee d th e expertise f r om doctors , engineers...etc... ( one
officer a nd k i ll m o re t h en h u n d r ed o f soldier because one s o l d i er c an o n ly k i l l
one b u t one o r d er f r om officer s c an k i ll thousand) I suggest the A m e r i c an to
reconsideration f or those people. A b o u t a d a p t i n g o ur live s to this society I leave
it to other p e o p le to talk about. E a c h of us s h o u ld talk about one part.
Ms. Tu Nguyen
I w o u ld lik e to share my idea . M y fathe r came here a l m o st t wo years. I
came here u n d er th e p r o g r am f o r P o l i t i c al detainee' s c h i l d r en w ho ar e over 21.
W e than k the U.S. g o v e r n m e nt a lot. I t w as k i nd o f s u d d en fo r me t o leave
V i e t n a m a nd came here. I m y s e lf m a r r i ed h a ve t wo children. I w as d i s q u a l i f i e d
on 5-5-95 the d ay my fathe r h ad the interview. I , my siste r a nd my t w o c h i l d r en
were d i s q u a l i f i ed t wo w e ek before t h a t. O n Sep t 97 my fathe r s e nd us a letter say
that he a l r e a dy f i ll out a f o rm f or my case . I didn't t h i nk i t w o u ld c o m e thi s fast .
O n Sep t 96 my fathe r send us the form. I n 97 I got the interview. A f t e r 4 m o n t hs
I came here. T o this d ay I've been l i v i n g i n this c o u n t ry f or 7 months. T h e
economic i s difficult . I n V i e t n am I w as a teacher. L i f e in V i e t n am i s tied. T h e
t h i n g I w o r ry about i s about my t w o children's future .
Within two years I don't think I can afford to send the two children to
school. O n e i s r e a dy to go to college, the other is in the tenth grade. I am k i n d of
uncertain b ut w h en I came here I am v e r y h a p py because my c h i l d r e n h a ve the
opportunities to c o n t i n ue their education. E v e n my d a u g h t e r o n ly 13 years o ld
said so I am v e r y h a p py to hear that b ut she also feels b ad because there is a
c o m p a r i s o n b e t w e en A m e r i c a n a nd Vietnamese, th e Y o u ng one is in regular
p r o g r a m a t C l e v e l a nd school.
24
The o l d e r one goe s to S o u th Boston. W h e n we registered , we registe r for
the m a i n s t r e am p r o g r a m. Bu t w h e n th e grandfathe r too k her ther e h e m a d e th e
mistake took her t o the b i l i n g u a l p r o g r a m. A f t e r a fe w months , the schoo l f o u n d
out tha t she i s in the w r o ng class. I asked the schoo l t o p ut he r b a ck to th e
regular class. Bu t w h en she goe s to the regula r class, a ll of the teacher s trea t he r
differently. T h e y s a y i ng " i f y ou don' t k n ow E n g l i s h w hy don' t y ou sta y o n th e
b i l i n g u a l p r o g r am w hy g o t o the regula r classes." I disagree w i t h them .
A l t h o u g h E n g l i sh is her secon d language but i n this c o u n t ry i t is the firs t
language. I t m i g ht be difficul t i n the b e g i n n i ng bu t i f she t r y her bes t prett y s o on
she w i l l b e i m p r o v e d . I n the firs t few m o n t h s the on e o f teache r doesn' t seem t o
be agreed , not sincer e and e v e n give her a "D". Sh e i s v e ry upset . Sh e cam e u p
and c o m p l a i n e d to the teac h an d aske d for the reason because she i s not a l a z y
student a n d th e teache r o n l y smiles .
Through the teacher's action we have a feeling he discriminate her. I
believe that the teacher s n e e d t o rethink, for some of the b a d V i e t n a m e s e
students tha t they don't do th e schoo l w o r ks a nd th e teache r giv e t h em th e b a d
grades then I do u n d e r s t a n d that. I n my daughte r case, she i s a y o u ng studen t
and th e u n f a i r treatment of the teacher s w i l l creat e a b ad i m a g e for her .
About the welfare, for the beginning of the settlement, with the current
a m o u n t of m o n ey each month. I t is just about e n o u gh for the l i v i n g expenses .
This i s g o od i n the w a y tha t I w i ll h a ve the time to s t u dy especiall y l e a r n i ng
E n g l i s h a nd E n g l i s h is my secon d language, w i th m y o l d age m y l e a r n i n g w i ll b e
slower. I
h a ve t wo year s for my benefit s and m y c h i l d r e n are older. I w a nt to
thank to the g o v e r n m e nt for the assistants . Bu t I also w a nt to r e c o m m e nd tha t
for thos e of the o l d e r p e o p le a nd especia l n e e d ed p e o p le the g o v e r n m e nt s h o u l d
consider t h e m differently . T h i r d , I w a nt to talk about health, p e o p le l i k e me ar e
not to o o l d nor to o y o u ng a nd ofte n do no t fee l w e l l.
Generally, we all have our own sickness, when I was in Vietnam, I had
h i g h b l o o d pressur e a n d ofte n fee l headache W h e n I go t o the docto r her e an d
tell the docto r h o w I
feel or w h at w r o ng w i t h m e the n they just don't believe me .
I am rea l disappointed. I go t o the docto r because I feel sick a nd th e doctor s
25
s h o u l d be in the p o s i t i on to se e w h e t h er I am sic k or not. A n d the doctor s h ow
the negative? l o o k that I am no t to o happy .
This is the same with my younger sister and this is with American doctor
(non-Vietnamese doctor). My siste r has th e back p a i n, w h en she goe s to th e
doctors they just l o ok a nd didn' t say anything . M y siste r express th e disbelieve
and th e doctors say "don' t y ou b e l i e v e me?
" my siste r replies "not tha t I don't
believe you, I am jus t not h a p py that y ou ar e not t e l l i n g me a ny things". Late r
m y siste r goes to the V i e t n a m e se doctors that they giv e her th e drugs. I t is t r u th
that "when we ar e feeling sick then we go to the doctors a nd w h en we ar e no t
feeling sick then we ar e not g o i n g t o the doctors a nd we don't ask fo r the drugs. "
W h e n we ar e sick a nd g o i ng t o the doctors w i th the b ad expressio n then I don't
t h i n k that we s h o u l d go to the doctors. I t h i nk doctors n e ed to u n d e r s t a nd m o r e
about different g r o u ps of people a nd treat everyone fairly . T h i s is to h a ve g o od
relations to a l l people .
Mr. Chuigyn Chui
I r e c o m m e nd tha t the project m i g ht w a nt to t h i nk about d e s i g n i ng a
survey f o r m t o pass out to us a nd we f i l l out then send back to you. Becaus e we
m i g h t not h a ve the time t o listen to everyone. I
(Hiep) r e c o m m e nd tha t i f
anyone of t h em w a nt to w r i te their thought e v e n in V i e t n a m e se a nd just send it
to me o r Ms. Y en Ta at the Dorchester H o u s e then please do so.
Ms. Hong Huynh
I h a ve y o u ng c h i l d r e n , no w o rk experience , v e ry l o w e d u c a t i o n a l level I
just don't k n ow h ow to l o ok for a job. W h en I go a nd l o ok for jobs I don't k n ow
h o w t o speak E n g l i sh this is a real barrier to go to work. Becaus e of my situatio n
no one w i ll w a nt to h i re me a nd n ow I h a ve my y o u n g c h i l d r e n . I h a ve been
here i n the U.S. f o r f o ur a nd half years.
Mr. Chuoi
I a r r i v ed to the U.S. i n late M a r ch of 1996 a n d today i t is about t wo year s I
have been in the U.S. I
h a ve five c h i l d r en a nd they ar e a l l u n d er 12 years of age .
26
M y f a m i l y i s r e c e i v i ng the benefit s that i n c l u de f o o d stamps, m e d i c a id a nd cash.
The tota l of $900 is in cash a nd $400 is in f o od stamps per m o n th a nd according t o
the D e p a r t m e n t of T r a n s i t i o n al Assistance lette r i n f o r m ed us late last year tha t
the f a m i l y benefits w i l l e nd in D e c e m b er of this year. Thi s i s really w o r ry o ur
family. I f the cut , c u r r e n t ly we h a ve to p ay $775 for the ren t a nd to i n c l u de ever y
things els e i t is about $900. W i t h th e f o o d stamps $400 it is just e n o u gh for o ur
family. I t h i nk i t is g o i ng to be v e ry difficul t fo r our family .
Let say if I go to work and I am not sure whether the job will provide the
health insuranc e fo r the family . O u r y o u n g e st c h i ld i s four. E i t h e r m y s e lf or my
w i f e have to be h o me t o taken care of the c h i l d r e n a nd by d o i ng thi s one p e r s on
w i l l no t b r i n g e n o u gh i n c o me back to s u p p o rt the family . C u r r e n t l y , the
c h i l d r e n attend schoo l a nd after school I h a ve to take t h em t o a d d i t i o n al E SL
classes, by the t i m e I c o me h o me ther e i s not tim e for me t o do a ny t h i ng else.
E v e n for m y s e lf that I w a nt to learn E n g l i sh to have a g o od p a y i ng job t o s u p p o r t
the f a m i l y o f seven i n c l u d i ng myself. I don't t h i nk that I w i ll abl e t o do so .
Mr. Dao Doan
Let sa y th e l a ws w i ll no t change , w h at w i ll h a p p en to y o u? th e answe r
here is that we w i l l be homeless a nd this w o u ld a p p l y fo r m o st refugees a nd
immigrants. E v e n w h at we ar e h a v i n g n ow thi s not enough . I n details w h at w e
are r e c e i v i n g n ow $300 per m o n th in f o od stamps, $1 per m e a l per p e r s o n a nd $2
per d ay per person . Le t say $1 for lunch, $1 for d i n n er a nd no breakfast. Th e total
of $700 in cash that we ar e r e c e i v i n g n ow a nd the ren t that we h a ve to p ay is $700
per m o n t h a nd not i n c l u d i n g a ny t h i ng (no gas, no electricity) .
Mr. Tran Truong
In genera l tha t th e l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n i s v e ry difficult . W i t h p e o p le lik e me ,
I have no transportation, I n e ed a car that i t is fairly g o od but ther e ar e t wo
problems. O n e tha t I don't h a ve the m o n ey a nd s e c o nd i f I h a ve the m o n ey to
b u y a fairly g o o d one (the one that runs) then the welfar e won' t allow. Fo r th e
car that a l l ow by the welfar e the n i t is easily b r e a k d o wn a nd it is e v en cost us
m u c h more. " I am poor . O n e p o or sit s on another p o or a nd I w i ll a l w a ys be
poor". L i k e t o d ay the weather is v e ry c o l d a nd we have no cars.
27
M s . T h a n h T hi N g u y e n
M y f a m i l y is v e ry w o r ry about the cut of the benefits now. I
h a ve a p p l i ed
for th e h o u s i ng fo r so l o n g a nd I h a ve been back a nd forth ? w i th the a p p l i c a t i o n
for m a ny times. M y c h i l d r e n are g r o w i ng u p a n d the y ge t u s ed to the l i v i n g
c o n d i t i o n here, there needs are m o re a nd m o r e each day. A t th e b e g i n n i ng w e
received $800 per m o n t h, it was d o w n to $700 a nd n o w i t is d o wn to $600 per
month. I don't k n ow h o w t o t u rn my lif e a r o u nd w i t h a l l the threat of the cuts.
I need to h a ve e n o u gh time t o m a ke the transitio n for the f a m i l y. T h i s is o n ly
w o r r y th e f a m i ly more. I really n e ed t o h a ve h o u s i ng t o m a ke the different .
We all need to have a longer transition time. This will help our families
w i t h peace of m i nd transitions . T h i s is g o od fo r a ll ethnic not jus t for
Vietnamese. E s p e c i a l l y for n e w ly a r r i v ed refugees an d thi s is not far e for them.
The refugee s need s to h a ve a t r a n s i t i o n point.
Mr. Chuigyn Chui
M y r e c o m m e n d a t i o n tha t the U.S. g o v e r n m e n t s h o u ld h a v e a separat e
p o l i c y for people lik e us. Thos e that served th e S o u th V i e t n a m e se a nd U.S .
g o v e r n m e n t s d u r i ng th e V i e t n am War . L e t say tha t a fi x a m o u nt per m o n t h ,
like the U.S. veteran s a n d th e c h i l d r en u n d er 15 year s of age. N o matte r what' s
the reason. I am o l d n ow a n d n o c o m p a n y w a n ts to hire me. T o d a y there are s o
m u c h changes of the welfare policies, I can't e v en keep up w i t h a l l the changes.
Mr. Tran Truong
A b o u t the food, there s h o u ld no t be cu t of the f o od stamps p o l i cy for those
n e w l y a r r i v ed people w i t h i n one o r t wo years . Thi s w i l l h e lp u s w i t h th e
transition time i n resettlement. A b o u t the health , the d e n t a l s h o u ld als o cove r
for a d u l t not just for the children. Ther e s h o u ld b e a reconsider of benefit p o l i cy
for th e V i e t n a m e se P o l i t i c a l Detainees. W e h a d b e i n P r i s on for m a ny years .
Ms. Linh Hua Phung
28
I h a ve three c h i l d r e n, the y o u n g e st is t wo a nd I h a ve to be h o me to taken
care of them. I n the m o r n i ng I h a ve to take the other t wo c h i l d r en to school a nd
i n t wo m o re years the welfare w i l l be cut. I
h a ve no car, n o t k n o w i ng h ow to
speak E n g l i sh I don't h ow o r w h at to do. I w i ll h a ve no m o n ey to p ay for the
rent. I n my cas e because my c h i l d r e n are too young. I f I s e nd my c h i l d to b a by sit ,
it w i ll cost me a t least $10 a d ay a nd I have not m o n ey to pay. I t h i nk the
c h a n g i n g of the p o l i cy i s n ot realistic.
Ms. Tu Nguyen
A b o u t the f o od stamps i s just enough. I h a ve to b u d g et v e ry tigh t on
b u y i n g the food. M y c h i l d r e n s o m e t i me the y don't d r i nk m i l k in the m o r n i ng
because there i s no m i lk left . T h e y generall y don't h a ve breakfast.
Mr. Dao Doan
I t h i nk the f o od stamps just about enough. $ 2 each d ay for a p e r s on a nd
w i t h thi s m u ch ther e won't e n o u gh fo r a n y o n e to be eating healthy. I am sur e
since the affect of the w e l f a re r e f o rm a l l V i e t n a m e se w a nt to h a ve h o u s i n g
because a l l of their cash w o u ld go t o w a rd the rent. B y h a v i ng h o u s i ng i t w i l l
help. T h e rent i s m u ch h i g h er c o m p a re to w h at the i n c o me c an b r i ng in . I f a ny
one able to solve or p ay the rent y ou w i ll solve 2/3 of y o ur p r o b l e ms in life . "I
can no t eat in one or t wo d a ys b ut I c an not stay outside for one or t wo days."
This i s real lif e i n the U.S. that w h en y ou are not able to p ay for th e rent the
police w i l l c o me a nd m o ve y ou a nd the l a n d l o rd has the right.
The question on whether they would recommend other from Vietnam to
come to the U.S.? M a n y of t h em a n s w e r e d N o, they wouldn't a d v i se p e o p le to
resettle i n the U.S. today. Becaus e life i s v e ry difficul t a nd there isn't e n o u g h
s u p p o r t f r om g o v e r n m e n t.
29
V i e t n a m e s e
United States
C o m m u n i t
y i
n
t h
e
V i e t n a m e s e C o m m u n i t
y i n th e U n i t e d State
s
The V i e t n a m e s e A m e r i c a n c o m m u n i t y i n the U n i t ed State s is a y o u n g
a n d a g r o w i ng c o m m u n i t y. Th e firs t b ig w a ve of V i e t n a m e se refugees a r r i v ed t o
the U.S . wa s righ t afte r the e nd o f the V i e t n am W ar i n A p r il of 1975. I n the late
1970's, the second w a ve of V i e t n a m e se refugees a r r i v ed t o the U.S. w h i c h wa s
the "Boa t People". I n the m id 1980's , the U n i t ed States C o n g r e ss p a s s ed a
legislation w h i ch w as th e H o me C o m i ng A ct w h i ch a l l o w ed the V i e t n a m e s e
A m e r a s i a n s a n d thei r f a m i l y m e m b e rs to c o me to the U.S. T h i s A m e r a s i a ns
w a v e was th e t h i rd wave. I n 1989, between th e U.S. a n d th e V i e t n a m e se
government m u t u a l l y agreed to a special projec t to resettle V i e t n a m e se P o l i t i c a l
Detainees a nd thei r f a m i l y m e m b e rs in the U.S. Th e Projec t i s the H u m a n i t a r i an
O p e r a t i o n ( H O) a n d thi s is the f o u r th wave .
The First Wave: the 1975, Vietnamese Refugees
The Vietnam War ended on April 30, 1975 when the Republic of Vietnam
(the S o u t h V i e t n a m) los t the w ar t o the V i e t n a m e se C o m m u n i s t (th e N o r th
Vietnam). R i g h t before a nd afte r the w ar wa s e n d e d h u n d r e d o f t h o u s a n ds of
Vietnamese f r o m the S o u th of V i e t n am fled thei r h o me land . A t the t i me they
d i d no t k n ow w h e re they w i ll e n d u p t o resettle. I n this firs t w a v e, the U n i t ed
States resettled abou t 250,000 V i e t n a m e se refugees . F r o m thi s w a v e, m a ny of
t h e m w e re h i gh r a n k i n g g o v e r n m e nt official s a n d thei r f a m i l y members. Th e
g o v e r n m e n t official s w e re those w ho h a d s e r v e d in the S o u th V i e t n a m e s e
m i l i t a r y o r w o r k ed f o r the A m e r i c an o r the S o u th V i e t n a m e se g o v e r n m e n t s
d u r i n g the V i e t n am War. T h e y w e re generally w e l l e d u c a t e d V i e t n a m e se a n d
w e r e f r om the u p p er e c o n o m i c clas s i n V i e t n a m. T h i s first w a ve of V i e t n a m e s e
came to the U.S. t o f i nd f r e e d om a n d m o s t of t h em resettle d i n the W e s t e r n
states of the U.S .
The Second Wave: the "Boat People"
A few years after the Vietnamese Communist took the South Vietnam,
life in V i e t n am u n d e r th e c o m m u n i st g o v e r n m e n t wa s v e r y d i f f i c u l t f or a ll
1
Vietnamese. I t w as e c o n o m i c a l l y, socially a nd p o l i t i c a l ly difficult . T h e i n f l a t i o n
g r e w d o u b le d i g it e v e ry year, p e o p le can't travel f r om cit y to city, the Vietnamese
C o m m u n i s t g o v e r n m e nt d e t a i n e d m a ny o f the S o u th V i e t n a m e s e g o v e r n m e n t
officers a nd there w as no f r e e d om to express y o ur p o l i t i c al v i e w s. Becaus e of the
l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n in V i e t n am afte r 1975 w as v e ry d i f f i c u lt that l ed to the "Boat
People" w a ve to leave V i e t n am i n the late 1970's. T h e "Boat P e o p l e" w e re the
Vietnamese refugees escaped V i e t n am by s m a ll a nd over c r o wd boats . I n this
second w a ve there w e re as m a ny as 250,000 Vietnamese resettle d in the U.S.
F r o m thi s w a v e, there w e re three g r o u ps of Vietnamese tha t t h ey escaped out of
V i e t n a m by boats: 1) the c h i l d r en of the S o u th V i e t n a m e se g o v e r n m e n t officer s
that they escaped o ut of V i e t n am w h i l e thei r fathers w e re in prisons; 2 ) the
c h i l d r e n or the families that c o u ld affor d to p ay for the h i gh cost of e s c a p i ng o ut
of V i e t n am a nd 3) the p e o p le that h ad access to boats or l i v ed on the coast line.
Generally, V i e t n a m e se f r o m the s e c o nd w a ve w e re p e o p le f r om th e m i d d le
economic class a nd w o r k i ng class people. M a n y of t h em w e re younger, college
a n d h i g h s c h o ol age, single a nd h a ve littl e p r o b l e ms of a d j u s t i ng to the n ew lif e
in America .
T h e T h i r d Wave: th e A m e r a s i a n s
In the m id 1980's, the U n i t ed State s Congress passed a legislation w h i ch
w a s the H o m e c o m i ng A ct to a l l ow the A m e r a s i a ns a nd their f a m i ly m e m b e rs to
come to the U.S. T h e A m e r a s i a ns are the c h i l d r en w e re b o rn d u r i ng the
V i e t n a m W ar a n d their parents are the A m e r i c an soldier s a nd the V i e t n a m e s e
women. T h i s w as the t h i rd V i e t n a m e se refugee s w a ve to resettle in the U.S.
Between the m id 1980's - 1995, there w e re o v er 100,000 A m e r a s i a ns a nd their f a m i l
People" w e re c o n t i n u ed to come. M a n y of the A m e r a s i a ns a nd their f a m i l y
m e m b e r s w e re un-educated i n V i e t n a m. Becaus e they didn't h a ve the same
o p p o r t u n i t i e s f or e d u c a t i on l i ke other Vietnamese. T h e y face d w i t h the
d i s c r i m i n a t i o n in V i e t n am becaus e the y l o ok differenc e f r om othe r V i e t n a m e se
youths. T h e y a nd their f a m i ly m e m b e rs w e re e c o n o m i c a l ly d i s a d v a n t a g ed in
V i e t n a m a nd w h en they are in the U.S. they h a ve no transferable job skills. I n
the U.S. this p o p u l a t i on needs m u ch longe r t i me to adjust a nd a d a pt to the n ew
life in A m e r i c a. T h e y n e ed m u ch m o re social service s u p p o r ts in health, m e n t al
health, education, job t r a i n i ng a nd job f i n d i n g .
2
T h e F o u r t h Wave: th e P o l i t i c al D e t a i n e es
In 1989 , b e t w e en th e U n i t ed State s a nd the V i e t n am g o v e r n m e n t s
m u t u a l l y agreed to a special project to resettle the V i e t n a m e se P o l i t i c a l Detainees
a n d thei r f a m i ly m e m b e rs in the U.S. I t is the H u m a n i t a r i an O p e r a t i on ( H O)
project. T h e V i e t n a m e se P o l i t i c a l Detainees ( V P D) are those w ho s e r v e d the
S o u t h V i e t n a m e se m i l i t a r y or w o r k ed f o r the S o u th V i e t n a m e se or the
A m e r i c a n g o v e r n m e n t s d u r i n g the V i e t n am War. A f t e r the w ar in 1975 the
V i e t n a m e s e C o m m u n i s t d e t a i n e d a ll r a n k i ng S o u t h V i e t n a m e se officers . T h e
sentence w as b e t w e en a f ew m o n t hs to 15 years. T h e resettlement b e g an in
January 1990 a nd it is c u r r e n t ly c o n t i n ue to resettle in s m a ll number. T h i s w a ve
resettles h u n d r ed o f t h o u s a n ds V i e t n a m e se refugees to the U. S. M a ny of the
V P D ar e h i g h ly e d u c a t ed a b o a rd a nd in V i e t n am a nd their c h i l d r en are also w e l l
educated. G e n e r a l l y , they are older in age a nd weaker i n health because m a ny of
t h e m w e re d e t a i n ed in labor c a m ps for m a ny years . O n th e other h a nd h i s w a ve
is m u ch m o re p o l i t i c a l ly activ e w i th the back h o me politic s becaus e of their past
association w i th th e S o u th V i e t n a m e se government . T h e V PD a n d thei r
spouses need m u ch m o re social service s u p p o r ts a nd especially in m e n t al healt h
because of their experiences in h a rd labor camps. M a n y of t h em h a v e
transferable job s k i l ls a nd they have les s of the p r o b l e ms in a d j u s t i ng a nd
a d a p t i n g to the n ew A m e r i c a n life .
Today Vietnamese Americans have resettled in every state of the United
States of A m e r i c a. M a n y V i e t n a m e se A m e r i c a n s ar e successful in jobs, in
schools a nd f u l f i l l i ng thei r A m e r i c an dreams . O n th e other h a nd ther e are m a ny
that stil l need m u c h m o re h e lp f r om governments a n d friends to b r e ak barrier s
to adjus t a nd a d a pt to the n ew life . E v e r y Vietnamese w ho live s in A m e r i ca has
some r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h V i e t n am a nd a ll relationships are special in their o w n
ways. S o m e are stil l r e m e m b e r i ng th e time they g r ew up in V i e t n am before
c o m i n g t o the U. S. S o me stil l have parents , brothers, sisters or relatives in
Vietnam. M a n y lef t V i e t n am w i t h o ut s a y i ng g o od b ye to their friends or their
s c h o o l mates .
3
S u p p o r t
M a t e r i a l
Vietnamese American Forum
s
f r o
m
t h
e
Vietnamese America
n Foru
m
Saturday, October 24,1998
U n i v e r s i t y of Massachusetts B o s t on
S n o w d e n A u d i t o r i u m , W h e a t l ey H a l l , 1st F l o or
100 M o r r i s s ey B l v d .
Boston, M A
8:00 - 8:45 am R e g i s t r a t i o
n
Coffee, Tea and Pastries
B a c k of S n o w d en A u d i t o r i u m , W h e a t l ey H a l l , 1st F l o or
8:45 - 9:00 Welcoming
S n o w d e n A u d i t o r i u m , W h e a t l ey H a l l , 1st F l o or
Chu Hie p
Coordinator, Institut e f or A s i an A m e r i c a n Studie s
U n i v e r s i t y o f Massachusetts Bosto n
Pham Van Nam
Director
Massachusetts Offic e f or Refugees an d Immigrant s
Opening Remarks
Ton-That A n
Director, Offic e o f Refugee and Immigran t Healt h
Bureau o f F a m i ly and C o m m u n i t y H e a l th
Massachusetts Departmen t o f P u b l ic H e a l t h
9:00 -10:00 General Panel I: Vietnamese American Community Social Issues
S n o w d e n A u d i t o r i u m , W h e a t l ey H a l l , 1st F l o or
Facilitator:
Tran V an T h a n h
Professor, Graduat e Schoo l of Social Work ,
Boston Colleg e
Panelists:
* Dr. T r i nh N g oc H o p, Psychiatrist
* C a r o l yn Do M ai
B i l i n g u a l Coordinator , Sout h Bosto n H i g h Schoo l
* Ton-That An
* N g h i em L an
C o m m u n i t y H e a l t h Advocat e
Vietnamese A m e r i c a n C i v i c Associatio n (Boston )
* H u y nh T r u o n g
Youth
10:00 -10:45 G e n e r a
l P a n el II: V i e t n a m e s e A m e r i c an C o m m u n i ty E c o n o m ic Issue s
S n o w d e n A u d i t o r i u m , W h e a t l ey H a l l , 1st F l o o r
Facilitator:
Bui Hoa n
Director, Healt h and Socia l Service s
Vietnamese A m e r i c a n C i v i c Associatio n (Boston )
Panelists:
* N g u y en H. L o n g
Executive Directo r
Vietnamese A m e r i c a n Initiativ e f o r Developmen t
* N g u y en N g oc H a nh Juliette
Executive Directo r
Springfield Vietnames e A m e r i c a n C i v i c Associatio n
* Le A n
Business O w n e r
10:45 -11:00 B r e a
k
B a c k of S n o w d en A u d i t o r i u m , W h e a t l ey H a l l , 1st F l o o r
11:00 -11:45 General Panel III: Vietnamese American Community Political Participation
S n o w d e n A u d i t o r i u m , W h e a t l ey H a l l , 1st F l o o r
Facilitator:
T r a n P h uc T r u o n g
Panelists:
* T r an Duc C a n h
Director, F u l l Employmen t Progra m
Massachusetts Dept . o f Transitional Assistanc e
* D i a ne (Diep ) H u y nh M c M a h o n
Vietnamese Liaiso n t o the Boston C i t y M a y o r
* P h am V a n N a m
Director
Massachusetts Offic e f or Refugees an d Immigrant s
11:45 -12:15 pm Open Discussion
S n o w d e n A u d i t o r i u m , W h e a t l ey H a l l , 1st F l o o r
Facilitator:
Tran V an Than h
12:30 -1:30 L u n c
h
W h e a t l e y Cafeteria , W h e a t l ey H a l l , 3 rd F l o or
1:30 - 3:00
B r e a k o u t Session s
S o c i a l Issues D i s c u s s i o n
R o o m 004 , W h e a t l ey H a l l , 1st F l o or
Facilitators:
* Ta K h a nh Y en
Coordinator
Service Cente r f or Former P o l i t i c a l Detainee s From Vietna m
Dorchester Hous e
* T r an V i n h H a n h
President, Boar d of Directors
Vietnamese A m e r i c a n C i v i c A s s o c i a t i o n
Economic Issues Discussion
R o o m 006 , W h e a t l ey H a l l , 1st F l o or
Facilitators:
* T r u o ng T h u y N g o c / M a r y
Vice Presiden t an d Team Leade r
C o m m u n i t y Developmen t G r o u p
BankBoston, F i r s t C o m m u n i t y Ban k
* N g u y en H. L o n g
Political Issues Discussion
R o o m 046 , W h e a t l ey H a l l , 1st, F l o or
Facilitators:
* T r an P h uc T r u o n g
* C a r o l yn D o M ai
3:00 - 3:15 Break
Back of S n o w d en A u d i t o r i u m , W h e a t l e y H a l l , 1st F l o or
3:15 - 4:00 pm Reporting Back & Closing
S n o w d e n A u d i t o r i u m , W h e a t l e y H a l l , 1st F l o or
Tran Can h
Director, F u l l Employmen t Progra m
Massachusetts Dept . o f Transitional Assistanc e
Vietnamese American Forum
Institute for Asian American Studies
University of Massachusetts Bosto n
100 Morrissey Boulevar d
Boston, MA 0212 5
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