History and Context
When the Vietnam War ended in 1975, Marin County, California, received the first wave of Vietnamese refugees. Ever since then, the Vietnamese American community had been woven into the fabric of Marin. Like many ethnic minorities in the United States, Vietnamese Americans in Marin have worked hard toward the American Dream. At the same time, their paths toward the American Dream are often challenged by racial discrimination, language barriers, poverty, and lack of access to education, healthcare, and affordable housing. Currently, the Vietnamese community in Marin account for only 0.5% of the county’s population, but has one of the most establish social welfare support networks for the Vietnamese ethnics in the United States.
Besides the external socio-economic challenges, many Vietnamese refugees, even after decades, are still haunted by their war-time experiences and the displacement from their homeland. The unhealed psychological trauma affect generations of their families–their children, and grandchildren. Furthermore, as the families strived to assimilate and succeed in the American mainstream society, younger generations are also rapidly losing their connections to the Vietnamese language and heritage. The Marin Vietnamese American Oral History Archive started in 2013 with the hope to document the life stories and wisdoms of the elders in the community as a way to re-establish connections between generations in the Vietnamese American families. We now also try to collect the perspectives of first and second generation children of Vietnamese refugees.
Oral History Collection Team
The project is a collaboration between Marin Asian Advocacy Project, Marin County Mental Health Services BRIDGE Program, and Dominican University of California Service-Learning Program.
Emily S. Wu