April 30 marked the 33rd anniversary of the fall of Saigon, which sent hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees abroad to create the kind of diaspora situation that this blog tries to capture.
I marked the anniversary by cooking a Viet meal and then watching the gut-wrenching Bolinao 52 documentary that aired on our local KTEH public TV station. My husband and I went through lots of tissues, wiping away tears and sniffles, as we learned about the horrific journey that one woman endured to get to the U.S. and her drive to find closure decades later. Let’s just say the "52" in the title refers to the number of people who survived.
The documentary underscored how fortunate my family was to be among the very fortunate to been airlifted from Vietnam in April 1975. We were and continue to be grateful.
These days, whenever I return to Vietnam, I think about what my life may have been like had we not been able to leave. For sure, it would have been difficult for many years but much better these days. Life is relatively stable and good in Vietnam, particularly in the cities, and there’s so much communication between here and there. It’s a transnational situation in which borders are blurred.
For example, last week, I was contacted by a reporter from Thanh Nien (which means "Youth"), a major national newspaper outlet in Vietnam. Van Anh wanted an story about my work, what I thought of the state of Vietnamese food in the United States and Vietnam, and about my cookbook, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen.
The interview process was nice but what I was impressed about was her worldly professionalism, English writing skills, and resourceful pluck. Van Anh could have been a Vietnamese American for all I knew. She uses a gmail account. Maybe she’s an American Vietnamese? There’s a new one for ya!
The article was published yesterday in Thanh Nien’s Kieu Bao (overseas) news section. You can read it online IF you read Vietnamese. Sorry.
In today’s San Jose Mercury News, which despite being decimated by recent layoffs, still has terrific, timely coverage of Vietnamese topics, there was a piece about how Silicon Valley Vietnamese Americans (called Viet Kieu) are making Saigon into a "Little San Jose" with their hi-tech start ups. (The Merc has a way of blocking access after a few days so access this soon or do a search for John Boudreau’s 5/18/08 piece.)
So much has changed in the past 33 years and given Vietnamese people’s hyper entrepreneurial spirit, there’s lots more to come.