A Vietnamese-American details key events to shape 2006

March 16, 2006

A Vietnamese-American details key events to shape 2006

Mr. Vu Duc Vuong (Source: TTO)

A Vietnamese-American teacher and writer has provided Thanh Nien with an account of events that are to shape the development of being Vietnamese, at home and abroad.

The following is an article by Vu Duc Vuong, written for VIET USA:

For Vietnamese-Americans, the Year of Dog bounded in, full of energy and activity, with new voices of a Vietnamese identity that is still evolving, on both sides of the Pacific.

In the United States, the major event this year will take place in San Francisco on March 24-26: Vietnam Now – Mot Thoang Viet Nam – a festival whose bi-lingual name illustrates the cooperation between the leadership of Ho Chi Minh City and its sister city – San Francisco, and the joint effort among Vietnamese artists and business people in Vietnam, with their counterparts in the US. 

The three-day festival will feature exhibits and demonstrations of Vietnamese arts, food, poetry, businesses, fashion, films, contemporary and traditional music.  These exhibits are to be complemented by nightly performances at the Cowell Theater and daily seminars on a wide range of topics dealing with trade, law, hi-tech and culture in Vietnam.  More information is available at www.myvietnamnow.com.

Several conferences, on or about Vietnamese themes, are being planned: Vietnamese-Americans are putting together a “discussion” between Vietnamese inside and outside of the country on their future relationship, to be held in Washington in April. 

The US National Archives and Presidential Libraries will host a two-day conference on Vietnam and the Presidency, on March 10-11 at the JFK Library which will assemble an American contingent of delegates, without Vietnamese participation. 

Vietnamese-Americans of all political stripes want to be involved, unhappy with the exclusion of Vietnamese views from this process.  The William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Its Social Consequences, also in Boston, launched a People’s Conference: “Vietnam: Looking Forward, Looking Back”, offering a venue where the voices of those who have experienced the consequences of Presidential decision-making may be heard.

The National Association for the Education and Advancement of Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese Americans (NAFEAhttp://www.nafeaonline.org) will hold its 26th national conference in Washington, D.C., April 28-29.  This conference is the longest, continuous annual event dealing with languages, cultures and the adjustment process of refugees and immigrants from Southeast Asia.

In the Bay Area, the Southeast Asian Center at UC-Berkeley is hosting a seminar on “Vietnam Studies: States of the Field” on April 6. 

The Center is also launching the “Journal of Vietnamese Studies”, an academic journal published by UC Press and co-edited by Peter Zinoman (UCB) and Mariam Beevi Lam (UC Riverside). 

The VANG (Vietnamese American National Galawww.vangusa.com) will hold its third annual Golden Torch Award event, from May 4-7, in San Francisco.

In Texas, the Vietnam Center at the University of Texas at Lubbock will hold its 2006 annual conference on March 17-18, with the theme “ARVN: Reflections and Reassessments after Thirty Years.”

In Vietnam, some of the more significant events of this year are: the Tenth Congress of the Communist Party, which has taken place at local levels since late last year, culminating this summer in the election of a new leadership team for the next five years.  

If all goes well, Vietnam is also scheduled to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) this fall, a move that help the country to align its trade, legal and economic system with others around the world.

In November, Vietnam will host the Asian Pacific Economic Conference (APEC – http://www.apec2006.vn) in Hanoi. Among the heads of state attending will be the President of the United States, who will be the second to visit this former adversary since the end of the war. 

In June of last year, the Prime Minister of Vietnam paid a state visit to the US, cementing normalized relations that Bill Clinton put in place ten years earlier, culminating in his visit to Vietnam at the turn of the millennium.

Lastly, a fresh voice arose above the din of firecrackers in the early days of this New Year, and has been dominating the Vietnamese-language air waves as well as the cyber space. Pham Quynh Anh, an 18-year-old Belgian of Vietnamese origin, struck an abiding note within the second generation, with her song Bonjour Vietnam (Hello Vietnam). 

Let’s close with her refrain:

What I know of you is only war photographs

Scenes from Coppola’s film, helicopters spewing fury

One day I’ll go there, one day, to say “hello” to my soul

One day I’ll go there to tell you “Good morning, Vietnam.”

Vu Duc Vuong,  VIET USA

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