Vietnamese Cinema celebrates its 55th birthday


Nhan Dan – Vietnamese cinema celebrated its 55th birthday on March 14 in Hanoi.

Over the past 55 years, the sector has made various contribution to the cause of national development and defense. Many films have left good impressions on viewers. Many works have received notable prizes, and become precious historical archives.

The same day, the Vietnam Photographic Art Association celebrated its 55th birthday. On this occasion, the Hanoi People’s Committee has agreed on the construction of a national photographic archive and exhibition centre, which will be operational in 2010.

Lynn students to bring food to poverty-stricken Vietnamese school

Published March 14th, 2008By Dale M. King

Lynn University senior Danielle Bissett still remembers the study trip she and fellow students took to Southeast Asia last year.

In fact, she said, it’s an experience that’s hard to forget.

Bissett was part of a group of Lynn students who joined Lynn professors Robert Seifer and Charles Barr for what she called a “life-changing” academic trip in July 2007 that crisscrossed Vietnam and Cambodia.

During the almost two weeks of travel, students ate and meditated with Buddhist monks; joined a Vietnamese family for a six-course meal and toured the death camps and killing fields of Cambodia.

But it was the day in Phnom Penh and its sprawling municipal dumpsite that impacted the group most.

The Lynn students walked the dump on one of the first days in the country. They watched as desperate residents picked through the trash heaps, pulling out food, clothing and other discarded items.

And they visited a small schoolhouse on the edge of the dump, built to educate the children of those people who subsist off the site.

During the visit, Lynn students handed out what they could, but left wishing they could do more.

Today, they are working to do just that.

Bissett, who will graduate this May, has joined with her professors and more than a dozen classmates to raise $15,000 to take back to Cambodia when they return there this summer.

This semester, students are working to raise money to provide a year’s worth of rice to the school when a new group of students returns there this summer.

In recent weeks, the first of several fundraising projects kicked off as seniors Brittany Rudich and Amy Mandel started making and selling red bracelets on campus. By March 1, the two had almost single-handedly raised more than $600.

And more student projects are just getting started – with all proceeds going to the nonprofit Vulnerable Children’s Assistance Organization that runs the school outside the Stung Meanchey dumpsite.

Seifer, who spent more than a year planning the original trip, is leading his second this summer. “The power of studying abroad,” he said, “is illustrated perfectly in the reaction of last year’s students. Not only were their eyes opened to a culture they’d not experienced before, but they got to know specific people and see the challenges they face firsthand.”

“At Lynn, we talk a lot about providing our students with a global perspective,” Seifer said. “Through trips like this, we’re allowing our students to see the real world – the global world.”

Jackie Montoya, a senior psychology major, called the trip “one of the most humbling experiences of my life – and most challenging too” as students bathed out of basins and draped their cots in mosquito nets some nights.

“The first few days, we were even brushing our teeth with bottled water,” she said. But it didn’t take long for everyone’s perspective to change, she said. “By the end of the trip we weren’t scared about the water– and we’d eat just about anything” including, for a few brave souls, cricket legs that tasted like “unbuttered, unsalted popcorn.”

“I felt very fortunate to be there with these students and see them learning things firsthand,” Seifer says of the experience. “It felt like we were cultural ambassadors.”

This summer’s trip will differ from last year’s, as students will return to Cambodia for visits at mental health facilities and Buddhist retreats, but will forgo Vietnam for Thailand, where they will meet with mental health providers and visit psychiatric hospitals, among other things.

But most pressing in students’ minds at this point: a trip back to the dump, the school on its outer border and the children they’re working hard to feed through their efforts.

“I think it was a new experience for everybody,” said Bissett. “I really had no idea what I was getting into, but it ended up being the best experience of my life.”

Robert Seifer’s class and students are soliciting donations for the Vulnerable Children’s Assistance Organization to support the Phnom Penh school. Anyone interested in contributing can contact Seifer directly at or by calling 561-237-7447.

Little Saigon activists tell USC to take down Vietnam flag

University officials say the flag of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam outside a campus building conforms to state and United Nations standards; activists say they are ready to launch a protest if it is not removed

The Orange County Register

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WESTMINSTER Activists from Little Saigon say they are putting the University of Southern California on notice over a Socialist Republic of Vietnam flag that flies on campus.


Flags at USC
Should USC remove or replace the official flag of Vietnam with the red and yellow flag of the expatriate community in California?
Remove the flag
Replace it
Leave it alone

Three activists – Hung Nguyen, An Son Tran and Tung X. Nguyen – approached an employee of the University Relations department on campus last week to make an official request that the school remove what is perceived as the communist flag by Vietnamese Americans or replace it with the red and yellow former South Vietnamese flag.

“The red and yellow flag is the official flag of the Vietnamese American community,” Hung Nguyen said. “The university has hundreds if not thousands of students from our community and they should honor our sentiments about the flag.”

But USC officials don’t plan to remove or replace the flag, said university spokesman James Grant.

USC is among the nation’s most diverse campuses and has thousands of international students attending, Grant said. So far, no student has complained about this particular flag, he said.

“The flags have been in our main building for a long time,” he said. “They were made to conform to state and United Nations standards. We see no need to take them down.”

The activists approached Irvine Valley College last month with a similar request. The college took down its entire exhibit of miniature flags from 144 countries after Westminster Councilman Andy Quach and Garden Grove Councilwoman Dina Nguyen and the activists objected to the presence of the communist flag in the exhibit.

Hung Nguyen said he and others intend to visit all California’s campuses and urge them to remove the communist flag.

The Union of Vietnamese Student Associations, based in Garden Grove, also sent out a letter to USC two weeks ago after a Vietnamese American student there told them about the flag, said Bao Mai, a senior member of the student union.

“We have a good community of Vietnamese students, a few hundred, in USC,” he said. “We don’t want to see a large-scale protest happen there. We want to resolve the issue before that.”

But the students union would certainly join in a protest if it happens because USC has a Vietnamese Student Association on campus and is a member of the union, Mai said.

Hung Nguyen said community members from Little Saigon will attempt to have a discussion with top USC officials to make them see why the local Vietnamese American community is extremely sensitive to the issue.

The rapidly growing Little Saigon community is primarily composed of refugees who fled Vietnam in the ’70s and ’80s after the communist takeover in that country in 1975.

“Our first step is to give them the information,” he said. “The second step is to have a discussion between our Vietnamese elected officials and university officials to see if they will take down the communist flag. Our last resort will be to protest the university’s approach to this issue.”

Quach said he has not been approached by Nguyen to talk to university officials.

“It is of course at the discretion of the university, but I don’t think the university understands the political and emotional implications of their decision,” he said.

Quach said he might send them a video tape of the 1999 protest of a Little Saigon video store owner who displayed a large banner of Ho Chi Minh outside his store. Thousands thronged outside the store in protest.

“The video will show them how strongly anti-communist this community is and how strongly we feel about it,” Quach said.

Grant said the university respects the community’s sentiments about their flag.

“They do have their right to express their feeling and opinions,” he said. “But I don’t think we did anything wrong by flying that flag. It is Vietnam’s official flag.”

Contact the writer: 714-445-6685 or


A maintenance worker passes by the Vietnam flag, top center, that hangs high with other national flags at the von KleinSmid Center for International & Public Affairs at USC.


Vietnamese representative chosen for Miss Tourism 2008
Model Chung Thuc Quyen  

Model Chung Thuc Quyen will represent Vietnam at the Miss Tourism Queen International 2008 Beauty Contest, to be held in China next month.

She will leave Sunday for the event, which will take place at Henna International Expo Center in Zhengzhou China on April 10.

Quyen was born in 1987 and won the title of “Miss Photogenic” at the Miss Vietnam Beauty Pageant in 2005.

She appears frequently in fashion magazines and on the catwalks of Ho Chi Minh City.

In preparation for the contest, fashion designer Dung Nguyen, under the trade name Laura V, has created some 40 outfits for Quyen including a gala evening gown and a disco queen ensemble.

Another important sub-contest is the online Miss Popularity portion.

The winner of this component will automatically advance to the final round comprising 15 contestants.

The annual pageant is slated to be one of the most popular events in China this year with participation from over a hundred contestants from around the world.

Pageant hopefuls will also have the opportunity to showcases their unique cultures and promote tourism in their home countries.

It will be the fifth time Vietnam has had a representative at a Miss Tourism Queen International contest.

The event is not only an opportunity to honor the unique characteristics of Vietnamese women, but also to highlight the country’s global integration, especially in the area of tourism.

Supporters can vote for Quyen at

Reported by Hai Vy

Vietnam echoes in a San Jose feud


Joanne Ho-Young Lee / San Jose Mercury News
PROTEST: Thousands of Vietnamese from all over California, including Le Tu, left, of Orange County and Tuan Nguyen of San Bernardino, rally in front of San Jose City Hall in support of the Little Saigon name earlier this month.
Selecting a name for a business district sparks emotional debate and tests the mettle of a young councilwoman.
By My-Thuan Tran, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
March 22, 2008

SAN JOSE — The protesters gathered outside City Hall, marking another day of anger. They waved South Vietnamese flags, yelled into bullhorns and held signs saying “No Democracy in San Jose.” Down the street, a fellow activist was on Day 19 of his hunger strike.

Eighteen floors above the spectacle, Madison Nguyen attended to city business. From her office, the chants of “Down with Madison” or the placards with a slash drawn across her smiling face couldn’t be seen or heard. But the repercussions can be felt everywhere in San Jose’s Vietnamese community.

Fight over a name

Photo Gallery


Only months earlier, Nguyen was embraced as the beloved daughter of the ethnic community. Now, some constituents are calling her a traitor and communist sympathizer.

“My only intent was to bring a positive image to the Vietnamese,” said Nguyen, 33. “I didn’t know I was opening up a big can of worms.”

San Jose’s Vietnamese community has been torn for more than eight months over what to name the city’s first Vietnamese shopping district, a decision that might seem mundane if not for the fact that it cuts to the deepest sensibilities in one of the country’s largest Vietnamese American communities.

Nguyen’s popularity began to plunge when she suggested the area be named Saigon Business District rather than Little Saigon, a name that to many here is a powerful symbol of defiance to the Vietnamese communist regime and one that would link them arm and arm with other Vietnamese enclaves that have adopted the name.

The councilwoman’s position — a compromise selected from half a dozen suggestions — was taken as an insult.

The street protests that followed underscored again that the rules of politics are different for a Vietnamese American politician, who must navigate the lingering emotions of a community still defined by the Vietnam War.

Even business owners, reporters, and pop singers carefully tiptoe around inferences and innuendo that can cast a person as being soft on communism.

A misstep can launch vocal protests and accusations; reputations can be tarnished. Most bow to the pressure.

Madison Nguyen, however, has played her hand differently. She said she was willing to risk votes and upset constituents to exert her political independence.

It’s a risky gambit in places such as San Jose and Orange County, where Vietnamese American politicians rely on the ethnic community as their base and where the mood is colored by the loudest voices.

Fled Vietnam

Like many of her critics, Nguyen escaped Vietnam in the late 1970s. She was 4.

Her family eventually migrated to Modesto, where Nguyen and her eight siblings helped her parents pick cherries and apricots after school. While attending UC Santa Cruz, Nguyen skipped classes to protest with farm workers for higher wages.

Nguyen became a history major and changed her name from Phuong to Madison to honor former president James Madison.

She started a doctoral program studying the evolution of the Vietnamese American community. She won a seat on the Franklin-McKinley school board in San Jose and became the city’s first Vietnamese American councilwoman in 2005.

Her eagerness to be independent and to strike compromises has rubbed some the wrong way.

She believes the Vietnamese community is going through “growing pains” and at times lacks an understanding of how local government works, but some see Nguyen as young, immature, failing to be deferential.

“I feel that when [Vietnamese] people look at me, they feel that I am their daughter instead of an elected official,” she said.

Two organizations team up for Asian Awareness Week

The Asian American Student Association and the Vietnamese American Student Association are hosting the fourth annual Asian Awareness Week today through Friday.

“It’s one of the bigger events of the organization that carry outs our organization’s objective of spreading Asian-American awareness,” said AASA Treasurer Jeric Young.

Asian Awareness Month is normally held in May in conjunction with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which former President George H. W. Bush dedicated in the 1990s, according to a March 2006 O’Collegian article.

Instead of celebrating Asian awareness in May, members from AASA and VASA chose a week in March to involve more students because the spring semester ends in May, Vijayakumar said.

In the past, about 35 students have attended the activities hosted by AASA and VASA, according to the O’Collegian article.

AASA is preparing to go to the Midwest Asian American Student Union Conference at Kansas University on March 28-30.

Although AASA and VASA are different organizations, they collaborate on events that represent Asians in general, AASA Secretary Ryan Shannon said. These events include the Lunar Moon Festival and Multicultural Day, he said.

For this year’s awareness event, AASA is trying to bring in comedian Eliot Chang to perform in the Starlight Terrace, AASA President Dee Dee Ho said.

Chang has been on Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,” NBC’s “Law and Order” and Spike TV’s “Crash Test,” according to AASA’s Web site.

AASA is planning an Asian dinner and charging students about $3 to pay for the rental space for the comedy show and food, Ho said.

The Vietnamese Student Association is planning to host an open forum, Vijayakumar said. Affirmative action was discussed at a past forum, according to 2006 O’Collegian archives.

AASA also will host a movie night, featuring a film that represents Asian culture, Ho said.

Insuring success: One man’s story
Lam Hai Tuan, CEO of ACE Life Vietnam, is looking forward to bringing the best life insurance products to his fellow citizens  

A Vietnamese-American left 19 years of success in the US and returned to his homeland to fulfill his desire to provide the best possible insurance products to his fellow citizens.


Lam Hai Tuan started a new and independent life when he migrated to the US alone as a 15-year-old.

He has strived tirelessly and driven by a fierce determination to be a successful man in the US

“A migrant must double and even triple every effort to gain success in the US even though he is not inferior to his local colleagues at work,” Tuan said.

As he worked, Tuan’s special affinity for life insurance grew and he came to believe it was essential for everyone.

He won many awards while working for Metlife, including the prestigious “Man of the Year” title and a bronze medal from the International Insurance Association.

After 19 years with Metlife, Tuan had had a bright future with the company.

But he also saw a new challenge for himself.

He decided to leave Metlife in October 2002 to become an advisor for Prudential of America, focusing on Asian markets.

He remained at Prudential for 15 months, preparing himself for a return to his homeland.

Tuan returned to Vietnam on August 5, 2003, two years before Vietnam’s life insurance market reached two important milestones.

Realizing his goals

In 2005, during his historic visit to the US, then-Prime Minister Phan Van Khai awarded a license to Tuan’s employer, ACE Life.

The second insurance industry milestone was ACE Life Vietnam’s opening ceremony on December 2 of that year.

Now the CEO of ACE Life Vietnam, Tuan has been fulfilling his vision of setting up a 100 percent foreign-owned company with 100 percent Vietnamese staff.

“Vietnamese are not inferior to anybody in the world,” Tuan said.

“Our country has created many talents and they are tiny diamonds. The matter now is to gather them together and make it a shining jewel to maximize its inner strength.”

Based on this philosophy, Tuan recruited talented young Vietnamese staff from many different sectors.

They now work together in harmony, united behind the company motto: “creating opportunities for Vietnam’s younger generation.”

To reaffirm his commitment to Vietnam, Tuan has decided to sell all his possessions in the US as he furthers his dream of bringing in the best insurance products to his fellow-citizens in Vietnam.

And so far, Tuan seems to be finding a good measure of success.

ACE Life’s Universal Life product, launched in March 2006, was well-received by customers, with sales rising a stunning 320 percent last year.

Tuan sees the popularity of the product as a testament to customers’ trust in Vietnam’s life insurance sector.

Through his professionalism and insurance expertise, Tuan has won the respect of ACE Life Vietnam’s 4,300 account representatives.

Vietnamese culture in an American company

Tuan has stuck to his vision of running an American company, 100 percent staffed by Vietnamese with a Vietnamese spirit and culture.

The ACE Life Vietnam CEO reminds thousands of his employees every day of the ethical code of conduct in the life insurance industry.

The code ensures fairness for clients, employees, account representatives and ACE Life Vietnam.

“There is still a long way for me to go with ACE Life Vietnam and I must get it done successfully to complete my life’s desire, no matter how hard it is,” Tuan said.