The HCM City Department of Education and Training has opened a new programme to encourage high school students to study Vietnamese history more thoroughly.

From April 19 to May 20, 200 large banners with brief biographies of 24 famous Vietnamese figures, including Ho Chi Minh, Dang Van Ngu, Dao Duy Anh, Huynh Tan Phat, Le Duan and Le Duc Tho, will be hung at 14 high schools in the city.

The education and training department said that if the programme was effective it would be applied in all high schools in the city.

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VietNamNet Bridge – As part of a programme to teach people more about Vietnam’s history, HCM City’s Department of Culture and Information has decided to hang banners on Vietnamese female heroes on streets.

 

Findings of a survey done a little earlier in Ho Chi Minh City reveal that Vietnamese people there know very little about the country’s history. This has prompted the department of the city to launch a pilot project themed “Our people know our history”.

 

The project has been done under cooperation between the department, Focus Media Company and Saigon Postal Service Joint-stock Company.

 

At the first stage of implementation 611 banners have been hung to provide knowledge on who-is-who to tell people about Vietnamese female heroes in the past whose names have been used for streets in the city. The activity is also to celebrate Vietnam Women’s Day (October 20).

 

As reported, the project will be continued with hanging banners on important events such as February 3 (Foundation of Vietnam’s Communist Party, February 27 (Death anniversary of Hung Vuong, the first King of Vietnam). Biographic information of numerous Vietnamese heroes will be introduced to people aiming to provide more knowledge on the country’s history.

 

(Source: Tuoi Tre)

Monica Almeida/The New York Times

Yen Do, who worked for American reporters in Vietnam, founded a Vietnamese newspaper in California.

May 17, 2006

By SETH MYDANS, International Herald Tribune           

WESTMINSTER, Calif. — Even on his sickbed, Yen Do pushed himself forward, taking one more stab at mastering English grammar.

"I have returned to grammar 10 times," said Mr. Do, the founder of the country's oldest and largest Vietnamese-language newspaper. "Every year I returned to learn grammar. It became a bad habit."

Now it appears that grammar will elude him. At 64 he is weakening from kidney failure, diabetes and other ailments. Willpower may no longer be enough.

It has been a life created through sheer determination, following the arc of Vietnamese-American history from war to escape to renewal in an alien world.

Mr. Do was among the first refugees to arrive when Saigon fell in 1975 and soon began to publish a newspaper that helped define the refugee experience. With his newspaper, Nguoi Viet Daily News, Mr. Do, a courtly, cerebral man, became the steady, moderating core of this hyperactive refugee community known as Little Saigon.

He was the quintessential émigré editor, trying to bridge old and new cultures and seeming sometimes to infuriate almost everybody with his insistence on tolerance and even-handedness.

Mr. Do has been threatened, harassed and berated by groups who are still consumed by a war that in their minds has never ended.

There are now nearly 200,000 ethnic Vietnamese in Orange County, most of them living around the cluster of towns known as Little Saigon, 45 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Like other communities of immigrant refugees, Little Saigon seethes with feuds and factions.

In the intense early years, five Vietnamese-American journalists were killed in the United States, apparently by a radical anti-communist group. Mr. Do chose not to visit his mother in Vietnam before she died, fearing reprisals from those who oppose any contact with the country they had fled.

"They continue to fight with each other," he said of the Vietnamese refugees in an interview before his illness became critical.

"Many don't know how to deal with each other in peacetime," he said. "We need to educate them step by step to be part of the larger community. But to expect some of them to behave like normal immigrants, no way."

Mr. Do tried to lead by example. When new refugees arrived he sometimes gave them work to tide them over. If a would-be writer brought in a freelance article, he said, he paid for it even if he did not plan to use it.

And in offering benefits to the staff, he said: "I don't consider seniority. The more people are newcomers, the more they need help. It's not all about money."

From its start in 1978 as a four-page weekly, when shellshocked refugee families were flooding into the country, the paper's motto has been "Working together to survive."

In Little Saigon, the Vietnamese past is rooted in place, but an American future is transforming it into something increasingly different from its namesake. Mr. Do is himself an artifact of the past, and in his own family and newspaper he has participated in that transformation.

At its start, the paper was filled with news from home as well as with crucial how-to's about welfare, driver's licenses, insurance, mortgages and parent-teacher conferences. It has swelled into a full-color daily with a circulation of nearly 18,000 that has spawned a magazine, a radio station and the Vietnamese yellow pages.

Mr. Do continued giving away stock options in the paper, reducing rates on death notices for the poor, providing lunches to his staff for just $20 a month, hiring out-of-work artists and writers and even giving thousands of dollars in seed money to those who wanted to start rival publications. Nguoi Viet also rents space in its building to other media operations.

As his health has failed him, his daughter, Anh Do, 39, a journalist trained in American-style objectivity, has played an increasing role at the newspaper he built.

A columnist at The Orange County Register, Ms. Do is also chief financial officer of Nguoi Viet and editor of Nguoi Viet 2, a new English-language weekly section intended for her own generation of Americanized Vietnamese.

"The young generation brings change, that's the happy part of the story," the father said. "They change by refusing to copy the older generation."

His daughter's career has been with American newspapers, which do not share Nguoi Viet's tangled culture of mutual help, flexible rules and the imperatives of long-running friendships and enmities.

"She considers almost everyone the same," Mr. Do said, describing the culture clash. "That's what she has been taught in this society: give and take, fair is fair. I take the community approach. We treat newcomers more gently than oldcomers. That's fair."

His daughter said she relishes the debates she has with her father over the different paths they take toward what she called their "shared goal — to empower our community."

"I often see things in black and white, especially in the beginning," she said. "Now I'm more flexible, but I think it's still important to adapt modern American management to a traditional Vietnamese company."

The son of a funeral flower-shop owner, Mr. Do was caught up in politics in elementary school, "following along" on demonstrations against Vietnam's French colonial rulers.

In his teens he became a leader of the protests until he was arrested, briefly jailed and expelled from high school — a trauma that can still bring tears to his eyes.

He spent the next years educating himself in libraries and was politically active again until he became disillusioned by the manipulation of idealistic students and religious groups.

"Finally, I understood what politics is," he said. "Politics is a game, and I saw no way, no exit. So I told myself never to do politics again. Never, never, never. I would use my strength for social reform."

Journalism offered a home to "vagabonds" like himself, he said, and soon he was a war correspondent, covering some of the most dangerous engagements on the battlefield. In the final weeks, he worked as an assistant to American reporters from papers like The Boston Globe and The Chicago Tribune. His pay was less than 40 cents a day.

And then the North Vietnamese army was at the gates of Saigon, he said, and "I saw my world collapse." He, his wife and three children caught one of the last flights from the country. A fourth child was born in the United States.

In the enforced quiet of his illness, before it finally sapped his strength, Mr. Do said he thought back over his early life and realized how long a road he had traveled. In his thoughts, he said, "I recognize again my teenage spirit, when I taught myself that I could do anything."

1975: Saigon surrenders

April 30, 2006

 


The war in Vietnam ended today as the government in Saigon announced its unconditional surrender to the Vietcong. The President, Duong Van Minh, who has been in office for just three days, made the announcement in a radio broadcast to the nation early this morning. He asked his forces to lay down their arms and called on the Vietcong to halt all hostilities.

In a direct appeal to the Communist forces, he said: "We are here to hand over to you the power in order to avoid bloodshed."

The announcement was followed swiftly by the arrival of Vietcong troops. Their entrance was virtually unopposed, confounding predictions of a bloody and protracted last-ditch battle for the city.

War ends

The front line of tanks smashed through the gates of the presidential palace within minutes, and at 1130 local time (0330 GMT), decades of war came to an end.

Vietcong troops, many barefoot and some no more than teenagers, rounded up government soldiers, and raised their red and blue flags. The looting which has ravaged the city over the last 24 hours stopped, and power was restored later in the day. Only the United States embassy remained closed and silent, ransacked by looters.

Saigon was immediately renamed Ho Chi Minh City. A statement by the Provisional Revolutionary Government, or PRG, in Paris, promised a policy of non-alignment, and the peaceful reunification of Vietnam.

The British government is now urgently reviewing the possibility of recognising the PRG. France has already recognised the new regime, and other Western countries are preparing to follow suit.

Frenzied evacuation

The capitulation of the South Vietnamese government came just four hours after the last frenzied evacuation of Americans from the city. President Ford, who has requested humanitarian aid for the Vietnamese, let it be known that he was proud to have saved what Vietnamese he could in the last, frantic helicopter evacuation.

But there is said to be deep humiliation in the United States government at the desperation and chaos of the final hours of America's presence in Vietnam.

The President ordered United States ships to remain indefinitely off the Vietnamese coast to pick up refugees: but even this gesture has been snubbed by the North Vietnamese, who have prevented any more refugees from fleeing.

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Watch/Listen

Vietnamese trying to get into the American embassy compound

The final hours of America's presence in Vietnam were marked by desperation and chaos


"So near, and yet so far": The BBC's Michael Sullivan tries to escape

Newsdesk reporters with eyewitness accounts of the American evacuation



In Context

In the immediate aftermath of the fall of Saigon, the Communist forces held victory parades and placed posters of Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Viet Minh, on public buildings. While most South Vietnamese were relieved at the end of the war, some who remained loyal to President Thieu committed suicide.

North and South Vietnam were reunified under communist rule in 1976. Ten years later, the government relaxed its regime, allowing elements of market forces and private enterprise to flourish.

There is still, however, opposition within the Vietnamese government to too much economic liberalisation.

In November 2000, President Bill Clinton visited Vietnam. It was hoped that this would be the culmination of US efforts to normalise relations with its former enemy.

Teaching the Beaucarnot Diaries: Vietnamese and French Culture and Society under Colonialism and Beyond

A Colloquium with David Del Testa, Assistant Professor of History, Bucknell University

A presentation of the website “Adieu Saigon, Au Revoir Hanoi: The 1943 Vacation Dairy of Claudie Beaucarnot” at http://www.bucknell.edu/Beaucarnot/ designed as a tool for students and teachers to explore the world of Vietnam during French colonialism. This on-line source presents a new primary source for French colonial Indochina while illustrating undergraduate research stemming from it.

David Del Testa is Assistant Professor of History at Bucknell University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis, writing a dissertation on “’Paint the Trains Red’: Labor, Nationalism, and the Railroads in French Colonial Indochina, 1898-1945.” In 2000 he served as Director of the University of California Education Abroad Program in Vietnam. Before moving to Bucknell he taught at UCLA and California Lutheran University. It was a Cal Lutheran project that led him to return to Vietnam with a group of students and to retrace the route of Claudie Beaucarnot.

Date: Monday, April 10, 2006

Time: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

10383 Bunche Hall
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Cost: Free and open to the public.
Special Instructions

Parking at UCLA’s Lot 3 costs $8.

For more information please contact

Barbara Gaerlan
Tel: 310-206-9163
cseas@international.ucla.edu
http://www.international.ucla.edu/cseas/

Posted by: Center for Southeast Asian Studies

Sponsor(s): Center for European and Eurasian Studies, Center for Southeast Asian Studies

Their skeletons, our closet Print
Written by Cody Powell   
Thursday, 23 March 2006

U of S librarian catalogues declassified CIA documents

The first presentation in the Library Lecture Series saw the launch of a new web-based resource that contains a massive collection of declassified CIA documents from the Vietnam war.  
   
Vinh-The Lam is the man responsible for the construction of this new web-based research catalogue. He was born in South Vietnam and graduated from Saigon University in 1963, just prior to the start of American military involvement in Vietnam.  After earning his first degree, he moved to New York, where he completed a Masters in Librarian Studies in 1973.  The following year, he returned to the Saigon to become head of the Library department at the Saigon University.  A year later, Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese and the Americans began their evacuation. 
   
After the war, Mr. Lam spent four years trying to leave the country along with thousands of refugees.  By 1981 he was able to emigrate to Canada where he was involved in several libraries before joining the University of Saskatchewan’s special collections department.
   
Lam’s personal connection to this historic war has inspired him to compile this database, which is now available through the library’s online resource section.  In co-operation with the Information Technology Service Department, Lam has been able to coherently compile thousands of documents published by the CIA during the war.  Although it would be nearly impossible to post every document released during the war, Lam has made an amazing effort in collecting and posting thousands of CIA documents that have now been declassified.
   
Lam gave a public lecture last Wednesday on how the database can be utilized. The advanced search engine contains several options: the open term selection is capable of locating any document containing the chosen term;  this applies to personal names such as political officials, military officers, and leaders.  It can also locate place names including regions, provinces, and districts.  Lastly, the general term search includes specific combat units and names of certain battles. 
   
Another advanced search option is the classification of document types, this includes “Confidential”, “Secret”, and “Top Secret”.  Don’t get too excited though.  For those of you who thought that this meant you would have access to America’s declassified dirty little secrets, you will be disappointed to learn that a vast portion of the documents released have been ‘sanitized’.  This means that any potentially damaging information has been blacked out of the document.  This potential problem is also considered in the search option, which allows you to restrict the search to documents that remain clean.  (Of course the thrill of trying to decipher America’s little white lies and best-kept secrets in a completely blacked out paragraph is half the fun for any half-baked conspiracy nut.)
   
A final and immensely helpful addition to the website are the provided abstracts and summaries, allowing one to get an overview of the document before you dive into a military briefing that might be 30 pages long. 
   
Vinh-The Lam’s contribution to the university database collection is a powerful tool of research and will benefit many students  (especially many paranoid schizophrenics who think they are being watched by the CIA).

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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