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UCI-OC Parks exhibition celebrates diversity of Vietnamese American experience

August 19, 2015
UCI-OC Parks exhibition celebrates diversity of Vietnamese American experience
UCI’s Vietnamese American Oral History Project and OC Parks are hosting an eight-month exhibition of photos, artwork and oral histories to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the influx of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants into the US. Courtesy of Hung Pham

EVENT: UCI’s Vietnamese American Oral History Project and OC Parks present “Vietnamese Focus: Generations of Stories,” an interactive art and history exhibition that captures the compelling and complex Vietnamese experience before, during and after the Vietnam War. Utilizing photos, documents, oral histories, artifacts and artwork, the eight-month exhibition commemorates the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the influx of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants into the U.S., particularly Orange County. Accompanying the exhibition will be special programming, such as speakers, performances, presentations and educational workshops for all age groups.

WHEN/WHERE: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday through February 2016
10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday (only available on Aug. 22, Sept. 19, Oct. 17, Nov. 14, Dec. 19 and Jan. 23)

Old Orange County Courthouse
211 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Third Floor
Santa Ana, Calif. 92701

INFORMATION: The exhibition and all related events are free and open to the public. One-hour metered parking is available at the Old Orange County Courthouse and on surrounding streets. Nearby lots and structures offer longer-term parking. For a map, click here. For more information about the exhibition, media interviews or group tours, contact Linda Trinh Vo at voltuci@gmail.com or Tram Le at tramleuci@gmail.com.

HIGHLIGHTS: Grand opening celebration: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, with official ceremony at 1 p.m., featuring Vo, director of UCI’s Vietnamese American Oral History Project; Le, associate director of the project; and Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do (1st District)

BACKGROUND: Vietnamese Americans have lived in extraordinary times, surviving war, displacement and resettlement. “Vietnamese Focus: Generations of Stories” showcases the diversity of Orange County’s Vietnamese community, the largest outside Vietnam. The exhibition is informed by a new book, Vietnamese in Orange County (Arcadia Publishing, 2015), by Vo, Le and Thuy Vo Dang, the UCI Libraries’ archivist for the Southeast Asian Archive and regional history.

Vo, professor of Asian American studies at UCI as well as VAOHP director, said: “This exhibition presents highlights of the development and transformation of the Vietnamese American community in Orange County. We want to show that there is no singular story that represents our experiences.” Le added: “Many Vietnamese families had to destroy photographs and documents in order to survive during the war and their migration to the U.S., so we are fortunate to be able to collect invaluable artifacts and share them in this exhibition.”

Trinh Mai, the VAOHP artist-in-residence, created original artwork for the exhibition that aims to embrace her ancestral roots, as well as help excavate the history of the Vietnamese in America. “For some time now, my work has been dedicated to sharing my family’s history,” she said. “This exhibition gave me a chance to take a deeper look into other families’ histories and discover parallels in the resiliency and courage of our individual and collective stories.”

Corporate sponsors are Wells Fargo and Edison International. UCI co-sponsors are the Department of Asian American Studies, the Humanities Commons, Illuminations: The Chancellor’s Arts & Culture Initiative, the School of Humanities, the UCI Libraries’ Orange County & Southeast Asian Archive Center, the Center for Asian Studies, the Department of History, the Cross-Cultural Center, the Southeast Asian Student Association, Southeast Asian Retention Through Creating Hxstory, and Vietnamese American Community Ambassadors (an alumni chapter).

For more information, please click here.

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