Vietnamese American Heritage Display
On Tuesday, Oct. 9th cultural, political and business leaders converged on the Viet Art Center for a public reception celebrating the first stop on the Smithsonian exhibit’s national tour. Dr. Vu Pham, curator of the exhibit and a Vietnamese American scholar is a member of Buena Park Rotary Club. Vu gave a very informative talk and tour of the exhibit as part of the grand opening reception.
When the U.S. resettlement program began in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese refugees faced starting over in a foreign land with a mixture of survivors’ guilt and overwhelming relief. That was then. This is now. And thanks to the sponsorship of Cal State Fullerton, “Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon,” a Smithsonian exhibition chronicling the growth of “Vietnamese America Since 1975,” will be on display at the Viet Art Center in Garden Grove through Dec. 2.
The Smithsonian’s first effort to explore the Vietnamese American experience, the exhibit depicts the challenges, changes and choices that these strangers in a strange land encountered as they adapted to life in the United States, forming communities whose shops, restaurants and entertainments recreated some of the richness of Vietnamese culture.
One such community is known as “Little Saigon,” located in the cities of Garden Grove and Westminster, a major commercial center of Vietnamese customs and more than 3,500 Vietnamese-American businesses, which cater to the nation’s largest population of Vietnamese Americans. Now nearly 1.5 million in number, Vietnamese Americans constitute a vibrant and diverse ethnic community.
The exhibit explores civic and political issues, as well as the intergenerational tensions families experienced negotiating new lives in a new country. In 90 panels of text and photographs, supplemented by accompanying videos, “Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon” documents the considerable lengths to which Vietnamese Americans have gone to maintain their linguistic, cultural and religious traditions. The exhibit was created by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling and Exhibition Services. “Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon” will remain on view at the Viet Art Center through Dec. 2, before continuing on to Houston next on it’s12-city itinerary through 2010. The two-month run at the Garden Grove Viet Art Center will be supplemented by special programs featuring Vietnamese American authors and filmmakers.
The event on October 9th was kicked off by Cal-State Fullerton Professor Jeff Brody’s remarks. Michelle Nguyen Executive Director of Viet Arts Center gave a speech in both Vietnamese and English. State Farm Insurance is a Sponsor of the Exhibit. Presentations were made by Westminster Councilman Frank Fry, Mydung Tran from Lou Correa’s office and Ronnie Guyer representing Van Tran. Rotarian Christiane Salts, Trustee Dennis Salts and Buena Park Rotary President Shailesh Shah were Honored Guests of Dr. Pham and Siu Pham at the Exhibit Opening. The event was a wonderful experience for all who attended.
The Viet Art Center is located at 12965 Main St. in Garden Grove. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. The center is just North of Garden Grove Blvd. on Main and just west of Euclid Blvd.
Buena Park Rotary meets each week at knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant on Wednesday at Noon Visitors are welcome.