"Giap's Last Day at the Ironing Board Factory" re-aired May 2017.
Giap's Last Day at the Ironing Board Factory
Explore the refugee and Asian American experience in this half hour film.
About the Show
In 1975, as Saigon was falling to the Communists, 125,000 Vietnamese, loyal to the American forces and afraid for their lives, escaped Vietnam any way they could -- in helicopters, airplanes and overcrowded boats. In the chaos, many families were separated.
The refugees weren’t warmly welcomed to the United States. The Vietnam War was unpopular and there was considerable resentment and mistrust towards non-white immigrants. To minimize their impact on local communities, the refugees were scattered throughout the country. Though, within a few years, most of them re-settled and created their own communities in California and Texas, some of them stayed where they were put.
Giap Thi Nguyen was 29 years old, uneducated and scared, when a Catholic group sponsored her resettlement to a small town in Indiana. She spoke no English and was seven months pregnant with no husband.
Read more about the show below.
A Closer Look at "Giap's Last Day at the Ironing Board Factory"
More About "Giap's Last Day at the Ironing Board Factory"
The American sponsor informed her that the best way to fit in was to work, then took her down to a local factory and got her a job. She worked on an assembly line clocking in at 6 a.m., operating a 250-ton press and making ironing boards, one of the few household items still “Made in the U.S.A.”
35 years later, Giap can finally retire. Tony, her aspiring 35-year-old documentary filmmaker son living in Oakland, California with a family of his own, comes home to film her last day on the job. Tony has never been to his mother’s workplace and as soon as he turns the camera, he realizes how little he knows about her life in both Vietnam and in Seymour, Indiana (famous as the birthplace of John Mellencamp and the inspiration for his hit song, “Small Town”). He uses the opportunity to ask her all the questions she was too tired, too busy or just unwilling to answer when he was a child (“What happened to my father?”) and tries to come to terms with his anger over an abusive stepfather and his bitterness growing up as an oddity, the only Asians in town.
"Giap's Last Day at the Ironing Board Factory" was made possible by the following:
Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Center for Asian American Media, Easy Bay Community Foundation, ITVS (Diversity Development Fund), Berkeley Film Foundation, City of Oakland Cultural Funding Program,
The Fleishhacker Foundation, Pacific Pioneer Fund and Puffin Foundation.