Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
My Journey Home Armando Pena Andrew Lam Faith Adiele
Introduction
Video Diary
Diaspora
Stranger
Background
Andrew Lam
Your Journey HomeFor TeachersAbout the film
Andrew Lam
Introduction
by Andrew Lam
  
1  2  3  4  

It was, all in all, the right decision.

Almost three decades ago, my family and I left Vietnam inside a C-130 cargo plane full of weeping refugees. I remember watching a Saigon in smoke, then a green mass of land giving way to a hazy green sea. I was eleven years old — too young to realize that I was witnessing a significant historical moment. For the first time in her embattled history, a history alleged to be 4,000 years old, the end of a war had resulted in an unprecedented mass exodus.

A Diaspora: Two million Vietnamese, scattered into more than 50 countries across the globe.Andrew and his mother at the gate of the family house in Da Lat

As a child in war-time Vietnam, leaving was unthinkable and the national borders had seemed to me as concrete as the Great Wall of China. Once I had expected to grow up and follow my father's soldierly footsteps and fight for my country. But in that C-130 full of refugees, I was moving not only across the sea but from one psyche to another. Yesterday, my inheritance was simple — the sacred rice fields and rivers which once owned me, defining who I was. Today, as a journalist who covers Southeast Asia and East-West relations and whose relatives are scattered in three continents, Paris and Bangkok and Saigon are no longer fantasies, but a matter of scheduling. My identity, likewise, has become multi-layered and is in flux. Once bound by a singular sense of geography, I now have reference points in at least three continents, several languages, and across many borders.

1  2  3  4