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Exploring Stories Behind the Amerasian Experience After the Vietnam War

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Before beginning this project, I did not know very much about the Vietnam War. Events such as the Tet Offensive and Operation Babylift were events I had heard about, but my knowledge of the events was vague. Since my parents lived through the war as children and came to America as refugees, I have always wanted to learn more about the people and history behind the war. It was important to me to discover what my parents experienced.

Vietnamese Amerasians were merely children during the post Vietnam War era. Their American servicemen fathers left Vietnam. Their Vietnamese mothers would often abandon them or send them to orphanages. They were discriminated against and abused due to their appearance. This treatment is only some of what they had to go through when while still living in Vietnam.

A Second Chance in the U.S.

Fortunately, Robert J. Mrazek, a U.S. Congressman, flew to Vietnam after hearing about an Amerasian boy, named Le Van Minh, who needed medical help..  After seeing the horrid living conditions the Amerasian children endured and how they wanted to “go to the land of [their] father,” Mrazek decided to find a solution. He would eventually come to author the Amerasian Homecoming Act. As a result, the Vietnamese Amerasians, along with their families, were allowed a second chance at life and immigrated to the U.S.

Even though I am of Vietnamese descent, I initially did not have any knowledge of Vietnamese Amerasians and their incredible stories. After intensive research and speaking to my parents, who interacted with Amerasians while they were still living  in Vietnam, I realized that they had suffered way too much to not be mentioned in a history textbook. Amerasians also had a great impact on both the Vietnamese and American people. Almost 100,000 people immigrated from Vietnam to the U.S. and they are now living in better conditions, becoming productive and contributing members of society.

A School Project Inspires a Deeper Dive  

Although creating a National History Day project at my school is part of a class assignment for juniors, I created a project as an extracurricular activity when I was a sophomore. The History Day program provides students with the opportunity to dive into a topic and dig deeper than a student would during an average history course.

To begin my project, I spent numerous hours researching. I gathered background information on Vietnamese Amerasians and the impact of the Amerasian Homecoming Act. I visited the Watson Library at the University of Kansas, where I found numerous newspaper articles and books from their databases and library. I also researched in other libraries.  I contacted two Vietnamese Amerasians that came to America through Operation Babylift and the Amerasian Homecoming Act. Then, I had to write my script, a 500 word process paper with an annotated bibliography, and create my documentary.

A Homecoming Act Documentary

I thought that the topic of U.S. Congressman Robert Mrazek’s stand for Amerasians could be expressed most clearly through a documentary. I used iMovie to create my project and found video clips, images, and music that complemented the information provided. Through this documentary, viewers are enlightened about the agony Amerasians went through and the positive results  from Mrazek’s Amerasian Homecoming Act.

After working on this project, my determination to learn more about the Vietnam War grew stronger. Meeting Amerasians and hearing their stories made me want to continue to deepen my understanding about their struggles. Today, since most Americans do not know about the Vietnam War, Amerasians and the impacts of the Amerasian Homecoming Act, I feel like it is important topic for young people to examine.

Kim Vu is a junior in Seaman High School in Topeka, Kansas. She is currently involved in band, Math Club, Key Club, SHARP Committee, Scholar’s Bowl, Student Council, Writing Center, and Track and Field inside of school. Outside of school, she is involved in the youth folk choir and volunteer at my church and at food banks. Kim won National History's Day Vietnam War Era Prize with this documentary.

Kim Vu

Kim Vu High School Student

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