This exhibition is a partnership between the Heritage Museum of Orange County, and Viet Stories: Vietnamese American Oral History Project at the University of California.
Vietnamese Americans have lived in extraordinary times, surviving war, displacement, and resettlement. The BUILDING COMMUNITIES: The Vietnamese American Experience exhibition remembers the past and captures the transformation of Vietnamese communities in the U.S., the largest outside of Vietnam. This history exhibition presents snapshots of dynamic and vibrant communities.
Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, significant numbers of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants have arrived in this country and the population now comprises approximately two million. The stories in this exhibition present the complexities of their experiences before the war, roles during the war, paths of escape and resettlement, and contemporary lives in the U.S.
Many Vietnamese were forced to destroy their family documents, photographs, and mementos in order to survive, while others lost these materials during the chaos of war and evacuation. The rare artifacts and photographs along with the narratives on display illustrate the different immigration paths, occupations, family histories, and perspectives of the population and show there is no singular Vietnamese American experience. As viewers engage the oral histories and histories on display, we hope they will gain a more in-depth understanding of America’s diversity.
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