In 2008, The University of Texas at Austin offered its first course on Vietnamese Americans taught by Dr. Linda Ho Peche, then a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology. She collaborated with The Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation on an oral history project and exhibit. In the process, her students gained valuable skills in oral history interviewing by listening to people's life stories and the ways in which the VAHF was working to tell a collective story about Vietnamese in the diaspora.
Public exhibits and events were collaboratively organized with The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Austin History Center, Rice University, and The University of California at Irvine. Funding by the Union of North American Student Associations propelled the project to a national level. Nationwide and beyond, The Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation volunteers began holding training sessions and interviewing their parents, neighbors and community members, resulting in the collection of hundreds of additional oral history interviews. These oral histories are accessible here on The Vietnamese in the Diaspora Digital Archive.
A NOTE ON INTERVIEWS
Please note that this is a collection of grassroots interviews conducted by a small, non-profit organization. The purpose was to empower everyday people to tell their stories and craft their own narratives about their life experiences. In many instances, second generation Vietnamese Americans are interviewing their elders. Please forgive the varying quality of sound, video and interviewing abilities, as this was a volunteer project. The fact that this has been a grassroots, self-taught effort could be one of the archive's strengths, as it give us an insight into the process of how individuals and this community organization are crafting stories and an identity as a diasporic community.
A NOTE ON TRANSCRIPTS
The transcripts that populate this archive were all conducted by students, family, community volunteers and rarely, paid transcribers, and as such, they may differ substantially. Some transcripts stay true as much as possible to the interviewee's original speech. Others may have been altered slightly to edit out false starts, repetitions or grammatical inconsistencies to make them more readable. While there was some attempt at an overarching guideline, the fact is that this has been a grassroots effort and a labor of love for many volunteers over many years, thus, it has been impossible to achieve uniformity. We ask that you forgive such inconsistencies.
Also note that diacritics have been used in the spelling of some names and not others; this has been done according to the interviewee's preference. Please note that because Vietnamese is a tonal language with diacritics to mark tonality, two names that may seem similar when the diacritics are dropped, could in fact be two distinct names."Oral historians generally agree that a transcript only approximates what has been recorded. Anyone who has ever looked at a transcript will know what I mean – transcripts are generally replete with false starts, verbal crutches, non sequitur, incomplete sentences, poorly transitioned leaps from topic to topic, and other forms of expression..." taken from Linda Shopes, “Editing Oral History For Publication,” Oral History Forum d’histoire orale 31 (2011).