NANCY BUI, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF THE VIETNAMESE AMERICAN HERITAGE FOUNDATION
Over two decades ago, Nancy Bui retold the story of her escape from her country in the aftermath of the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Her daughter was writing a school report about the Vietnam War. That report received a failing grade. Rattled and confused, Bui spoke with the teacher, who said that her personal story did not constitute an “official source,” and that the school curriculum gave a different portrayal of Vietnam’s communist leaders. Ever since, Bui’s goal has been to make the personal stories of those that fled persecution and impoverishment in Vietnam into official historical sources, adding to our knowledge about that period in American history. She founded and became president of the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation (VAHF). Thus, she has kept her promise to her daughter that, “someday, mom will try to do something; we need to tell our story, so the world knows what really happened in Vietnam in the war and our journey to freedom.” She continues to serve as president of the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation.
LINDA HO PECHE, DIRECTOR OF ORAL HISTORY ARCHIVES FOR THE VIETNAMESE IN THE DIASPORA DIGITAL ARCHIVE
In 2008, The University of Texas at Austin offered its first course on Vietnamese Americans taught by Dr. 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. The list of institutional collaborators grew to include The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Austin History Center, Rice University, The University of California at Irvine and the Vietnamese American Student Associations that propelled the project to a national level. Nationwide and beyond, volunteers began holding training sessions and interviewing their parents, neighbors and community members, resulting in the collection of hundreds of oral history interviews by 2014. These oral histories are in the process of being accessible here on The Vietnamese in the Diaspora Digital Archive. Dr. Peche is currently cataloguing and archiving the ongoing work on this site.