Graduation Date

5-2018

Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

Department or Program Chair

Jordan Lieser, Ph.D.

First Reader

Jordan Lieser, Ph.D.

Abstract

After the fall of Saigon, Vietnam in 1975, 1.6 million Vietnamese fled the victorious communist regime. Many resettled in the United States, roughly half a million settled in California, creating large communities in Orange County and San Jose. Both larger communities express a deep cultural identity, appreciation and sense of preservation along with a strong tradition of passing down this culture to their children and grandchildren. However, a small group of Vietnamese immigrants in Marin County, CA don’t display the same pattern of passing on their culture, religion, and language to their children as other larger Vietnamese communities do. After working with this community closely for two years creating the Marin County Vietnamese American Oral History Project, I observed a huge cultural disconnect between the original immigrants from Vietnam and their American-born children. In most cases, the children of the immigrants were not raised with the Vietnamese culture- they are completely ‘Americanized’ and many do not speak Vietnamese despite it being their parent’s only language. In other cases, the second generation wants to embrace their culture but are unable to do so. This is a fairly new phenomena in Vietnamese-American culture and academic scholarship does not have a definitive term for it simply because it has not been broadly studied yet. However, in my experience with the Marin community, I would describe it as a generational cultural disconnect. There is no singular pattern explaining this phenomena- each explanation is unique to each family. However, the root causes of this problem can be narrowed down to the family’s unique diaspora narrative, an internal cultural identity quandary among the second generation, and institutional barriers the community faces in the United States. These root causes impacted the way Vietnamese culture is valued and passed down in the iv Marin community even more than they even realize and has led to the cultural quandary they experience today.

Share

COinS