Sunday, April 28, 2013

Quynh Dinh-Week 4

The article The "We-Win-Even-When-We-Lose" Syndrome: U.S. Press Coverage of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the "Fall of Saigon" stretches out the ideal of how Viet Nam war affected us in multiple aspects. The U.S. failed to “liberate” and bring “freedom” to Viet Nam- the country which in the article depicted as “a tiny tinhorn country halfway around the world” onto anachronistic space, depicting it as “exotic,” “sensual,” “alien,” infected with “sweltering, insect ridden jungles”—a place of “horror,” “madness,” and “violence,” replete with snipers, drugs, and prostitutes; in short, “hell.” It’s Viet Nam where U.S. soldiers lost their “innocence” and returned home in shame. War, in general, is nasty and gruesome. It’s a battle field where there is no pain, no gain. Everyone involved in it, more or less, inevitably affected and suffered. Therefore I do not think it is right to blame VN for taking away U.S soldiers’ innocence. It is not just the U.S who wounded badly. VN and its people suffered the same thing. They have to face the devastated aftermath after the U.S. left.
In reality, I must agree Democratic countries are much more developed than Communist countries. But what the U.S. did to VN in the hope of stopping Communism spread and how it made VN sound like a horrible place are, for me, hard to accept. Why they always make themselves sound like a good person, a “savior” after they heavily bombed the country? And the U.S. did the same thing to Native Americans, Mexicans, and etc…They claimed to bring “light” and “freedom” by invading other countries, changing them into the way that they think is right. But the question is “who is here to judge which’s wrong and which’s right really?”

Yee Xiong - Week 4

In Chia Youyee Vang’s Chapter 2 in “Hmong America: Reconstructing Community in Diaspora”,
she explains the experience of Hmong refugees who started to create new lives in the United States and the new social structure within the community. This chapter brings a great insight to better
understand the real experiences of the Hmong people in America and detail their struggles.

Resettlement wasn’t easy for most of the Hmong people. However, as the years progressed, some people found their ways to acculturate to American society. The Hmong people have been in the process of recreating their identity and one thing that has been keeping the Hmong culture active is the annual Hmong New Year Festivals that each city holds if a Hmong community exists there. During these festivals, thousands of people show up in traditional Hmong attire to participate in courtship and entertainment. Although there has been unison within the Hmong community, there has also been a recent division. Some people do not believe in the values of Hmong New Year Festivals anymore because they feel that it is an "old" event to attend or is the "same thing every year". From personal experience as a regular attendee for almost a decade now, there has been a decline in the attendance of these festivals and I am not sure why. A more current problem is the option of two festivals to attend at Fresno, California: the largest population of the Hmong people. There's been talk about this new festival forming because they believe the non-profit organizations are only hosting the festival for revenue now. I believe it also has to do with sub-clan identification. The full details, however, I do not know, but am interested in seeking out the main meanings behind this division or creation of a new celebration festival.

The Hmong New Year festivals are some of the biggest events that the Hmong community have and participate in together. But what if Hmong New Year Festivals ceases to exist? What else will the Hmong people have in order for them to unite (for at least once a year)? If these festivals stop, what does that mean?

Yee Xiong - Week 3

In Espiritu’s article, “The "We-Win-Even-When-We-Lose" Syndrome: U.S. Press Coverage
of the Twenty Fifth Anniversary of the "Fall of Saigon”, he illustrates the significance on how
powerful the media plays in shaping U.S. opinions on our involvement in the Vietnam War. The
Vietnam War was the first war that had national news coverage and it affected the many lives
of Americans in the United States; it also aggravated them to start the first anti-war movement.
This article did an extremely great job at providing news from mainstream media to support its
argument and opened my eyes to a new perspective.

When we look at our involvement in the Vietnam War today, we see how “innocent” American
soldiers were and America’s victory in saving Vietnamese lives—and that is how the media
wants us to look at it. The media, however, dismisses a lot of global issues that are critical to
understanding the layers beneath our involvement in the Vietnam War.

The media and our history textbooks in America dismisses Vietnamese refugee experiences
and it only selects various narratives that cater to the theme of the United States as a “savior” to
Vietnamese people in the “helpless” Vietnam. This is often times, if not too many, a common
motif in the history of the United States and its role to “third world countries”. Although the
United States did not have a clear victory in Vietnam, it is portrayed that way. But of course, a
country that is known to be the leader in the “free world” will always portray itself as the Victor
even when the facts are against them.

Do you think the United States can continue to stay the leader of the “free world” and have a
powerful image at the expense of colonizing or “saving” countries with the thousands of lives that are at stake? Is there or is there not another alternative to this method?

Yee Xiong - Week 2

In Chia Youyee Vang’s book, “Hmong America: Reconstructive Community in Diaspora”, she
further explains the complex history of the Hmong people’s migration and structure prior to America. Because most scholars have agreed to this written history, I have an easier time believing that this is the "truth", however, I still have some questions to ask because there were no documentation of the Hmong people's migrations.

There is no doubt that the history of the Hmong people is complex. One thing that we seem to
do is search for an identity-one identity for all the Hmong people- whether that be through the clothing we wear, the dialect we speak, or the region we are from.

What’s important to understand is that identity is a social construct and it cannot be controlled or fixed. Although it is critical to find common ground and a reason for all Hmong people to unite, what we should appreciatemore is each of our differences. It is our differences that complete the wholeness of our Hmong people. So for example, whether or not you are a follower of the late General Vang Pao, it is important to respect these differences. I didn't use to think this way; I thought that all those who were against him could not call themselves Hmong because they did not believe in his ways of paving the way for Hmong people. There are also those who believe that those who speak in the Green dialect are the "original" language of the Hmong. However, because Hmong identity is so complex, what other factors do you think influences our identity? What does it mean to be Hmong?

Yee Xiong - Week 1

In Gary Yia Lee’s, “Diaspora & the Predicament of Origins: Interrogating Hmong Postcolonial History and Identity”, he explains further details on Hmong origins and how Hmong people came to be.  The article shares some of the stories that I’ve heard as a little child and some are what my parents believe to be true.  However, I am not sure if I wholeheartedly agree to it yet.

After reading this article, I realize what a common theme it shares with other stories on the origin of other ethnic groups.  There is no clear documentation on how people came to exist but most groups believe their people came first.  It is interesting to see that the theme is about who came first into the world-in terms of race/ethnicity.  It makes stories sound more legitimate if the thought of someone being first is present in any story.  Nobody wants to be second or last—stories are almost always more important if one comes first. Based on your own experience; which race or ethnicity group do you think existed first? And how strongly do you identify with this group? How important is being the first of many things? Does it outweigh those that come after those in first place? Lastly, how do you think human beings first came to be?

Liz Shigetoshi - Week 4

In the chapter “A New Home in America” in Hmong America, author Chia Youyee Vang describes the process and repercussions of the resettlement and migration of the Hmong refugees in the United States. The author also discusses the motivation for moving to states like California, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania; some motives include the availability of jobs, skills training, education, welfare benefits, and the climate. I thought it was interesting how the US federal government made an effort to discourage the Hmong from dispersing to areas where Hmong populations were already present. From the article, I wanted to know if this is discouragement expressed with other refugees of other races? And has it helped the spread of policy for on a national and local level? How so? Since Hmong communities are very family and culturally oriented, I can imagine it would be really hard to separate from my comfort zone, and be dropped into an environment where I felt potentially unwelcomed or misunderstood. I’ve always lived in northern California, which is considered to have the most diverse cities in the United States, and while going to UC Davis, I’ve met several people who have never heard of the Hmong or Mien. I think there is a definite need for other parts of the United States to become aware of the Hmong community, but at the same time it’s part of their culture to stay in contact and stay close together.


Chapter 3 in Hmong Americans is very interesting because it reveals how the Hmong community organizes to address problems in the USA. The notion that immigrants exclude themselves away from the dominant view is a myth as shown in this chapter. However, the multiple numbers of groups and factions is a reflection of the clan system in Hmong culture. Within the culture there are various clans distinguished by the last names, and within each clan there is a further grouping dependent on their elders and kinship. For example, just because two families have the same last name it doesn’t necessarily mean they are of the same group; each may have their own leaders, elders, and kinship. So under the ethnicity of Hmong there are various clans and within each clan there are a number of groups with the same last names but different decision-makers. Each group many interact with one another and have many forms of relationships but during times of conflict, they report to their own elders. This is because the interaction and movement between each group, no matter the last name, is very political and controlled. The heads of each group decides how to deal with inter and intra-group conflict, celebrations, and distribution of resources during hard times. It is a political, economic, legislative, social, and policing structure. The complexity of how the Hmong people organize themselves is now carried over into America as they deal with money, social and gender issues, and restructuring.
Currently, many family groups still hold meetings to discuss a variety of topics, such as funeral proceedings, success of their children, critical celebrations, etc. In addition to the serious topics, they also engage in family reunions, big family dinners, rent out dinning halls for special occasions or holidays, plan camping trips, etc.  
Despite the organizational method of the Hmong people, there are times when the lines are broken and many come together to fight for a cause. The protest to release Vang Pao and his associates was one such event.

Nhia Moua - Week 4

Chia Youyee Vang discusses the resettlement of Hmong refugees in America (and elsewhere but mainly focusing on resettlement in the US) in “A New Home in America.”  She discusses their first round of resettlement immediately after the war and then discusses the various reasons for secondary resettlement after arriving in America.  I understand the US’ reason for scattering the Hmong in towns and cities away from other Hmong people. Of course it would be important to fully assimilate them into society so that they pose no extra burden for the government, or society.  But I do think the US is overlooking the culture of the Hmong when they are making such a statement. Sometimes, I think it is due to this lack of understanding on America’s part that causes the US to overestimate the effectiveness of their actions.  The experience the Hmong has with secondary resettlement is not unique to them. Other ethnic groups that migrated to the US, such as the Koreans, have moved around due to weather, economic opportunities, and lack of an ethnic community as well.  The question I have now is: How are these primary, secondary, etc resettlements important in the construction of the Hmong community and identity? Does it effect the way the community remembers their experience in America and abroad post Secret war?