Thursday, May 30, 2013

Anh TV: International Students in the United States

I wanted to take a deeper look into Vietnamese international students in the United States. From my background as an International Relations major and my past experience, I was curious to know about their reaction toward the Vietnamese (American) in the United States. I wondered if there were any conflicts or shocks. Specifically I was asking questions about the following:
  • how they emerge to the society
  • what difficulties/struggles they undergo
  • interact with Vietnamese American population here in the US

Methodology: interview; books -- some relevant books are not published; transnationalizing Viet Nam

  • Many avoid talking about it to stay away from troubles.
  • Ask a fb page of Vietnamese Intl students in the US: Admin refuse to further discuss on the subject
  • three/four interviews
  • more to worry about adapting/studying than identifying 
  • still identity themselves as Vietnam
Three outstanding cases: (1) came since high school (now an undergraduate in UCB), (2) came from the beginning of college (transfered from SJSU to UCD), (3) came for a semester exchange (at UConn)


  • Most international students focus more on academics and not concerned about politics
  • They struggles more on living by their own, adapting to the new environment than having conflicts with the Vietnamese American community
  • When conflicts (about to) happen, they hide their identity as Vietnamese Vietnamese; some have good English enough to accept themselves as Vietnamese Americans
  • Some international students come from wealth off families who own private business and are unhappy with the Government system in Vietnam --> prefer the freedom/ democracy in the United States.

Feedback from peers: 
From the outside: nothing new. Student experience -- international student experience 
Passing: hiding identity? Why do they pass? How? Lack of preparation intrinsicly
intl students easier to pass? Internal struggles
What aspect of they learn? How they intake/incorporate the information? 
Asian American reaction on international students


  1. Hi, It's Quynh.

    one of the things you can elaborate on is study more about their incentives of coming to the U.S. What makes them want to come here? because people tend to behave in a way to achieve their ultimate goals. Example: like you mentioned, some international students don't concern about politics because they come here to get higher educational degree. Their incentives might be interesting since it also says something about what they are gonna live up to and predict their thinking and actions.
    Hope it helps,

  2. Hello,

    This is Colette.

    What conflicts particular with the Vietnamese American and the Vietnamese international students are you looking at? Or are they on a case by case basis?

    What troubles as so impactful that people do not want to talk about? Is it regarding politics in Vietnam and the US-Vietnam Relations? I am slightly unclear in terms of the uncomfortable nature to talk about troubles with Vietnamese Americans.

    Coming from a background as being an international student in Southeast Asia, I am wondering if these conflicts reflect culture shock or something more insidious in the society as they relate to one another. Also, I am wondering to what extend are Vietnamese International students are "Passing" verses "Covering." In the text Covering: The Hidden Assault on our civil rights, Kenji Yoshino defines covering as a toning down of a disfavored identity to fit into the mainstream, Verses passing which is defined as the elimination of aspect of the self, in essence passing marks the death of an old self. So in the process of passing, are these International students eliminating parts of them selves socially or are they covering their Vietnamese-ness depending on the context of the situation?

  3. Hi Anh!

    I'm curious to know what type of “conflicts or shocks” were you anticipating to find. Like differences in social customs, language barriers, discrimination, or maybe just the opposite? I think this is a very interesting subject to study, and you will have a lot of personal insight to include in your paper, being that you are from Vietnam. I think to better your study, you should definitely explain what kind of "politics" you are talking about (maybe be a little more specific), when you say that "most international students are more focused on academics". Does that mean that they are not active in social justice movements or they don't want to get involve or associate with certain communities just to stay under the radar? Maybe it will help to describe what kind of organizations or communities this may include; it would be very helpful and clarify a lot of questions for someone (like myself) who is not aware of the interaction struggle or welcoming between the Vietnamese and Vietnamese American communities. It's kind of late to do more interviews, but if you can, it might provide more insight to interview Vietnamese Americans who know of Vietnamese International students, and discuss their interaction as well.

    Hope this helps! Good luck!
    Liz Shigetoshi

  4. Hi Anh,

    I'm particularly interested in the ways in which you mentioned how International Students "pass" as Vietnamese diasporic members. In this way, how does this fragile identity complicate the relationships between members of diaspora and international students? Are International students informed by a strong sense of Vietnamese nationalism when they enter the United States? You mentioned that you encountered a broad spectrum of International Student experiences, but what informs their experiences? I think that your research would benefit a great deal if you were able to identity the complex and multiple motivations for International Studies to engage with the diasporic community. Why would an International Student want to "pass" as a member of diaspora? Why would they not want to "pass" as a member? If you are able to reveal these motivations and the nuances associated with them, I think that your research would be very compelling and interesting to read as a unique contribution to the field of Vietnamese American Studies.

    Eddie Truong

  5. Thank you for all your thoughtful comments. I have collected two more interviews and an important article that I decide to focus my paper on two aspects: 1)General struggles that Vietnamese Intl students have to face while adapting in the US, 2)How they interact with the Vietnamese American community. For the first half, I'll be writing about communication & cultural differences; and for the second, I'll talking about political conflicts and unconsciousness about the conflicts for those who first came.

    Again, I appreciate all your inputs

  6. Hi Anh, this is Yee. What makes Vietnamese American studies that much more different when it comes down to other cultural studies? Can you explore what those "shocks" are/you can possibly try to find out the reasons behind these 'conflicts' IR students have when coming over and learning about VN American studies. What is a solution you can bring to the table? Do you recommend the US having courses where they offer two sides of the story instead of just one? Does that make a difference to any of the studies that we've learned so far? For those who have these 'conflicts' or 'shocks', what does it mean to be a 'true' Vietnamese? Democracy or not? Is history being misappropriated? What is the end goal for the IR students?