Best Nonprofit Orange County 2013 - Vietnamese American Oral History Project
In 1960, at the age of 22 and teaching in the North Vietnam city of Hai Phong, Nguyen Chi Thien made a terrible mistake in the view of Ho Chi Minh's communist government. Nguyen strayed from the textbook, which declared that World War II ended because the Soviet Red Army crushed the Japanese in China. He instead told students that the war ended after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. For "spreading propaganda," Nguyen lost his freedom for 42 months. The details of that and other stories of Nguyen's remarkable life might be lost if not for the Vietnamese American Oral History Project at UC Irvine. In 2010, two years before his death in Santa Ana, Nguyen told his stories for the project, guaranteeing future historians access to the life of one of Vietnam's bravest and most artistically talented individuals. With the aid of student volunteers and donations, director Dr. Linda Trinh Vo, inaugural project director Dr. Thuy Vo Dang and new project director Tram Le are undertaking a noble effort to record these immigrant histories before they're lost forever.