They Call Us Viet Kieu

Discipline 
Multidisciplinary
Issue 
Cultural Identity
Semester/Year 
Fall 2012

Student Grantee

Minnie Phan | BFA Illustration 2014

Community Partners

Vietnamese Youth Development Center in San Francisco (Distribution Center)

AuCo Vietnamese Cultural Center in San Francisco (Distribution Center)

Kearny Street Workshop (Distribution Center)

Huong Viet Community Center in Oakland (Distribution Center)

Minnie Phan received a Center Micro-Grant to complete and distribute They Call Us Viet Kieu, a short memoir on Vietnamese heritage and Vietnamese-American identity.

Project Description

Minnie Phan received a Center Micro-Grant to complete and distribute They Call Us Viet Kieu, a short memoir on Vietnamese heritage and Vietnamese-American identity. Visiting Vietnam in 2013 and being described as "Viet Kieu" (Vietnamese diaspora) inspired her to explore the complexities of Vietnamese identity and bring awareness to the Vietnamese American community. They Call Us Viet Kieu uses visual narrative to recount the experience of Minnie’s parents’ as refugees from Vietnam, as well as her solo journey back to the country. Through 32 full-color pages, Minnie illustrates the life-changing experiences in Vietnam that taught her how to embrace cultural heritage in a society that encourages assimilation. Minnie also engaged with members of the local Asian American community by listening to their stories to gain perspective on her own experience with culture clashes and microaggressions. Once completed, They Call Us Viet Kieu was presented at a gallery show at California College of the Arts. Vietnamese and American translations were shared with community centers in the Bay Area (Vietnamese Youth Development Center in SF, Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center in SF, Kearny Street Workshop, Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay, Huong Viet Community Center in Oakland).

Project Outcome

Since its publication in 2013, They Call Us Viet Kieu has been admitted into libraries and community organizations in NY, TX, OR, WA (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and CA (San Francisco Public Library; California College of the Arts; University of California, Davis). It joined the permanent zine collection of the Riot Grrrl Movement exhibition, "Alien She," at YBCA in 2015. There are currently over 500+ copies in circulation. Copies of They Call Us Viet Kieu are available here in both Vietnamese and English.

This project had a rewarding and lasting impact [on me]. Becoming active in my community exposed me to another side of the creative process. I want to continue to be active [in my community] and fully embrace the great life beyond CCA. - Minnie Phan