‘We need to sit together’: Longtime local Vietnamese association gathers for first time since pandemic began – The Mercury News

Today's e-Edition
Get Morning Report and other email newsletters

Get Morning Report and other email newsletters
Today's e-Edition
Hundreds of local Vietnamese-Americans stood under the beaming sun at San Jose’s Lake Cunningham Park on Sunday, the first time that the local group — which has been meeting for decades — got the chance to see each other face-to-face since the pandemic began.
The gathering of the Quảng Ngãi Association, made up of Vietnamese locals who escaped their home country in the wake of the end of the war in 1975, was all smiles. Longtime members stood side-by-side young children, generations who have laid deep roots within the Bay Area.
Organizers handed out spring rolls with shredded pork (bì cuốn), pork and beef barbecue and sweet cakes (bánh ngọt). Some older women wore traditional Vietnamese hats (nón lá) with colorful decorations adorning the exterior while others guzzled down cold beer to counter the blazing heat. A calligraphy artist painted Vietnamese words with broad brush strokes on long pieces of colorful construction paper next to red stamps, with one participant receiving a message that stood for remembering one’s parents.
“It is very important,” Douglas Nguyen, one of the event’s organizers and a member of the Association, said about the community seeing each other. “We need to sit together. And say hello. And see how many people are still here.”
The Association, made up of former residents from central Vietnam’s Quảng Ngãi Province, includes those who fled the country when Saigon fell to the communists.
The refugees, known as “boat people,” settled across cities in the United States, including San Jose, after escaping from brutal persecution. Though it has been decades since they arrived in the United States, the Quảng Ngãi Association members continue to fly the “Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag,” the flag of South Vietnam – and sing the country’s anthem along with the Star Spangled Banner.
Aside from socializing yearly, the group also uses the opportunity to help raise money for Vietnamese students within the United States and back in their home country. This year, a total of 125 students combined will receive scholarships, Nguyen said.
Today, the Association is a reflection of the greater expansion of the Vietnamese community in the South Bay. Santa Clara County is home to 140,000 Vietnamese-Americans, according to county-provided statistics, and the community has contributed to a thriving culinary and cultural scene with Little Saigon in East San Jose as its epicenter.
Some at Sunday’s festival spent the day thinking about the political oppression they left behind in Vietnam.
Sunny Dang, who lives with his family in Pittsburg and escaped the country in 1981, said his journey to the United States was a tough one and included a weeks-long ride in a 20-foot long boat stuffed with 30 people, eventually landing in San Francisco. On Sunday, he came to his first gathering of the Association and brought along his 14-year-old son Danny.
Dang said that the community needs to carry on the hope that Vietnam will one day be a free country.
“All small groups can come together to make something bigger,” he said. “And hopefully, the government will change. Only liberty will last. But dictators won’t.”
We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.
Get Morning Report and other email newsletters
Copyright © 2022 MediaNews Group


Leave a Comment