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Cultural Identity and Allegiance Among Vietnamese Students and Their Organizations at the University of California, Irvine: 1980–1990


by Thai-Huy Nguyen & Marybeth Gasman — 2015

Background: Within the canon of Asian American histories and histories of student activism, little attention is given to the Vietnamese students at the University of California at Irvine, who came together to advocate for the well-being of Vietnamese refugees after the end of the Vietnam War. This study examines this history and discusses the implications for understanding the unique histories that shape the lives of our increasingly diverse student populations.

Purpose: The objective of this study is to unearth and examine the experiences of Vietnamese students at the University of California at Irvine after the Vietnam War, between 1980 and 1990, and how their student organizations functioned to help them make sense of their personal losses as well as mobilize their efforts to highlight the plight of Vietnamese refugees.

Research Design: Primary and secondary sources were used to support this historical analysis.

Data Collection: Archival material came from the University of California at Irvine’s Southeast Asian Archive.

Conclusions: This study pushes back against popular historical narratives that either ignore or blur the distinct experiences, traditions, and political and economic statuses among the U.S. Asian population. We demonstrate how Vietnamese students were active in their pursuit to improve the social and political conditions for their community. Moreover, this history brings forward very critical issues of student organizing and civic engagement and immigration.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 117 Number 5, 2015, p. 1-22
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17891, Date Accessed: 12/16/2017 7:24:09 PM

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About the Author
  • Thai-Huy Nguyen
    University of Pennsylvania
    E-mail Author
    THAI-HUY NGUYEN is a Ph.D. candidate in the Division of Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania and a research assistant at the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. His interests lie in the role of MSIs in improving educational and professional outcomes for racial minority and low-SES students. His work has been published in the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education and Nursing Outlook.
  • Marybeth Gasman
    University of Pennsylvania
    E-mail Author
    MARYBETH GASMAN is professor of higher education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She also serves as the director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. Dr. Gasman is the author of many books, including Educating a Diverse Nation: Lessons from Minority Serving Institutions.
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