Tha Hương: May Mắn Hay Bất Hạnh Cho Người Tị Nạn? || ft. Nguyễn Thanh Việt || Không Nói Không Biết

Viet Thanh Nguyen discusses Afghan refugees and more on the bilingual show, Không Nói Không Biết

Following last week’s discussion, we have Nguyễn Thanh Việt to discuss his perspective on what happened last week in Afghanistan as well as the incoming influx of immigration to the U.S. What does it mean for the people of Afghanistan when they become stateless as their whole world comes to an end? Should they be grateful? What could have prevented this tragedy? Join us this Sunday, August 29, 2021, at 6 pm to discuss Part 2 of our Afghanistan series. 

Sau cuộc thảo luận tuần trước, chúng tôi đã mời Việt Thanh Nguyễn thảo luận về quan điểm của mình về những gì đã xảy ra tuần trước tại Afghanistan cũng như số người nhập cư đến Mỹ. Điều này có nghĩa gì đối với những người Afghanistan vô quốc gia khi thế giới của họ sụp đổ? Họ có nên biết ơn không? Điều gì có thể ngăn chặn thảm kịch này? Hãy tham gia vào Chủ Nhật này, ngày 29 tháng Tám năm 2021, vào lúc 6 giờ tối để thảo luận Phần 2 chủ đề Afghanistan cùng chúng tôi.

Read the transcript below.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: No one wants to become a refuge. It’s a devastating experience for everybody who becomes a refugee.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:00:12]

Leo Nguyen: Yeah. Yeah. [foreign language 00:00:41]. We don’t need any more introduction, Viet Thanh Nguyen has been a pillars in Vietnamese community, he have been supporting our community and also using his influences to support other communities as well. Recently with the Afghanistan’s events that he’d been writing about it and publishing about it. You probably read it in the New York Times Opinions and I don’t want to take any more introductions, so I’m going to pass to our special guests today, [foreign language 00:01:35].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: All right everybody. Thanks for having me here. Leo, that was great. I’m really delighted to have the chance to talk to a Vietnamese speaking audience about our Vietnamese issues and about Afghanistan.

Leo Nguyen: Exactly. We have a rare chance to have a guest like you with us and we really appreciate you taking the time out of your Sunday night to talk with us. So we think it is very personal to start this talk today about… So to give you a chance to tell your, once again tell your [foreign language 00:02:09] story because when I was hearing that, when I was reading that I was like, “That’s me. My parents had me the same thing.” Actually they just called me earlier today asked about that, so would you mind tell that story again to our listener.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:02:24].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: All right. Well, I think the first thing the audience needs to know about me is that I was four years old when I came to the United States in 1975. And I think I was ahead of my time, because I was one of these rare, early generation Vietnamese refugees who grew up not being very good at speaking Vietnamese. I was very fluent in Vietnamese at four years of age. And I stayed fluent at four year age Vietnamese for quite a long time. And so I grew up being accused by my fellow Vietnamese people of a whitewash and a banana. Which is an accusation that I think it’s more common to people who were born in the United States 10 or 20 years later.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:04:08]. You are not alone.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: Okay. So [crosstalk 00:04:31]-

Leo Nguyen: [foreign language 00:04:31].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: Well, I thought it was interesting in the translation that Bao Tran didn’t use the word [foreign language 00:04:41] to refer to me. So maybe that Vietnamese people don’t say [foreign language 00:04:44] to talk about the whitewash, okay. But okay, but I do know some Vietnamese and I certainly grew up surrounded by Vietnamese speakers. I absorbed the language, the sound of the language and even to this day, hearing the Vietnamese language has a profound impact on me. When I hear Vietnamese pop music for example, especially Yellow music so called Yellow music. And when I hear Vietnamese people speaking in ways that are express emotion. And so the story that I’ve been asked to tell is that, a couple of years ago I was in the drugstore in Los Angeles, standing next to a man who was Asian. And he was on the phone and he said on the phone, [foreign language 00:05:37]. And so I knew immediately he was Vietnamese but even more I knew that he was a father speaking to his child, and asking his child if he or she had eaten yet.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: And of course we all know who Vietnamese that [foreign language 00:05:58] is more than just, have you eaten yet? It is also an expression of love. Because when I was growing up my parents would never say, I love you in Vietnamese or in English to me. But they would always say [foreign language 00:06:12] every night. And that was how they express their love, making sure that as busy as they were trying to survive. They always would come home after 12 to 14 hour days at work, and they would make sure that there would always be a three course meal for me. Corn and soup and meat. Right. And that, it brought all that back for me. Hearing this father say this to his child, and I started to get very teary because [foreign language 00:06:48] said by this man revealed a whole level of depth of emotion in him that was very moving to me.

Bao Tran: Yeah. [foreign language 00:06:58].

Leo Nguyen: [foreign language 00:08:25].

Bao Tran: Yeah. [foreign language 00:08:53].

Leo Nguyen: Yeah. [foreign language 00:09:29].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: Don’t worry in Chinese and in the Chinese translations of my books I’m actually written Viet Thang because they messed up the translation of my name but I never understood because it’s in Chinese. And when I wanted to change my name to Viet Thanh they said, “It’s too late. You are now Viet Thang in Chinese.”

Leo Nguyen: No choice.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: No choice.

Leo Nguyen: We already print the books. We already print like 2000, 200,000 of them. You can’t change that. But we apologize. We understand that your names means a lot to you and to everybody else. So we have to respect that, Viet. Okay. Well that was a very heart feeling story about… You just in a drugstore in LA you hear those four words and it brought back your memories that you didn’t know you were able to reconnect. So that was a beautiful story, so thank you for sharing. And we would like to dive deeper a little bit into your experience of a refugee when you come to this country at four and you also were separate from your families for a couple months. I know that this story have been telling in English a lot, so would you care to retell that story so we can translate to our Vietnamese community too.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: So when my family came to the United States in 1975, we ended up in a refugee camp called Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania. And for Vietnamese refugees to leave one this refugee camp or any of the camps we found ourselves in, we had to have American sponsors. But in the case of my family, there was no American sponsor willing to take all four of us. So one sponsor took my parents, one sponsor took my 10 year old brother, Tung. And one sponsor took me, I was four years old. So this was being done for our own good so that my parents would have the time to find work and to take care of themselves. But of course when you’re four years old, you don’t understand that. So what I felt was I was being abandoned and taken away. And so my earliest memories begin in this refugee camp at four years of age, being taken away from my parents howling and screaming.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:12:03].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: I tell this story a lot, because I spent most of my life trying to forget that this happened. But obviously I never have. And it left a very deep emotional imprint on me. And I think I’m not unique. I think that a lot of my fellow Vietnamese refugees have tried to put the past behind them. But the emotions of the experience of becoming refugees was difficult for everybody in their own way. And I feel that people of my generation, including those who did remember what happened, but also including those who didn’t remember what happened, have been emotionally shaped by our history. And if we have been shaped so deeply by this history, I want people to imagine what it feels like for people who are coming from our southern border of the United States, and are being put into detention camps.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: Where their families are being separated, and children are being lost in our detention camp system for months or years at a time. That the parents and the children will be forever traumatized and devastated by that experience. And I hope that my fellow Vietnamese people will find it in their hearts to be able to empathize with what is happening to today’s migrants.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:14:14].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: I will say that I was relatively lucky, I got to come home after a few months. My brother, Tung who was seven years older, didn’t get to come home for two years. And this, he likes to tell me is how we know mom and dad loved you more. But don’t feel sorry for him because seven years after coming to this country as a refugee, speaking no English, he graduated at the head of his high school class and went to Harvard University. And then because I went to my last choice college, he went to Stanford Medical School because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re a Vietnamese refuge.

Leo Nguyen: Right. Tung, you outdone yourself.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:16:58].

Leo Nguyen: Yeah.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: Bao Tran, you didn’t translate that I went to my last choice college. That’s the important part.

Bao Tran: Yeah. [foreign language 00:17:48].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: I don’t want to… No, I’m not going to say.

Bao Tran: Which school was that?

Viet Thanh Nguyen: No, I know what you’re asking. I’m not going to say that. I don’t want to embarrass the university.

Leo Nguyen: No. So the moral of the story here, if you go to your last choice of college you can still end up being a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: That is the moral of the story.

Leo Nguyen: Yes. So thank you. Thank you. I went to my last choice college too. But I’m not going to make the generalization. But since we’re talking about the complex, dissecting of the feelings of a refugees, right? You got people saying that is lucky. You got people think that is heartbreaking. So as a former refugee, how do you dissect that feelings? How can you process that? As what is luck? And as what is heartbreaking? What is pain? And what is gain for refugees?

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:18:51]

Viet Thanh Nguyen: It’s a complicated question. Because, I recently posted to Twitter that my family was forced to flee Vietnam as refugees, that we had no choice. And I think that’s how a lot of refugees feel. But there were some Vietnamese people who responded by saying, “Of course, you had a choice. Your family made a choice. You could have stayed behind, as a lot of Vietnamese people did.” And I think that it is important to note that there is this huge political difference between the people who fled and the people who stayed behind either by choice or by circumstance. In our case, I really do think though, that the refugees who fled felt like they had no choice. Because they did believe that their lives were under threat. And that that’s certainly what my parents thought. And my parents were refugees twice in 1954 coming from north to south and then again in 1975.

Bao Tran: Yeah. [foreign language 00:20:12].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: So I think that from the perspective of the people in Vietnam who wanted to flee, but could not flee, we who managed to escape are the lucky ones. But again, it’s a very complicated issue. Because, yes, we were lucky to leave. But no one wants to become a refugee. It’s a devastating experience for everybody who becomes a refugee. There are so many emotional, physical, spiritual complications from becoming a refugee. And then when we think about who fled, we also have to think about the fact that so many people who fled Vietnam didn’t survive. Almost a million Vietnamese people tried to flee by sea, and tens of thousand at the very least died. Not being able to survive that journey. Others ended up in refugee camps for years or decades. Before they could leave and some never left those refugee camps. So to call oneself lucky to be a refugee is only possible if one makes it alive to the country that one wanted to go to.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:22:37].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: And I grew up in a Vietnamese refugee community. And I think that a lot of Vietnamese people in Vietnam, might look at the Vietnamese American community and think that the experiences of Vietnamese Americans have always been positive. And that’s probably true in a lot of ways. But it’s more complex. And I think people in Vietnam and people in the Vietnamese diaspora need to think about the nuances of these two experiences. That I can see a lot of Vietnamese refugees who were so devastated and traumatized by their experience of becoming refugees, and then what happened to them in the United States that they never realize the American dream. There are a lot of poor Vietnamese Americans there, and we don’t hear their stories because instead, we prefer to hear the stories of the Vietnamese American successes. And when I went back to [inaudible 00:25:06], to visit my paternal uncles. I think their perception of my family was that we were all very successful. And compared to them, I think that’s generally true. My family was better off economically and so on.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: But I wanted to try to impress on them that my parents paid a very high price for their economic success. That they had to work a lot, that they were shot in their store, and these kinds of complexities I think, get lost in this comparison between the United States and Vietnam. And likewise, I think a lot of Vietnamese Americans may have a hard time understanding the complexities of the people who stayed in Vietnam.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:25:51].

Leo Nguyen: [foreign language 00:27:38]. If there is one ideas to round up this discussion is, I’d like to cite a line from poem, Home by the Somali British poet, Warsan Shire is, “You have to understand no one put their children in a boat unless the water is safer and the land.” [foreign language 00:28:03]. That brings you to stark reality of the horrifying decision that refugee parents have to make in order to take that chance. And if you even lucky enough to make it to the United States of America, you still faces a lot of discriminations especially, earlier 40 years ago, 50 years ago when the refugee just came from Vietnam. So, Viet could you share some of the challenges, some of the discrimination that you faced in San Jose grown up and how that shaped your identity, and how that make you become more resilient? Or what what impact does it leave for you as a human being, as a writer and as an American? So, [foreign language 00:29:01].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: We moved to San Jose, California in the late 1970s. And my parents opened the second Vietnamese grocery store in the city, in downtown San Jose. And they were not the only Vietnamese refugees who opened businesses. A lot of Vietnamese refugees opened businesses in downtown San Jose. And at that time, downtown San Jose was not a place where people want to open businesses. It was really the Vietnamese refugees who came in to a poor area. This was their economic opportunity and they opened a wide variety of stores. And when I was about 10 years old, walking down the street from my parents grocery store, I saw a sign in another store window that said, “Another American driven out of business by the Vietnamese.” And that was my first exposure to anti-Asian racism, in this country. And of course, the problem was that my parents and all the other Vietnamese refugees were doing what they were supposed to do. Pursuing the American dream, opening businesses, revitalizing downtown San Jose. But this person could only see us as an anti-American threat to them.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:31:16].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: I was too young to understand that, that sign, “Another American driven out of business by the Vietnamese” was not directed only at us Vietnamese. That sign was actually simply another version of a very old story in American history, which is another American driven out of business by, fill in the blank. Before us, it had been the Chinese and the Japanese and the Koreans and the Filipinos. We were just the newest Asians who could become the targets of white racism and white economic fear. But it’s a very old story. And when, I’m going to defend perhaps some Vietnamese people. When Donald Trump became president, he used that story to exploit the fears of his white voting base. And not just his white voting base, but voting base that also includes Vietnamese people, by targeting certain kinds of populations. So in his case, it was another American driven out of business by the Mexicans and other kinds of people.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: So I think we as Vietnamese people have to be really sensitive to the fact that this story exists. Because I know a lot of Vietnamese people would say, would be very angry, if racism was directed against them. But they would not be angry if racism was directed at other people. That is wrong. You cannot expect people to defend you, when you are the target of racist attacks. If you yourself, don’t stand up for other people when they become targets of racist attacks. Or if you have been the victim of racism, you cannot turn around and be racist towards other people. But in fact, of course a lot of Vietnamese people are racist towards other people. It’s a deep problem in the Vietnamese community. And for me, my lesson from that time in San Jose was not simply that we Vietnamese people need to defend ourselves. It was we have to all stand up against racism, whenever it’s directed at anybody, not just us.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:35:01]. Discrimination.

Leo Nguyen: [foreign language 00:36:50].

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:36:50].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: The power of racism is so strong that it can make us internalize that racism. So for example, I went to a mostly white high school, but there were some of us who were of Asian descent. So we knew we were different, we just couldn’t put it into words. So every day we would gather for lunch on the campus, and we would call ourselves the Asian invasion, which is a racist term. But that was the only language we had for ourselves. And the reason why is internalized racism, is that in fact Asians have never invaded the United States. It’s the United States that has invaded various Asian countries. But the power of racism is such that it gets us as Asian Americans to blame ourselves for invading this country, and to deflect attention from what the United States has done elsewhere. That’s still a narrative that’s very strong today. Americans are always thinking that they’re under threat of being invaded when it’s really the United States that is present in so many other countries.

Leo Nguyen: [foreign language 00:38:50]. Afghanistan. We’re going to talk about something that is currently in the news and currently that everybody is thinking of, especially with a Vietnamese refugee who see the similarity of Saigon and Kabul. And we will ask Viet, you talk about the moral obligations that the US should takes in refugee because of the war they carry out. Could you elaborate? [foreign language 00:40:27]. Obligation, what that in Vietnamese? [foreign language 00:40:51]. What’s moral obligation, [inaudible 00:40:54]?

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:40:56].

Leo Nguyen: [foreign language 00:40:57].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: Well, first I think that, in general, everybody has a moral obligation to refugees as our fellow human beings. And that is an obligation that I think many people in many countries have a hard time fulfilling. Because one of the things that happens to someone when they become a refugee, is that they become dehumanized. They are put into inhuman conditions in a refugee camp, anybody who’s been through a refugee camp can tell you that it’s inhuman. And they are treated as less than human beings, by many people in other countries who’s immediately looked down on them for circumstances that they’re responsible for. So we are responsible to our fellow human beings. That’s the first issue. But then the second issue specifically for the United States and Afghanistan.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:42:24].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: When it comes to Afghanistan, though, I think the United States does have a special moral and political obligation to aid the Afghan people, especially Afghan refugees. Just as the United States had a special moral obligation to the Vietnamese, the Laotians, the Cambodians, the Mang. Who were all involved in the war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia that the United States helped to propagate. And all these wars are very different from each other. But what what is the same is the fact that the United States did invite itself into these countries and helped to create the conditions that would produce refugees. And by doing so, I think the United States obligates itself to help the people, most of them do not choose to what to have this war that was put on them. And when it comes to the Afghan people. We have created a situation, and I say we because I’m an American too. Where there are hundreds of thousands of Afghans who chose the side of the United States, and believed in American promises, and affiliated themselves with the American military, and the American political system, and the American supported Afghan government.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: We cannot just let those people to base their chances with the Taliban without doing our best to try to help them. And I think for Vietnamese people, Vietnamese Americans in particular, who have helped fight for the United States, so many of us feel this moral obligation because we recognize the similarity of situations with the Afghan people. And I’m harmed by the fact that so many Vietnamese Americans have spoken out about this obligation, that the United States must fulfill to Afghan refugees. Both the ones who are being created today, but almost certainly to the Afghans in the future who will face these these same terrible circumstances. Because if you look at the history of Vietnamese refugees, we were not created just in April 1975. But for decades afterwards, Vietnamese people would try to leave Vietnam because they feared for their lives. And I think the Afghan people will face similar circumstances and we have to be committed to a long term obligation to help them.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:45:45].

Leo Nguyen: [foreign language 00:47:44].

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:47:46].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: Okay. Now this is the part of the show where Viet is humiliated. Okay. I’m ready.

Leo Nguyen: Yes. We propped you up too good. We need to grind you to before we leave this call. No, no. This is fun game.

Bao Tran: Yeah. [foreign language 00:48:29].

Leo Nguyen: You want to also explain it?

Viet Thanh Nguyen: I understand like two words out of this entire… like [foreign language 00:48:52], I get that. And, [00:48:54] is supposed to be like, [foreign language 00:48:55]. I get that too.

Leo Nguyen: Yeah, yeah. So it’s basically [foreign language 00:48:59] means the person who’s too far away from the homeland. [foreign language 00:49:04] which is a lot of different ways, a lot of different feelings. [foreign language 00:49:09] is very complex, stack on top of each other laying messy. So it’s a lot of difference. Not quite the pleasant feelings that people have to go away from their homeland, to try and to live a life. And this is very complex and it’s very messy. That’s this kind of the sentiments of this [foreign language 00:49:33] quote.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: Oh, [foreign language 00:49:35]. Okay. Yeah. I did reject you in English. So I will say that, I feel the meaning of the sentence even if I don’t understand the Vietnamese of the sentence. Because, again, I grew up in this Vietnamese refugee community in the 1970s and 1980s, listening to Vietnamese pop music, and hearing the stories of my parents and our relatives and the larger community. And knowing that we felt the refugee experience very deeply. That the the fact that Vietnamese people seem to enjoy melancholy and sadness, was deeply related to everything we had been through during war time and afterwards. So there is a connection obviously to [foreign language 00:50:29] and the story that’s being told there that resonates with me, but also with this entire generation of people who felt like they were forced to leave their country.

Leo Nguyen: And there is another [foreign language 00:50:48] which I would like to introduce to you and to the audience about the fact that the common denominator here is the abandonment of the United States after waging the war that the people itself in the region, that’s not particularly asked for. And that is the very [foreign language 00:51:07], very middle class saying of, “Oh, not that one. But we were going to go with the [foreign language 00:51:14]. Which is translated into, “Eat the snail and leave the shell.” It’s basically, it’s a very unresponsibility activities to do when you eat the snail and you leave the shell for the next person to clean it up. And basically that is the US imperialism in a nutshell is the militarism too. So something that you feel worse that is just as powerful as [foreign language 00:51:45]. So the next time, you can flex your Vietnamese people that dare to call you a banana. [foreign language 00:51:51].

Leo Nguyen: With that we will understand that the time is limited. And we want to ask you, Viet the questions that the audience have sent in the comments. And I think one of them is also very heartbreaking and the complex is, “How do you feel when you realize that most people actually don’t want to be a refugee?”

Viet Thanh Nguyen: I think that’s a very human response. I’ll give you one example. A lot of the Vietnamese refugees who came in 1975, moved to Louisiana. And 30 years later, Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana. And it’s very strange to say this now because there’s another hurricane Ida bearing down that’s hit Louisiana today. But tens of thousands of people were displaced in 2005, because of Hurricane Katrina. And some of the American media called these people refugees. And President George Bush, at the time, said, “It is unAmerican to call these people refugees.” And a lot of the displaced were African American. And the Reverend Jesse Jackson said, “It is racist to call black people refugees.” And that drives home very clearly this idea that Americans cannot see themselves as refugees, that they see refugees as somehow unAmerican or beneath the status of other Americans so demeaning, that it’s racist to call someone a refugee. And I think that is not an unusual sentiment around the world. So what that means for me, is that as a refugee, I have to say constantly that I am a refugee.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: I think a lot of refugees decide that they’re going to forget their past and not call themselves refugees, because they know what the stigma is around being a refugee. So a lot of refugees call themselves immigrants instead, because that’s more acceptable in the United States. But I for one, a proud refugee. And I think that all of us who have been refugees need to stand up and say so, and stand with the refugees of today.

Bao Tran: Yeah. [foreign language 00:54:24].

Leo Nguyen: [foreign language 00:54:33].

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:54:34].

Leo Nguyen: Okay, yeah.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:54:40].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: So the media, the American media said-

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:55:52]. Yeah

Viet Thanh Nguyen: … some of these people were refugees and George Bush said, “It’s unAmerican to call them refugees.”

Bao Tran: Right. [foreign language 00:56:01].

Leo Nguyen: Yeah. [foreign language 00:57:06]. To have a refugees like Viet accomplish so much. How can you be not proud to be in the ranks of Viet and Tung too. We can’t forget Tung. Doing great for himself. We are proud to be an immigrant and for many people being a refugee too. And Viet we have one last question for you. Also another very burning question in the Vietnamese diaspora community. Zion Johnson asks, “What is the feelings about those Vietnamese that fled and continue to be to demonize and reject their home country?”

Viet Thanh Nguyen: Okay. So before I answer Zion’s question, let me just say that yes, myself and my brother Tung have become successful. And there are a lot of Vietnamese people who are proud of people like us who are successful. But I don’t think that we should be proud of refugees or immigrants only when they become successful. And I don’t think we should base our refugee and immigration policies on the idea that refugees and immigrants have to become successful when they get here. I for one, believe in an America that is equal for all, where everyone has the equal right to be mediocre, just like every other American.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 00:58:39].

Viet Thanh Nguyen: So to answer that question, I think that… I don’t know of too many Vietnamese people who demonize and reject Vietnam. But there are a lot of Vietnamese Americans who demonize and rejects the Communist Party and the government of Vietnam. So these are two separate things. And my personal feeling about this is that I believe that both the Communist Party and government of Vietnam and the Vietnamese diaspora, a lot of which is anticommunist need to reconcile. In the same way that Vietnam and the United States as a whole has reconciled. I find it really unfortunate that these two countries can reconcile, but the relationships between the US government and the Vietnamese diaspora are still very tense. And of course, we see a lot of ways in which the Vietnamese diaspora from many different countries, has returned to Vietnam and has done wonderful things in Vietnam. And that’s terrific. But the question of reconciliation is really important. And I think that both sides have responsibility here.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: And this is why it’s so difficult to reconcile. Because I think in order for reconciliation to happen, both sides have to acknowledge what they have done right, and what they have done wrong in the history of Vietnam. And the challenge is that both sides will insist that they’ve only done the right thing. And that it’s the other side that has done the wrong thing. As long as both sides maintain that position, there will never be a genuine reconciliation. And that’s the challenge that I think the next generation faces. I think the older generation, it’s very, very difficult for them to achieve the kind of reconciliation that I’m talking about because they went through the war directly themselves. They have a lot of hard feelings about that history. It’s really up to this generation, the next generation, for whom history will very definitely be in the past, to have the opportunity to acknowledge both what was right and what was wrong about what their previous generations did.

Bao Tran: [foreign language 01:02:04].

Leo Nguyen: Exactly. So speaking of next generations, and we would like to build community where it build bridges and connects people. That’s why [foreign language 01:04:52], the interpreter and Khong Noi Khong Biet exists. If you get interest, which is reach out to our fan page, you can be a volunteer, you can be a donator. Please help us to build bridges. And lastly, I would like to give a huge thank you to Viet for being here with us. You really inspired us, you share a lot of great stories. I am really passionate about fighting for the rights to everyone to be mediocre because that’s why we’re here for. Pass it back to you, Viet. Yeah.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: Thanks so much, Leo. Thanks so much about Bao Tran. You guys did a great job. You make me feel very stupid because you’re so great in two languages. I can barely speak English. You’re the new generation. You’re smarter than I am. So my hopes are with you. Thanks for having me.

Leo Nguyen: Thank you so much.

Category: Interviews

 

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