Refugio Campamento // Refugee Camp
35mm Disposable Camera
Parque Torres Del Paine, Dec 2014
My father wonders how I can leave everything to go here alone
But at this southern tip of the world,
seemingly so far from anything even remotely Vietnamese,
I see the words “Chile” and “Vietnam” in the same sentence
Viet Nam still haunts me,
Viet Nam nudges at me from the peripheries of historical pages,
Viet Nam will never leave me alone.
Last year, I moved for the first time in my life away from Los Angeles California, where I was born and raised, to study in Santiago de Chile.
Although travel was not a part of my childhood, Globalization has always been at the periphery of my worldview because of who my parents are. The bloody consequences of international interactions was too intimately tied to the destiny of my own family to ignore. And perhaps that was the reason why I felt the need to leap 5000 miles away...
My parents migrated to another continent in their early 20’s too —
Except theirs involved hopping onto a fishing boat in the middle of the night and through several refugee camps. I don’t see my traveling as anything remotely similar to what my parents went through during their migration: Theirs didn’t have the financial and institutional backing of a university and it certainly did not have the promise of ever coming back.
I didn't grow up with a Vietnamese community outside of my own extended family, aside from our sporadic pilgrimages to Little Saigon to buy loads of Vietnamese food. My access to feeling truly Vietnamese was hindered by my lack of language skills and culturally, Vietnamese American identity seemed so entwined in the cultural politics of anti-communism that it seemed essentially opposed my own developing anti-imperialist view of the world.
I spent my senior year of college actively pursuing my vietnameseness; that is to say, I scrapped together the leftover time and emotional energy outside of my classes, jobs, and student organizing to learn some hxstory, contextualize, and be a part of a Vietnamese American community.
Viet Nam, elsewhere is a personal journal created to make sense of my intersecting worlds, which seem all at once colliding and dividing.