Quotes by Nguyen Viet Thang

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Every new refugee to a society, whether it's the United States or some other place, is subjected to fear. They are the new outsider population, the new other. more...

40, 50 years ago, Americans - the majority of Americans did not want to accept these Vietnamese refugees who they saw as completely foreign. Now there are new foreigners - Syrians and other people from the Middle East, people of Muslim backgrounds. And the sense among many Americans is, well, these people are completely different from us, and they're not like the Vietnamese who are much more assimilable. And I think that's very, very doubtful. I think that the majority of these new foreigners, if given the opportunity, will be able to assimilate and deal with American culture. more...

You have to wear a different face when you're interacting with the larger culture. And you can be more of yourself at home or in the local market or in the local church speaking your own language. That was my sense growing up as a Vietnamese refugee in San Jose. more...

I think my parents' lives are worthy of writing about. I don't think my life is particularly worthy of writing about. more...

People might like to think a war is done when a cease fire is signed, but for most people who lived through a war it goes on for decades. more...

In the United States, we want to believe we will never become a country of refugees. more...

Immigrants, as troubling as they are to some people, are an integral part of what the American Dream is supposed to be. They're understandable to a considerable number of Americans. more...

Refugees have been displaced by war or natural disaster or political catastrophes, and they are much more threatening because they are reminders to people that all the comforts that we take for granted can be taken away in just a moment. more...

If you're a so-called minority writer, the temptation is to write for the majority... I refuse to do that. more...

Hollywood in many ways serves as the unofficial ministry of propaganda for the United States. more...

Writers from the majority can assume their audiences know what they're talking about - they don't have to explain things, whereas minority writers are expected to. more...

I've never stopped being a refugee. more...

By college, I had a really grand, preposterous vision of myself as becoming a writer, but I don't think I had the discipline or the patience - or the ability or the humility. It took 20 years to acquire those things. more...

I never called myself a writer because it seemed so pretentious - a writer was what somebody else called you, a title bestowed. more...

No one wants for their child to become a refugee. It's an awful experience. more...

In the United States, the immigrant experience occupies a very central place in American mythology. And sometimes, that place wavers between acceptance and rejection. more...

Refugees are threatening, not just to Americans, but also in many countries the world over. And it's partially because, unlike immigrants, refugees do not choose where they're going to go or why they're fleeing, and they are unwanted populations. They bring with them the stigma of disaster. more...

The refugees are not only going to be a demand on the country's resources, but also the refugees raise the possibility that the countries that they're going to are themselves not as stable as the citizens would like, I think. We're all just one catastrophe away from ending up as a refugee, and we don't want to be reminded of that. more...

Immigrants who voluntarily come to a country have already made a decision to assimilate to one degree or another. Probably not completely, but they've committed to the place, and they know that they need to make certain kinds of concessions. They change themselves in some way to fit in. They're looking forward as much as they're still looking backward. more...

Refugees, especially in their early years, are still caught up in the experience that made them refugees. And they're much more melancholic. They're much more oriented towards the past and towards the country of origin. That can make the process of becoming a part of the new country much more fraught for them. more...

I think all immigrants and refugees are preoccupied with memories to one degree or another. But again, this question of how much to remember and how much to forget is really aggravated for those who have lost a tremendous amount. more...

Immigrants who come to a country are going to lose something, for sure, but they hope to gain a great deal by making this journey, whereas refugees by definition have lost a tremendous amount - not just country and society, but also more personal things like careers, prestige, status, relatives, identities. This inevitably makes the longing to remember the past even more powerful among refugees, to the point of often debilitating them. more...

Growing up in the U.S., I was certainly deeply aware of the power of American media, specifically Hollywood and television, in terms of broadcasting a particular vision of what the American experience was like. As someone coming from a war that was a preoccupation of Americans in the 1980s, it did strike me that since we were a part of that war, we should have a chance to talk about ourselves. more...

People may be vaguely aware that there's suffering in Iraq and Afghanistan, but simply because the media are filled with American-centric versions, we still see the experiences through the American perspective. We are just completely ignorant of what might be happening to other people. more...

My identity is deeply intertwined with being a refugee because that's the first experience that I remember. more...

When I was growing up, I cared very little for the customs of my parents, the special things that we're supposed to do as Vietnamese people. But now that I am a parent, I go out of my way to make sure that my son goes to visit his grandparents and participates in customs like the Lunar New Year celebration. more...


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