Vietnam to Austin: Cultivating a Future - Austin History Center

Vietnam to Austin: Cultivating a Future

Brought together by a shared cultural history and experiences of displacement, Vietnamese Americans in Austin have created various community organizations to ensure their memories, culture, and identity are preserved and shared with the next generation.

Austin's Chinatown

[Chinatown Plaza in Austin], 2008, AR.2009.048(239)b, "Vietnam to Austin: Restoring Community" Exhibit Collection

This 180,000 sq. foot retail center is located in North Austin at the intersection of N. Lamar and W. Braker Lane and includes over 20 Asian-owned businesses and organizations. Having opened in 2006, Chinatown’s largest store is MT Supermarket, a 68,000 square-foot grocery store that sells a variety of seafood, produce, and Asian food items. Many Vietnamese stores and restaurants also serve the growing population of Asians within the 5-mile radius of Chinatown.

Vietnamese Dual Language Program

[Students and teacher] 2008, AR.2009.048 (198), "Vietnam to Austin: Restoring Community" Exhibit Collection

Dr. Chat Thiet started the Vietnamese bilingual program in 1983 at Walnut Creek Elementary School. This program offers students, whose primary language is Vietnamese, help with their classwork to make the transition into English-only classrooms easier.  It also provides in-class and after-school programs that teach Vietnamese culture and language so that the students can maintain their own heritage. The students showcase what they learn in these programs at various festivals and the Lunar New Year Festival called Tết. Now serving over 200 students, the AISD Vietnamese bilingual program moved from Walnut Creek Elementary School to Summit Elementary School in 2008. 

Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation (VAHF)

[Flag of the U.S., Guam, and South Vietnam] 2008, AR.2009.048 (161), "Vietnam to Austin: Restoring Community" Exhibit Collection

In 2004, VAHF was formed to provide resources about Vietnamese Americans to researchers, students, policymakers, and the general public. The goal is to collect materials about the history and culture of Vietnamese people in America. This work continues today through an oral history project to document the unique life experiences of Vietnamese Americans in their own words.They also have a collection of over 200,000 pages of documents, images, official records and personal correspondence that highlight the moral and humanitarian contributions of the United States to its South Vietnamese allies. This collection is now housed at the Vietnam Center at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. VAHF has collaborated with The University of Texas, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, Austin History Center, and other institutions to organize exhibitions. VAHF members have also organized several programs to honor well-known individuals in both the Vietnamese American community and the general public.

Youth and Young Professional Organizations

[Vietnamese American youth] undated, AR.2009.048 (181), "Vietnam to Austin: Restoring Community" Exhibit Collection

The Vietnamese American community in Austin is energetic and flourishing, as personified by this group of young people at a Youth Leadership Development Camp sponsored by the Vietnamese Culture and Science Association (VCSA). Founded in 1990, VCSA is based in Houston with over 500 members, mostly young Vietnamese American professionals in US and Canada.  VCSA promotes excellence in education and leadership and encourages civic participation through various events and programs. VCSA-Austin Chapter started in 2001.