New Student Assistant

Hello, my name is Nhi Thảo Nguyễn. I am currently in my third year at UCI, double majoring in Asian American Studies and Social Science: Multicultural Studies. I was born in Biên Hoà, Vietnam, and came to the United States with my family in February 1993 through the HO Program for former Communist “re-education” camp prisoners and their families. My father, a former second lieutenant in the South Vietnamese Army, was captured prior to the fall of Saigon and spent about seven years in three different Communist camps. Through high school, my family lived in the Mission Viejo area, which was primarily Caucasian. Shortly before entering UCI, my family bought our first home in Westminster near the Vietnamese American community. I entered UCI as a Biological Sciences major but became interested in Asian American Studies through taking departmental courses during my second year. Being an Asian American Studies major has taught me a tremendous deal about the history of Asian Americans and current issues that face them as they continue to make strides and break down stereotypical barriers that exist in society. Having always been a rather reserved and introverted person who admittedly was rather oblivious of world happenings, I credit my entrance and immersion into the Asian American Studies major as a crucial factor in enabling me to more strongly and confidently voice my thoughts and opinions and initiating in me a process of identity exploration and, consequently, reconstruction, which is still currently a constant continuing process. This year, I am working on a thesis project titled “Shaping Second Generation Identity: The Influence of the Family and Educational/Social Environment on U.S.-Born Vietnamese Americans” for the Honors in Asian American Studies program with the assistance of my faculty mentor, Professor Linda Võ.

I enjoy working in the Southeast Asian Archive because working here has made me more aware of the archival materials that currently exist on Southeast Asians and how important it is to document and preserve the history and experiences of Southeast Asian refugees. I have visited the archive numerous times in the past and have realized how important its resources are in preserving the cultural heritage and documenting the present and future of Southeast Asians. Working at the archive under the kind and knowledgeable guidance of Anne Frank encourages me to become more interested in my Vietnamese history and culture, which has always been instilled in me by my parents but I have only recently begun an active and, I hope, eventual extensive exploration into it. My third year at UCI has been thus far crucial in shaping my personal identity, which I am still discovering but that will always be shaped by my Vietnamese American identity.