The Boat People of Vietnam: Unveiling the Stories Through Oral History and Photography

Katherine Lauri Johnson


This project is focused on documenting the personal history of “the boat people” in St. Cloud, M.N. and Minneapolis, M.N. In order to honorably record these stories I interviewed three boat people: Phuoc Tran, Hoa Nyugen and Hui Nyugen. I recorded these in depth interviews and later transcribed them. In transcribing the interviews I was led to a larger realization of how important oral history is to our community as a whole. Not only is it important to “ask” our neighbors about their history, it is pertinent we document their stories. I have never believed history to be limited to writing or speaking. Art and in this case, photography is a raw reflection of our history. In this project one can absorb the stories of the boat people visually, orally and intellectually. The historical context essay grounds this story in its historical setting. The Vietnamese perspective of the Vietnam War is a history we as Americans need to be aware of. I hope this project serves as a portal to the echoes of numerous stories waiting to be told by the boat people of Vietnam.