One month ago, Sabine Lee and ESR Nastassia Sersté travelled to Chicago to join local research assistant Elaine Thai to interview Amerasians living in the US as part of the Wellcome-Trust-funded project on "Life courses of Vietnamese GI children".
The occasion was the annual Reunion of Amerasians Without Borders (AWB), a group representing the interests of Amerasians in the US and Vietnam, organized by Jimmy Miller, the group’s founder. Several hundred Amerasian from around the US came to spend the weekend together.
Jimmy Miller and the AWB kindly agreed to facilitate the research project. Miller is himself an Amerasian, fathered by a US serviceman named James A. Miller and born to a Vietnamese mother during the Vietnam War, on December 25th, 1967. He spent his childhood and youth in Vietnam until 1990 when he emigrated to the US with his mother and siblings, under the "Amerasian Homecoming Act". Jimmy Miller now lives in Spokane Valley in the US.
He founded AWB in 2009 as a nonprofit support group for Amerasians born during the Vietnam War. He is currently working to help Amerasians find their fathers and/or mothers and to help those still in Vietnam to facilitate immigration to the US. All of this is possible due to donations, mainly collected during huge events such as the AWB's Reunion.
This year, the Reunion took place in Chicago from Friday July 7th to Sunday 9th, 2017. Besides many Amerasians - including some whom we had already met at the first meeting in California last February - Miller also invited several people linked to the Amerasian cause who had the opportunity to present themselves on the stage during Saturday's diner. The event started with the American and Vietnamese National Anthems, followed by a series of speeches. We first listened to the team of the AWB's cabinet 2017-2018 and after this, other guest speakers took to the stage. First Sabine Lee presented the Wellcome-Trust sponsored research project on life courses of Amerasians in the US and Vietnam in a few words. Following this we heard from Mr. Ned Piper from Longview (Washington) who told of his experience of finding his Amerasian nephew Quoc Ngo. Ned, better known as "Uncle Ned", came with his sister "Auntie Jane", who were both very happy to take part in the celebration of the support group. Then, Mrs Andrea Olmanson from Eau Claire (Wisconsin) shared some details about her work on using DNA to help Amerasians find their fathers. Afterwards, a Vietnam Veteran from Chicago, Mr Joe Hertel, took the microphone to express his support toward the AWB group and the work helping Amerasians who remain in Vietnam. He was followed by Captain James Van Thach, an Amerasian and Iraq Veteran who also expressed his support toward the AWB group.
The event closed on Sunday, leaving a short time to see some of the sights of Chicago.
Sabine Lee and Nastassia Sersté visited the Bahai temple, a place of worship for all religions, which perfectly ended the weekend.
Lee and Sersté returned to Europe tired but with additional interviews collected. Next, they will organise and participate in a workshop in September to analyse the data collected in Vietnam and in the US during 2017.