In the middle of September, ESR Nastassia Sersté and Professor Sabine Lee attended 2 workshops at Queen’s University at Kingston, Canada. The first workshop was about the data analysis on Vietnamese GI Children, which took place on September 11th and 12th, 2017. This project was already explained in previous articles wrote by Nastassia Sersté [link on researcher page to Canada 2016, US 2017 and VN 2017]. The second workshop was about the data analysis of the peacebabies project in Haiti, which took place on the afternoon of September 12th to 13th, 2017. These workshops were set up by ChiBOW partner Dr. Susan Bartels (Queen’s University at Kingston, Canada). Laurie Webster (pictured below) of QED Insight with her husband the mathematician Steve DeLong, coordinated the analysis workshop.
The Vietnam-related meeting brought together many of the Wellcome-Trust funded project partners such as Truong Thi Thu Hang (Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City, Department of Anthropology, Vietnam), Le Thi Ngoc Phuc (one of the research assistants in Vietnam) and the American psychiatrist Robert McKelvey (Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, USA) as well as Professor Sabine Lee, Susan Bartels and Nastassia Sersté.
This project studies the life courses of children fathered by an American soldier and born to a Vietnamese mother during the Vietnam War and to have a better understanding of their life experiences. It was decided to focus our research on three distinct cohorts of Amerasians: those who are still living in Vietnam, those who emigrated to the US following the Amerasian Homecoming Act and those who were evacuated as babies and toddlers from Vietnam by the Operation Babylift. We used SenseMaker® as a pilot methodology for this study.
The analysis was very interesting and revealed many insights.
In general, we noticed compelling points about the participation of the informants. First the SenseMaker® survey on the iPad was preferable than the online survey. Indeed, of the 200 people who accessed the online questionnaire only 10 of them responded and completed the survey. Participation in the tablet-based data collection was better and we were able to see significant differences in responses from Amerasians living in Vietnam compared to those residing in the US.
It is worth noting considerable reluctance to participation from the Amerasians in the US due to a level of concern over the use of data, especially in view of the international collaboration which also included a Vietnamese partner. Past experiences with Vietnamese authorities led to reservations about future collaboration. In contrast, Amerasians in Vietnam were very enthusiast to take part in the project.
Data collection in Vietnam, in itself logistically complex, was greatly helped by an excellent research team, comprising research assistants as well as the community leaders of Amerasians groups (Quynh Lê in Vietnam and Jimmy Miller in the US). This observation shows that we were blessed to be in contact with Amerasian communities in Vietnam and in the US but on the other hand we couldn’t collect data from those outside the communities. In addition, the research in Vietnam captured a significant proportion of Amerasians still living in Vietnam, and aside from the valuable qualitative material collected in the stories, we are confident that the quantitative data is meaningful and has, indeed, representative character.
Regarding the methodology, we observed that for most people interviewed in Vietnam, it was the first time they had participated in research about their life courses. Furthermore, many Amerasians in Vietnam are illiterate so it was a challenge for them as it was for our RAs to understand, to explain and to respond the survey. Finally, we have to thank the work of the translators and transcribers in Vietnam for the Vietnamese data because it was difficult, especially regarding the interviews made in the provinces where the accents are different from HCMC and sometimes it is very difficult to translate because some words or expressions don’t exist in English.
Concerning the content, the majority of the informants chose to tell a story about themselves. Many talked about discrimination, stigmatization, poverty, sexual violence, the lack of education and finally the hope for a better life especially concerning their own children. For many of the Amerasians in Vietnam it was the first time they could talk about these issues, truly, without fear. In the past, they avoided to talk about their origins, their experiences as mixed-race children of a GI soldier and a Vietnamese mother. Of course, those Amerasians living in Vietnam shared their experiences in Vietnam while those in the US talked about their experiences in Vietnam, more than their experiences in the US. The results showed us that Black Amerasians face more discriminated and are less confident due to their darker skin, particularly in Vietnam.
We could also see through the results, the extreme poverty of Amerasians in Vietnam. It seems pretty clear that the economic situation is better for Amerasians in the US than in Vietnam.
So as you have read, this article gives a quick overview of the data collected both in Vietnam and in the US. This study was very interesting and we continue to work deeper on this subject. For the next, publication and conference are coming soon.