The Vietnam War is one of the most controversial events in American history that still haunts many today. For the Vietnamese tragedy continued for many years after the war ended in 1975. Those that were from south Vietnam were sent to 'reeducation camps' where conditions were life threatening and torturous. Farm lands, personal possessions, and private commerce were all eradicated and regulated under the communist regime. And after a century of foreign domination and decades at war, the country’s land and infrastructure was severely damaged and industries underdeveloped. Thus, people were unemployed, millions starved, neighbors looted, economic depression spread and the country was left in despair.
Despite the horrible living conditions, leaving Vietnam was considered an illegal act by the government. Not giving up hope, some Vietnamese began to form underground groups to organize escapes in makeshift boats that sailed into the treacherous seas. This generation of Vietnamese refugees are known as the "Boat People". They risked their lives so their children could have a chance at freedom and a future. Their stories are ones of loss, separation, survival and resiliency.
The mass exodus of Vietnamese refugees started in 1975 thru to the early 1990s, with the peak between 1979-1985. There are no clear statistics on how many people attempted the escapes or exact figures on how many died along the journey. Estimates of deaths have ranged from 200,000 to 600,000, from pirate attacks, rape, torture, prosecution, drowning and starvation. The Vietnamese Boat People generation is an aging population with stories of courage and hope and refugee experiences that need to be preserved as part of the Vietnam War history.
Vietnamese Boat People (VBP) is a podcast and non-profit with the mission to preserve and carry forward the stories of the Vietnamese diaspora. We aim to educate and inspire listeners on the diaspora history of the Vietnamese community and connect people through stories of the human spirit. In addition to the podcast, our public programs empower people to preserve their own stories through storytelling workshops and events, story slams, community blogs, conversation kits and journey mapping. The work of VBP helps to lift up marginalized voices and shine a light on untold stories.
preserve our stories
in our voices
Empower families to document their stories
Encourage intergenerational dialogue
Instill pride in our history and culture
Share our lived experiences as part of world history
Profile marginalized voices and untold stories
Take part in shaping the Asian American narrative
evoke compassion and empathy
Connect people through stories of the human spirit
Build greater understanding of the overall migrant experience
Inspire the community to support today’s refugees
Hi, my name is Tracey Nguyễn Mang, and I was a boat person.
I was born Nguyễn Quán Trường Anh, the youngest of seven children, in Nha Trang Vietnam in 1977. When I was only one, my father and oldest brother fled our country by boat. After that, my three older brothers made the same risky escape. And in 1981, my mother braved the journey with three girls under the age of 10.
We were one of the lucky ones that survived. Three separate escapes, three different refugee camps and three years later, reunited in America as one family. This statement oversimplifies the journey. But the story of how we got here, is anything but simple.
Join me on the journey of preserving my family's story and the stories of hundreds of thousands of other Vietnamese Boat People.
We are a team of passionate volunteers and contributors, from students to experienced professionals. We are proud to contribute our skills and free time to this mission and are always looking for volunteers to join our growing family.
If you are interested, let us know by completing this form.
Interested in contributing?
Explore our Ambassador Program
The VBP Ambassador Program began in 2020 and supported by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, an independent non-profit organization and state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. This is a volunteer-based role to help VBP connect with local communities and to shape and amplify the narrative of the Vietnamese diaspora. Recruiting for the next cohort will reopen in 2024.