Fund This: They Call Us Viet Kieu

A 28-page illustrated book about a trip to Vietnam that transformed an artist and her family

Minnie Phan is a Bay Area artist in her final year of art school, currently working on a senior thesis project about her family and the Vietnamese American community, based on her own experiences. They Call Us Viet Kieu is a 28-page illustrated book about a trip to Vietnam that transformed Minnie and her family.

She recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the printing of the book. Thanks to generous funders, she's already blown way past her initial goal, plus several stretch goals allowing her to print copies of the book in both English and Vietnamese. The book is definitely getting published, and it looks great.

The campaign is in its final days, and if the project reaches its next goal, she'll be able to print a thousand English copies to send to libraries, universities and community centers across the country. Here's some more information on the project:

The painting you see above this text is of my parents at a refugee camp in Hong Kong.

23 years ago, my parents became known as 'boat people' and escaped Vietnam in hopes of a brighter future. They were at sea for roughly 30 days before reaching China and then were granted access to America three years later.

My name is Minnie Phan and I was born in the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in a household where the past was never spoken of, and my desire for a punk rock life style left my relationship with my parents distant and torn. I rebelled against the culture my parents had given me.

In the summer of 2013, I won a scholarship to visit Vietnam for the first time in 15 years.

What came from this experience was a new understanding of my parents and the stories they left on the shores of Vietnam.

When I returned to America, I illustrated this trip as my senior Illustration thesis at the California College of the Arts.

The moment I arrived to Saigon, I was labeled “Việt Kiều”, a term used by Vietnamese citizens to refer to Vietnamese people living in other countries. In the United States, I did not feel like an American, and yet in Vietnam, I was not even a true Vietnamese. But this didn't hold me back. My trip transformed into a journey about my cultural identity and the importance of family. I went 21 years of my life disliking my own skin. But after this journey, I was changed.
Like I said, the project is fully funded -- a pledge of $20 will definitely get you a copy. I think it sounds like an awesome project, and judging from Minnie's art, it's going to be a beautiful book, so I just figured people should know about it before the deadline. To make a pledge, head over to Indiegogo. And to see more of Minnie's art, visit her website.

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