Episode 66: Bringing Vietnamese refugee stories to light

In this conversation you’ll hear about three intersecting narratives, that of a dedicated scholar and teacher, the stories of the Vietnamese students she worked with, and the editors who carried on that teacher’s work and realized her students’ stories. Khánh Minh Lê, Julian Costa and Gabriel Da Silva discuss the value of mentorship, authentic self-expression and the woefully inadequate coverage of the experiences of Vietnamese refugees in the U.S. Julian and Gabriel talk with Khánh about their co-edited collection of these stories by Dr. Dean’s students, What They Know: Reflections of Vietnam. The book is described as “a collection of essays written by Vietnamese refugees who vividly depict their memories of fear, danger, hope, and strength as they escaped Vietnam during one of the darkest periods of the twentieth century. Their stories provide a glimpse into this period that is grossly underemphasized by historical curricula, and remind us of the resilience of the human spirit in dangerous situations.” The collection was brought to fruition by Julian and Gabriel – Rebecca Dean passed away in 2021 – and will soon be available via Amazon.

Khánh Minh Lê is a Substitute Instructor in Multilingual Literacies at Queens College and a PhD candidate in Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center. As a child of a refugee family and a product of the Vietnam War, his research is at the intersection of translanguaging, transtrauma, and transmethodology. He is the recipient of the Graduate Center Fellowship, The Dissertation Year Fellowship, The University Provosts Fellowship, the Advanced Research Collaborative Grant, and Fulbright Hays Grant. The article/interview he references early in the conversation can be found here.

Julian Costa is an adjunct professor in the Humanities Department at the New York City College of Technology, where he teaches courses in public speaking. 

Gabriel Da Silva is a junior in the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University.  He is the 2021 recipient of the Morris-Lerner Scholarship for Excellence in Public Speaking, sponsored by the Union of Adjunct Faculty at Pace. He co-authored a chapter in the forthcoming book, Online Instructional Communication, by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Rebecca Dean, 1985

Dr. Rebecca Dean was a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh where her focus was cultural studies.  Throughout her career, she taught courses in communication, film analysis, and other humanities subjects.  At the time of her retirement in 2019, she was Professor of Communications/Theatre at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Listen to Episode 66 now.

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