Asian Refugees in America

Narratives of Escape and Adaptation


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About the Book

When Eleanor Swent began teaching English as a second language in 1967 at a school for adults in Oakland, California, she soon learned that many of the Asian immigrants in her classes had remarkable tales to tell of struggles in their homelands and their efforts to make new lives in America. This oral history, based on interviews Swent conducted with her students over thirty years, documents the Asian immigrant experience as never before. Here are the stories of desperate individuals who swam to escape from China to Macao and Hong Kong; of Chinese daughters considered worthless by their families; of political refugees from Vietnam; of ethnic Chinese who fled by boat from Vietnam; of refugees from the genocide in Cambodia. As these remarkable new Americans learn different words and customs, they also enlarge our national vision, enriching our culture while assuring us that human dignity can rise above terrible circumstances.

About the Author(s)

In addition to teaching, Eleanor Herz Swent has also been a research interviewer and a senior editor at the Regional Oral History Office at the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in Palo Alto, California.

Bibliographic Details

Eleanor Herz Swent

Foreword by Judy Yung

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 233
Bibliographic Info: 20 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6339-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8632-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi
Foreword by Judy Yung      1
Preface      5

Chapter 1. Newcomers from China      13
Chapter 2. Newcomers from Vietnam      50
Chapter 3. The First Wave, 1975      52
Chapter 4. Looking Back, Years Later      68
Chapter 5. The Second Wave, The “Boat People”      123
Chapter 6. Newcomers from Cambodia      204
Chapter 7. The Land of the Free      211

Chapter Notes      213
Bibliography      221
Index      223