Vietnamese Language Movement @ UC Davis

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“As a second generation Vietnamese American, although I’ve had limited opportunities to learn and master Vietnamese as a child, I have more recently begun to lose the ability to fluently articulate myself to my family or my community as I've grown older and predominantly communicated in English for most of my life." - Student at UC Davis

What is necessary now more than ever for those with similar stories at UC Davis is the creation and implementation of Vietnamese language courses at UC Davis, to address the overwhelming linguistic barriers between self, family, school, and community. Students with families speaking different languages understand the difficulty of surmounting the language barrier and mastering a second or even third language. These issues emphasize the importance of language courses which not only provide communication, but also a deeper understanding for another culture’s history.

Like other schools in California, UC Davis provides useful resources, including plentiful language courses. Despite having Asian Americans comprise 42% of the school population, with Vietnamese being the second largest denomination in that group, UC Davis still does not offer Vietnamese language courses. Though UC Davis is a research institution with international affiliates, we are lagging behind other California universities and colleges such as UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, Stanford, De Anza College, and Evergreen Valley College which already offer Vietnamese language courses.

"I’ve hoped that my school would provide me with Vietnamese language courses since UC Davis already has so many (12!) from Arabic to Russian.” - Student at UC Davis

UC Davis has a Department in Asian American Studies, the emerging New Viet Nam Studies Initiative, and eventually will have the East and Southeast Studies Program. Vietnamese language should be offered to support these departments and research groups. UC Davis already has language courses in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Chinese (to name a few); it is appalling that Vietnamese is not on the list. Aside from being able to understand Vietnamese culture and history at a deeper level, learning Vietnamese has many practical uses that may prepare a student for the international professional workforce, provide opportunities to expand community development, and general interdisciplinary experiences.

Vietnam, with a population of 94 million, is the fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia. As of early January 2017, Vietnam holds an economic growth rate of above 6% while the rest of Asia’s economy slows down. California, with one of the top 10 largest economies in the world, is also the state with the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam; as of 2014, 40% of Vietnamese immigrants reside in California. California is dotted with thriving “Little Saigon” enclaves that operate bilingually and host businesses still owned by first-generation Vietnamese immigrants. There are also dozens of study abroad programs based in Vietnam such as Project Vietnam (a medical mission) and other various internships. Thus, educating students in Vietnamese language is a skill that can benefit them in their careers both locally, nationally, and internationally.

We request your support for this movement to bring our very first Vietnamese language course to UC Davis. With your support for this campaign, we can prove to administrative leadership at UC Davis that there is a need and that we have support from our community.

We thank you for your time and support.

Vietnamese Language Movement @ UC Davis

New Viet Nam Studies Initiative

Vietnamese Cancer Awareness Research and Education Society, Incorporated (VN CARES INC.)

Vietnamese Student Association at the University of California, Davis (VSA)

The following have endorsed the Vietnamese Language Class at UC Davis:

- Bac Tran (Instructor of Vietnamese Languages at Evergreen Valley College) 
- Dzuong Nguyen (Instructor of Vietnamese Languages at Stanford and College of Alameda) 
- Kimloan Hill (Professor of the Linguistic Department at UC San Diego) 
- Quyen Di Chuc Bui (Instructor of Vietnamese Languages at UCLA) 
- Caroline Kieu-Linh Valverde (Associate Professor of Asian American Studies at UC Davis)
- Thu-huong Nguyen-Vo (Associate Professor of Southeast Asian and Asian American Studies at UCLA)
- Tri Tran (Instructor of Vietnamese Languages at UCI) 
- Bao Nguyen (Former Mayor of Garden Grove, Member of the Dean's Leadership Society at UCI School of Social Sciences)

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