A Personal Note

This page is mainly a short journal which mapped the course of my research and my experience with the Amerasians that I’ve met in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. As such it’s very much a personal observation rather than a statement and I sincerely apologise if I have written anything that is deemed offensive to anyone.

The language barrier was probably the biggest hurdle I encountered while working on this project, and although Hung was an excellent interpreter, I felt that much was lost in translation. Despite his intimacy with the topic and his strong relationship with the Amerasian community in HCM City, he tends to have strong opinions and I sometimes felt that he would occasionally inject additional information into an interview whenever he felt necessary rather than a direct translation. I believe it was completely a result of his passion for the Amerasians, their stories, and his work with them. With limited time to build any sort of personal rapport, I sometimes sensed that my interviewees tend to say what they thought I want to hear rather than what it was for them. However, let me say that, ultimately, my serious lack of the knowledge of Vietnamese language had been the biggest stumbling block in the course of this project.

The amount of time available and the lack of funding limited the number of Amerasians I was able to interview and photograph. These constraints also shaped how I approach and work with them since I had to be careful not to invoke the scrutiny of the local authorities. In addition, photographing the subjects going about their daily routines in public often brought on a sense of unease for them.

Personally I found that working on human stories is emotionally draining and sometimes uncomfortable. Many of the Amerasians still recount the story of their life with uncontrollable tears and the line between their rights to private and painful moments and my needs to photograph them expressing their rawest emotions quickly blurred.

I’ve also become extra sensitive to the expectations that some of the Amerasians have put on journalists and photographers who have come to talk to them or take their photos. I’m almost afraid to tell them that there is only so much I can realistically do in the face of the current situation. My photographs can show others what their lives are like and my blog provides a channel to tell their stories beyond a simple photograph and personal data.

However, I must say that the Amerasians whom I have had the privilege to talk to have all been very generous with their time and their emotion especially when I was practically a stranger to them.

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