SAN DIEGO – San Diego’s Vietnamese-American community is the subject of a new multi-media arts exhibition opening to the public on Friday, Jan. 18 in the Little Saigon District in City Heights. “Little Saigon Stories” is a visual story-telling project facilitated by the Media Arts Center San Diego, in collaboration with the AjA Project, Little Saigon Foundation and El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association.
Little Saigon Stories was designed as a platform for youth to capture, preserve and share the first-hand accounts of inter-generational members of the Vietnamese-American community. Over the past 1.5 years, program facilitators have trained high school students and young adults to conduct oral history interviews, develop their story-telling skills through video and photography, and engage with community residents to discuss their memories of Vietnam, journeys to the United States and rebuilding of their lives in San Diego.
The first public exhibition of Little Saigon Stories will take place on Friday, Jan. 18 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a dynamic, multi-dimensional takeover of public space at 4350 El Cajon Boulevard (between Fairmount Avenue and 44th Street) in City Heights. The event is free and will include food vendors, live performances, storyteller’s booth, raffle prizes, and beer and wine for purchase.
The exhibition will then move to at least two other public locations within the greater City Heights community, including at the San Diego Tet Festival (February 8-10) and to the heart of the Little Saigon District (at Menlo Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard) in March. An online digital archive of stories will also be made available at www.mediaartscenter.org/littlesaigon.
Little Saigon Stories aims to open a dialogue about issues such as refugee immigration, community development and economic growth, as wells as to serve as a catalyst for other arts and cultural events, youth-based programs, oral history-gathering sessions and place-making activities in the Little Saigon Cultural District.
The program was made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and California Humanities, with additional support from LISC San Diego and the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.
“This monumental project is quite amazing, as it will encourage insightful conversations throughout the Little Saigon District and help bridge the generational gaps of the Vietnamese-American community,” said Michael Tran, Little Saigon committee chair for the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association.
“It is an honor to work with the Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American community in San Diego and to highlight this rich culture that has been quietly present for many years,” said Natalia Valerdi-Rogers, education and outreach manager for Media Arts Center San Diego. “I look forward to bringing this video and photo installation to life in the urban center of City Heights for all to enjoy.”
About Media Arts Center San Diego
Media Arts Center San Diego (MACSD) endorses the inclusion of under-represented communities in the media arts field and the portrayal of accurate images of these communities by mainstream media. MACSD promotes community access to and use of media technology for community self-expression and social change, and supports the professional development of media artists. More information is available at www.mediaartscenter.org.
About The AjA Project
The mission of The AjA’s Project is to provide photography-based programming to transform the lives of youth and communities. The AjA Project exists to ignite change, break cycles of marginalization and build healthy communities. The AjA Project does this through a creative platform called participatory photography that asks participants to reflect on and analyze their personal and social landscapes. More information is available at www.ajaproject.org.
About the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association
Formed in 1988, the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association is an economic development agency comprised of over 1,000 local small businesses committed to improving the physical and economic conditions along the El Cajon Boulevard corridor and its surrounding neighborhoods in Mid-City San Diego. The district encompasses 60 blocks along El Cajon Boulevard, from Park Boulevard to 54th Street, including the communities of University Heights, North Park, Normal Heights, Kensington, Talmadge and City Heights. More information is available at www.theboulevard.org.