Kaitlyn Soto

Unsafe Passage: A Generational Story of Vietnamese “Boat People”

Mentor: Alison Williams

My project tells an emotional story of my mother’s immigration from Vietnam to the United States. Escaping the hardships of the Vietnam War, my mother was separated from her family of thirteen and left to flee to the United States in the care of her grandfather. My mother’s heartbreaking yet inspiring story seeks to explain what pushes people to leave their homes. It also reveals the larger narrative of the many people who were “in the same boat” as my mother at the time. I want to posit my mother’s escape from Vietnam as a pivotal experience that weaves together the three generations of our family, my mother, her parents, and her children. This multimodal project will describe the lives of the boat people, my mother and her parents, once they finally settled in the United States. Additionally, I will include my own childhood experiences and struggles with cultural identities as I describe the realities of growing up as a child of immigrant parents. Through this, I want to demonstrate the rippling effects of immigration across generations and show how all of our lives have been affected by it and how we have strived to strengthen family bonds through stories told, inherited, and passed on.

See Kaitlyn’s zine Unsafe Passage: A Generational Story of Vietnamese “Boat People”