The Vietnamese Community in Orange County




California is the topmost state that is populated by Asian Americans in the whole United States.
Having 2.2 million people, Vietnamese Americans make up 10% of the population as of 2019. The Little Saigon in Orange County has been home to many Vietnamese Americans since the 1980s. It covers cities in Orange County including Fountain Valley, Garden Grove and Huntington Beach.




A mall within Little Saigon

Photo Courtesy of KCET


In April 1975, the first batch of Vietnamese arrived at Camp Pendleton from South Vietnam. This camp is one of four emergency processing centers that is set to receive evacuees from Vietnam. There were tent cities wherein about 50,000 Vietnamese were processed. Afterwards, Vietnamese resettled in Orange County to find labor at defense and high-tech industries that were located nearby. Many years have passed since and Little Saigon in Orange County has evolved to a venue capable of providing the economic, social, linguistic and cultural needs of Vietnamese Americans inside its vicinity.

Part of the culture of Vietnamese Americans is the lunar New Year or Tet. Many Vietnamese Americans gather at Little Saigon coming from different parts of the United States and even from other countries such as France and Australia. Ever since the foundation of the community, the Tet was already being organized by the Vietnamese American community. This shows how Vietnamese Americans are passionate about their culture.


Lunar New Year or Tet


Photo Courtesy of Vietnam Times


Little Saigon is also home to Nguoi Viet Daily News, the largest Vietnamese language daily newspaper in the United States. The name of the newspaper translates to “Vietnamese people.” Having started in 1978, this Vietnamese language daily newspaper has flourished through the years and is still an established source of news for Vietnamese Americans.



Photo Courtesy of Calisphere


Strip malls are also found in Little Saigon composing a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese businesses. Pho, which is a traditional Vietnamese rice-noodle soup, is served as part of the traditional Vietnamese cuisine. Other Vietnamese dishes include the Bun rieu which is a rice vermicelli and Bun Mam which is Vietnamese gumbo. Aside from restaurants, there are also supermarkets, delis and bakeries. Here, colonization of the past in Vietnam is present since you can find French coffee and sandwiches. In 1877, Vietnam became a French colony along with French Indochina’s founding.






Pho (top) and Bun Rieu (bottom) Vietnamese foods

Photo Courtesy of The Spruce Eats and Foodaciously

Even though the word “little” is in its name, Little Saigon features so many establishments such as recording studios that even surpasses Vietnam’s recording industry due to its reach. It’s fantastic that Vietnamese music is not only enjoyed by Vietnamese Americans in the United States, but in other parts of the world such as Germany, Australia and France. Over time, the Vietnamese music industry also dealt with changes due to copyright infringement. Despite this, a big Vietnamese music company named Thuy Nga is located in Little Saigon.

With all of the establishments, events and food that go back to the roots of Vietnam, Little Saigon in Orange County may not be little after all because it has provided many Vietnamese Americans numerous needs and it kept alive their culture despite being in a country far away from Vietnam.

References:

Little Saigon and Vietnamese American Communities by Vo Dang
Little Saigon, Orange County facts for Kids from Kiddle
Little Saigon from Visit Anaheim


Written by Jan Marbella

Jan Marbella is a Digital Marketing Intern of PS Media Enterprise and a 4th year Bachelor of Arts in Communication student of De La Salle University DasmariƱas.

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