The Making of Tan Dan, New Citizens

Through multimedia journalism and storytelling, The Making of Tan Dan, New Citizens - A 1975-era refugee camp newspaper's mission is to unearth the untold stories of 250,000 Southeast Asian refugees, who came through five refugee camps and were resettled in the U.S. after the fall of South Vietnam.

Fifty-thousand refugees were housed and processed at Ft. Chaffee in Arkansas in the summer of 1975 through December. In the six months the camp operated, U.S. and Vietnamese staff produced a daily Vietnamese-language newspaper called Tan Dan, “New Citizens.” Overseen by the U.S. military, the publication provided camp news and useful information about adjusting to American life. Beyond a tool to promote acculturation, Tan Dan provides a window into the lives and reflections of the refugees during a pivotal moment in history.

The project aims to promote cultural engagement through intergenerational awareness and dialogue about the 1975-era refugee camps. The project seeks to build awareness of historical archives as important community history and knowledge repository. It aims to promote community and civic participation by spurring members of the public to donate personal or family items of historical significance to archives; for example, the Southeast Asian Archive at UC Irvine Libraries.

The Making of Tan Dan was awarded the CalHumanities' California Documentary Project Production grant in 2022.