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Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Josée Cung
Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Josée Cung was born August 24, 1940, in Saigon, South Vietnam. Her father was a businessman from North Vietnam. She grew up in Saigon and in 1958 enrolled at the University of Saigon. After one year she transferred to the University of Sydney in Australia, where she received a bachelor's degree in political science in 1963. In 1964 she married Tien Cung, a popular singer and composer as well as an agricultural economist trained in England. Their son Raphael was born in 1967. Before the fall of the South Vietnamese government, Josée Cung was employed first by the Ministry of Social Affairs and later the Commission for Tourism. She also served as local coordinator for a research project of the Rand Corporation under contract by the United States Department of Defense. With the collapse of the government in April of 1975, the family fled Saigon on one of many barges used to take evacuees out to sea. The family was picked up by ships of the United States Seventh Fleet and taken to Subic Bay in the Philippines, and later to Guam. They spent about four weeks in a refugee camp at Fort Chafee, Arkansas, before they were released to a sponsor in Washington, D.C. Shortly after that, Tien Cung was offered employment by a foreign aid agency of the U.S. Department of State, and the family spent a year in Canberra, Australia. When the job was finished, the Cungs returned to the United States and settled temporarily in Dallas, Texas, where Tien's parents and sister, also refugees from Vietnam, had relocated. In 1977 the family moved to Minnesota, where Tien was offered a job with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. After arrival Josée obtained employment in the city of St. Paul's Division of Manpower Services from 1977 to 1978 and again from 1980 to 1981. From 1978 to 1980 she also worked for the United Way. Cung was an early organizer and officer of the Vietnamese Cultural Association of Minnesota, which as early as 1977 sponsored a week-long conference, "To Save and Maintain Our Culture," at the International Institute of Minnesota. Highlights of the conference included production of a play by the Vietnamese playwright and Minnesota resident Vu Khac Khoan (whose narration is also part of this oral history project) and performances by Tien Cung and other Vietnamese artists. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Cung discusses the development of Vietnamese religious and cultural organizations in Minnesota, special events and traditional celebrations, and community leadership. She also discusses class divisions within the Vietnamese community, the quality of refugee services in Minnesota, and the United States involvement in the Indochina War. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: Cung provides valuable insights regarding the dynamics of the Vietnamese community, the concern of the intellectuals and artists to preserve their cultural heritage for their children, and the problems of employment and housing that affect all the refugees. She is a highly articulate member of the community.
Quantity 4.5 hours sound cassette
118 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 03:47:36 running time
Creation Narrator: Cung, Ms. Josée
Interviewer: Mason, Sarah R.
Made in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Asians
Vietnamese
Made in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 11/14/1980 - 02/13/1981
Narrator was interviewed 11/14/1980, 1/14/1981, & 2/13/1981
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
ID Number OH 51
Accession Number AV1981.361.15
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project'