Growth through Resiliency and Resettlement

A collage that is inspired from the vibrancy and beauty of the Vietnamese in City Heights, San Diego.



The Vietnamese community in San Diego reflects a very important history of US militarism, but also the importance of changing the typical refugee narrative that portrays them as helpless. During the Vietnam War and the Fall of Saigon, we learned that the US took in many refugees and placed them with families, or on military bases like Camp Pendleton. We were exposed to immigration porn photography that failed to also reflect the agency and resilience many communities carry despite their situations. For example, Thuy Vo Dang explains how her research led her to speak to elderly Vietnamese who used their experiences as women as well as refugees, in order to empower themselves and create the means for survival emotionally and physically. Dang’s work pushed me to understand how the US refugee narrative does not allow us to see the beauty that resettlement can create, which is widely seen throughout City Heights in San Diego.


The Vietnamese community is very large, and abundantly growing in northeast San Diego. There are countless restaurants, markets, murals, etc; all existing parts that create as well as reflect the vibrancy of the now settled refugees. I was inspired to choose places that reflect the authenticity of City Heights, where the Vietnamese community is mostly at large because my own home, East Los Angeles also has this aspect; migrants creating spaces that reflect their homes and culture. Places like liquor stores that are lined with murals, swap meets, small restaurants all encompass the beauty of cities. I hope that my collage gives a sense of growth, as well as authenticity through the pictures I chose to include. Plants and flowers have always represented the process of growth to me, so it was important to choose to include nature as part of my collage.


I used goodnotes in order to digitally create my collage, through freehanding the cropping picture process. I was able to find pictures through Instagram as well as internet searches through google maps that allowed me to see businesses digitally walking the streets.


The mural in the college is done by Thao Huynh French, @thaofrenchart on instagram where I found the mural. The bottom right showcases the City Heights Community Garden located at 3800 43rd St, San Diego, CA 92105. The top right corner is a market located on 4665 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115, in Little Saigon.

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