thumbnail of The Alabama Experience; Finding Refuge in Alabama
Hide -
This transcript was received from a third party and/or generated by a computer. Its accuracy has not been verified. If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+.
fb manet landman campbell planning mobile routes to be said and i say here's the other thing i like that oh
no in nineteen seventy five after decades of bloody combat south vietnam cambodia and laos felt a communist forces over the next fifteen years an estimated one point six million people fled those countries for refugee camps and a new beginning a new beginning that brought many of them to america people who are refugees have to have a bonafide fear of persecution the cambodians lay oceans and vietnamese veteran alabama and then in the country generally our suffered persecution because they were on the wrong side in the war in southeast asia the vietnam war that ended in nineteen seventy five while most refugees in america have resettled in large urban areas over four thousand now live in alabama have come here to join relatives and find a job they are now part of alabama's cultural landscape cambodians including to live in an isolated village
like environment as close to their homeland as possible lay oceans and opal like there are integrating into the local community and working in a major industry alongside alabama eons the enemies have been and by you the battery for over a decade because of the fishing industry with their presence continues to draw mixed reactions from the locals i've heard people say that they don't have to pay tax or that they get an allowance in x amount of hours a month for ever idea that children would go to college free when they get new cars and new boats for new houses or whatever the list its analysts and its faults in every detail refugees whenever they have that and that would be one message i would love to have the american audience here this time and that refugees i have to say that i've met a lot of people who've lived through real horror stories of loss of family persecution of hunger and abuse anger when i see there is a resilient
human strength in those families they are still prepared to make a new life and are continuing to grow to work in the early part of our cars that's always anyway singing tonight guest tonight hatred tonight hunger demented disease tonight sadness tonight for literacy and for them to come together and you know as an anchor rudi intervention alabama i
mean charles and can i survive the regime of the khmer rouge come to america in nineteen eighty one along with over two hundred refugees resettled that year by catholic social services in moby so they were confused if they were frightened they were sick they were hungry they were in in terrible condition the worst of it was commonly last four of his oldest children all presumed dead hands of the khmer rouge no wonder you know the same you know at least thought we all sometimes the horror comedy some time under the top three you know a movie that has an appeal by headquarters and killed by a penalty fried cuban almeida see nicki oh my conley was an aide to a general of the cambodian army he escaped the killing fields by acting like a peasant farmer eating small and sex and mice to prevent starvation today is director of the cambodian association of more real
he's kind of a village leader doing so he's able to give birth in the cambodian world and the american role as a person i think is kind of incredible family's proud of this community which could easily be called little cambodia it was formed in nineteen eighty five the fact it's a hundred acres in a rural setting allows people to maintain some of the traditions and customs of the factors in southeast asia and their arms to their temple where it's your temple five state area chris dyer anthropologist from the university of south alabama is studying the community so they're very comfortable setting allows him to replicate the lifestyle that they're used to and in a sense it softens the blow when they come to this country there a few areas in fact there are no areas that i like spending i eat it
they can only to jim how to name some comedian to revise some comedians they reach a certain level and they're not able to communicate to the parents they say and maybe talk breakdowns in communication breakdowns trying that's because the bridge it is a problem most refugees and immigrants can identify with that while the children play on the temple grounds speaking basic cambodian some parents are trying any halfway learning the fundamentals of english equally important to the cambodian association is passing on a cultural traditions made based on buddhism but religion is the center's focus on every possible time in the community comes together at the energy of a community of eighty two members of the people to keep feeling cambodia
the city you know the story of a new normal or die you don't have to watch the mambo you know the city one hundred days after two of their people drowned in the gulf of mexico the cambodian community united nearby by you about three chance and pray for the spirit of the deceased money is collected to help support the family food and drink is abundant in some reach him the sister of one of the victims we see a teenager attuned to american life who knows these traditions are important but doesn't quite grasp why trying to instill their culture and language and youngsters such as somalia is proving to be quite a
challenge i know the cambodians know how to work or when your background includes laboring in the rice fields fourteen hours a day it's easy to trap it in an air conditioned factory to cambodian families run into land seafood started a few years ago to provide local employment terrace a recent high school graduate supervises his aunt uncle mother and many others from down the road safer community that we have this now because one thing is that the cambodian kid the little one the next generation that keep them were aware of what their customers like this is almost like back in the country homes in the irving to community are on three acre lots once just scrub
land incredibly in just a few years many of the twenty six families here have already bought their homes they say that pool as much family money as possible to buy instead of bar and they live off the land sizable gardens are part of all the lots that you know the most feared it will become a typical that upon the pumpkin million but that it has already leaked new families join the community every year and there's plenty of room to grow plans include training manama local construction industry and forming a cambodian daycare center meanwhile the cambodian community struggles with the challenge of preserving their culture without being overwhelmed by their past jarrett was eight years old when his family found refuge in alabama but not the four sixth of his sisters were murdered by the khmer rouge i'll always keep in mind that one of the weapons a report on the continent the
only members of the members of that holds us they've gone through the holocaust many of them they have started second largest i think it's the strength of their character and the fact that they can and that the situation's a new economic conditions so we're here looking for the future here and really sunny all the publicity because it is they can do things he has to leave the country they come to the table bearing gifts of food and money that will be used by visiting monks bamboo baskets of sticky rice bowls of fruit but this lawsuit as it's called is not at a buddhist temple in their native country loves it's at the f o p lives in opel like alabama there's one reason they're here and there's one reason they are more integrated into this community then the
cambodians are in communities on alabama's gulf coast among the three hundred fifty lay oceans and opal like the job is diversified products dp manufacturers of home fitness equipment well we've got between fifteen hundred and six two hundred employees here is that we probably got ten percent asian population here diversify products took a chance and hire the first laotian refugees who came to oprah like under the sponsorship of the catholic church in the late seventies they put them to work alongside native alabama eons and they just perform admirable you're always you're on time here there here early they were worth more than eight hours a day they like your tie and they want to work for the company was pleased with the lay oceans and the lay oceans were pleased with the work knowing that jobs were available for refugees were able to sponsor friends and
family members who are in camps in thailand were unable to find work in other american cities two or three people that were data was subject to make such a good reputation in a prison was say it does as my family my relatives my friend and they haven't they're very integral part of our cooperation the work can be difficult there's welding drilling punching lifting but moore may be required of all the workers including the lay oceans the management wants employees who can participate and brainstorming team building and problem solving those things to good communication skills but some of the laotian workers speed relatively little english it's not just lay oceans who have recently immigrated here to this country don't have a viable and winning with communication skills it's also americans that they don't have ten hansen a has been ineffective and loyal dp employee despite her
limited english skills she's been at the plant for more than ten years now once a week at home she takes advantage of an english tutoring services offered by the alabama council and human relations the director of the service says there are several reasons many lay oceans want to learn english the well i think the first thing is to get ahead economically to simply survive but i think the majority of them wish to fit into american society and without giving up their own values i think they'll get a game because they share a lot of american values and then protests as fully as they can perhaps few american civil polite understand the lay oceans as well as jerry rohde and he knows these people are not just learning a new language and they are rebuilding their lives many of them were persecuted by the communists in laos and lost everything before they fled to america they want to everything from laying imprisonment
some of them are suffering a terrible waste some on for a long period time in prison one deeply worker tells such a story when john rice from the moon as he's called was an officer in the laotian military and fought on the side the united states supported the paid dearly for that when the communists took over many people with it especially in the premium increases in government says sentiment only use and when to caucus in that camp but it's a jew it is madness more so most of us as being chained
i was chained for five years as ceo of people get to see people dying hungary it's a beaten oh i didn't want to get that good at that they get one thing most people know and people who are the need for whom finally escape the camp by forging documents and bribing officials when he arrived in the us he had nothing but his family and the clothes on his back thank you ironically the children of the
poorest laotian family says will likely get the best chance to learn english children in low income families qualify for head start and education program for preschoolers and then they can tell me where all the laotian children would benefit from head start which usually once one of the parents gets a job the children are unable to attend the family makes too much money i wish we had some kind of policy change that the minority children before no children can come and according to this speech and language is something that we can you know which he had policy because this is very important as they are excellent for them to be human because they work and live with other elements and not just other lay oceans these refugees are becoming part of the community what they want does this mean that will lose their
laotian heritage this crossing mean anything for their sons and daughters you have to be honest alan had to know my caution know my customer nyland and those gay american nice to win i went and asked them yes my major part of concern here then began to americanize i suppose not no one is quite satisfied with that last well since i'm a remarkable job of all of the common both americans still retain some of the speeches at auction during the past decade the small coastal town of bayou the battery has experienced probably the most unusual cultural change in the two hundred years since the french maintained an artillery battery near here nine hundred fifty
vietnamese refugees have relocated in the town and surrounding area most of the amazing buy you love every one of these men in vietnam and bite you about todays ota segel so that is air and nadal beat the convoy them do that edges of their life and that it and because of that they've taken five a joke and that day that empathy is a fishing shrimping and that they're that whether they hear is a massive you know that dude that they'll get them john wooden came to buy your the battery in nineteen eighty four to work on his brother in law a shrimp boat chung now owns his own boat and home well below nine memo rather that a good bill and then illegal for me to walk and josie and more teacher i know you know you'd had both an antidote to work in an old pal with him and
then they get to hang around with the gang in the known that you know that what i don't like going to be healthy long time and was a captain in the south vietnamese militia unit he and his family escaped vietnam in nineteen eighty five and came to buy a battery for the same reason other vietnamese have a job utility identity in a man no way you know what i know i'm not a honeymoon on your yacht at sea level internet were quick to seize it as most of the older vietnamese whole to the traditions of lying to the homeland the younger generation has become
americanized they aren't satisfied with fishing for a living that somewhere in the sale of the science mathematics ties to hear what jim said it seemed to fit in a flat in the bath in the stats and the real well and the extracurricular activities that is the job of the living alone of being floated english only educational stuff that we can get in the way or you know it's just always education is in vietnam you need money in order to get education which states you don't have enough money can't afford to education they are teaching their elders how to live in the united states and i feel like as the younger ones get out
of them is going to be they're going to go ahead and mashed into high society much better than they are to this day even though the older generation is finding jobs and enjoying a desirable climate and by the battery some continue to face difficulties with language and adaptation education though the new life with a new way of life for that reason the many begin a major pride do you were there i think as in the water so that they can have one another the refugee resettlement program conducts classes three nights a week to help refugees improve their english and familiarize them with the american culture but they still feel a strong need for solidarity they are a community within our community that had their own stores they aren't very family oriented that's that's the haitian heritage they have a
lot of moaning i believe that one of the reasons that they had so much money is the bank did they have several families living together and they pool their resources together they were together they live together in this essay together and they pooled their money together so therefore they didn't have readily available that's ross store runs a marine products business were fishing boats a refueled their catches unloaded and isis supply to keep the new catchphrase most colombians their families are probably seventy percent at me mom i'll probably say fifty to seventy a week that remains of found at the very very well play the bailes a lot of you know they have to work with fuel only reliable we go out across three oriental groceries in town the un dong owns one as well as a billiard room next door he opened the store to supply vietnamese fishermen with a real food for their seven to
fourteen day cruz's his business is one example of how the relocation has had an economic impact on the area or is it smart is an excellent liar is they can waiver was available were about them is that we get light and what is expected now she's dating wire did a vast expanse of the water upright state very out there way immediately time and that was the end of it to try to be firing give both sides with the impact of the asians they many a more commercial fisherman and they have put a lot of strain on our natural resources as far as the r but others are concerned it has been detrimental to a local sentiment and our fishermen because the takeaway from their captors we have the same some
activities that we really don't appreciate about aging such as poland mr new legal waters in the illegal activities all right very well i would we have found them we thought neither more nor less law abiding the other worshipers we are alone together to social services assistance in violent translating new releases and rules and regulations but the communications broke down at sea the last week in august nineteen ninety two six vietnamese shrimpers didn't receive the warning about hurricane andrew their bodies were recovered during the taping of this segment their boat the lucky lee their hometown by you the battery it's been if you have a question or comment about this or if you'd like to purchase a copy of it please write the taliban experience was at
seven thousand tuscaloosa alabama three five four eight seven please include the word refugees on your request it
The Alabama Experience
Finding Refuge in Alabama
Producing Organization
University of Alabama Center for Public Television
Contributing Organization
University of Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio (CPT&R) (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip-0cf69f1e0ad).
Episode Description
Piece focuses on refugees from Vietnam, Loas, and Cambodia who now reside in three Alabama towns: Irvington, Opelika, and Bayou La Batre. It looks at their lives in Alabama, their struggle to intergrate or stay seperated, the challenges of keeping up their culture and traditions, their lives before in their home county and now in the United States, and more.
Series Description
A series that focuses on bringing to life the inspiring stores and empowering characters that have helped form Alabama's past and are working to shape its future.
Broadcast Date
Created Date
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Editor: Stiles, Juanita
Producing Organization: University of Alabama Center for Public Television
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Alabama Center for Public Television
Identifier: cpb-aacip-de36fee4be2 (Filename)
Format: BetacamSP
Duration: 0:28:14
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “The Alabama Experience; Finding Refuge in Alabama,” 1992-11-19, University of Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio (CPT&R), American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 20, 2024,
MLA: “The Alabama Experience; Finding Refuge in Alabama.” 1992-11-19. University of Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio (CPT&R), American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 20, 2024. <>.
APA: The Alabama Experience; Finding Refuge in Alabama. Boston, MA: University of Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio (CPT&R), American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from