Crossing the Globe


Japan and Globaligration

Into the Hill Tribes of Vietnam

Ali and Me

Return To Sender

Yo Estoy Aqui

There and Back

Open Letter

Into the Hill Tribes of Vietnam

Julian Bailey

Prior to arriving in Vietnam last week, several of our discussions and readings in class gave us a good idea of the history and current trends in migration patterns. We learned that Vietnam has historically been a country that predominately sends migrants to other countries rather than receiving due to its political unrest and subjectivity to war. Due to these trends, we were made aware that Vietnam may be one of the most difficult countries to observe migration patterns. As most of the class found this to be true, I had a completely different experience.

Upon my arrival in Vietnam, I traveled 9 hours with my father into the northern highlands to stay with a White Thai Hill Tribe. The point of this trip was to observe small, village culture in rural Vietnam, however it revealed great insight to migration and ethnic diversity in Vietnam. According to the book of “Vietnamese Ethnography” published by the Museum of Ethnography in Hanoi Vietnam, there are 53 foreign tribes that reside in Vietnam. Our guide revealed physical observation techniques to identify tribe diversity within the Hill Tribes. For instance, members of the Black Thai Tribe eat berries that turn their teeth red, however the White Thai Tribe doesn’t. Also the women of the Black Thai Tribe where blouses that button all the way to their necks, where as the White Tribe doesn’t. Members of the Hill Tribes tend to have settled in the highlands centuries ago and diversify themselves in regards to agriculture, clothing, funerary practice, and language.

According to the World Refugee Report of 2005, Vietnam is currently ranked as the 10th greatest sender of refugees worldwide. Although the country is no longer involved in war, there are still citizens of that country who desire to live outside of Communist Regime. 305 500 refugees are in search of asylum in countries they feel will provide them more freedom.
Although the statistics shown in the World Refugee Report communicate that Vietnam is predominantly migrant sending, I had a special opportunity to experience first hand a culture that had migrated to the Vietnamese highlands centuries ago. As outlined in our class discussions, many of the students had difficulty observing migration, however I feel fortunate to have been exposed to such localized diversity.


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