Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon comes to Ithaca

Downtown Ithaca, New York, is welcoming the exhibit Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon to the Rothschild’s Building from September 18 to December 4, 2010. The display is the first Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit to visit downtown Ithaca and comes through a collaboration between Cornell University and the Downtown Ithaca Alliance.The Vietnamese American experience is one of joy, sorrow, and hope. Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon is the first Vietnamese American historical exhibit from the Smithsonian to explore the Vietnamese American experience in America. Images covering 30 years of Vietnamese immigration are displayed in the exhibit.Beyond the exhibit, events include a festival, a film series, lectures, storytelling, workshops, culinary exploration, and performances. The events aim to recognize the achievements and acknowledge the struggles of immigrants from Vietnam in the United States, and in our own community. The exhibit will be open from 11am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday and is free and open to the public. The official exhibit opening reception will take place on Saturday, September 25, from 6-9:30 p.m. and will also include a Downtown Ithaca Mid-Autumn Festival on the Ithaca Commons, at the Bernie Milton Pavilion, and at the Rothschild’s Building at 215 East State St. The Mid-Autumn Festival includes traditional foods including moon cakes, activities, games, arts and crafts, performances and guest speakers.Exit Saigon tells an epic story from the perspectives of people who were forced to flee their homes and leave their possessions behind. But this is not an exhibition about tragedy. Instead, it reveals the strength and stamina of Vietnamese Americans who have found new homes in a new land. This is a story about people who have adapted to life in the United States while maintaining their traditional folkways. A celebration of cultural diversity, Exit Saigon explores history and religion as well as the civic and political issues that have influenced Vietnamese communities across the country.The exhibit consists of 93 panels that focus on several core topics such as the refugee exodus from Vietnam and entry into the United States, including the “boat people”, and temporary refugee camps. The adaptation of Vietnamese to American life is highlighted with the formation of ethnic communities and identities. Other highlights include Vietnamese contributions to America such as the hybrid creations that combine Vietnamese and American cultural elements, from fashion to food to film. Vietnamese Americans have proven themselves as a vibrant and diverse ethnic group – nearly 1.5 million in number – and an integral part of the American fabric.Exit Saigon debuted in January 2007 at the S. Dillon Ripley Center Concourse on the National Mall. The exhibit is developed by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program (APAP), with Vietnamese American scholar Vu Pham as the curator, and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). The national tour is made possible by Farmers Insurance.SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C. for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at www.sites.si.edu.For more information visit ithacalittlesaigon.com or contact Peter Van Do, Program Director, Community Center Programs at Cornell University at 607-255-1898 or email [email protected].

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