ATG President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee was honored to be invited to speak at the recent SMU Meadows School of the Arts Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 12th and welcome new graduates on behalf of the Meadows Alumni.
Congratulations to all SMU Meadows Graduates and Arts Graduates nationwide! Read or watch Tammy’s welcome remarks below:
Congratulations, Graduates!….yes, I said GRADUATES! Let’s let that sink in for a moment. Feels good, right?
This is a special day, for you, for your friends, for your family. It represents the culmination of three, four, perhaps even five or more years of hard work, dedication, sacrifice, long days and nights of blood, sweat and tears.
Some of you may be the first in your family to follow this path. Some of you may be joining a tradition. Whichever the case, your unique journey lies ahead, and it is YOURS to make and YOURS to take.
This is a day of endings and beginnings. As I think back on what this day meant to me over a decade ago as an aspiring filmmaker, I’m sure many of you are feeling an assortment of emotions — happiness, excitement, relief, nervousness and anticipation. There are few moments in life that are quite like this, so cherish it.
One of the most important investments you have made in your education here at SMU is the network of people you have met. The relationships you have made will help support and propel you to new heights. From this day forward, you join the Meadows Alumni Community, an elite group of artists. These are some of the most influential communicators, trendsetters, thought provokers, movers and shakers, leaders. We are thrilled to have you a part of our family.
I cannot tell you how important this community has become to me. They are your future colleagues, bosses, and team members. Beyond letters of recommendation, from personal experience, I can affirm that they provide you the emotional, intellectual and artistic support that is second only to that of your own family. This is your SMU family that will look out for you, fight for you, share disappointments with you, lift you up and celebrate you.
When you picked up your diploma in the Hope Lobby, you were given a small gift from all Meadows Alumni to you- a holder for business cards. When you find your calling and put it on a card, you will always have those cards with you. You can also collect the cards of others who will want to invest in your journey.
Inside are several very important pieces of information on how to stay connected with the school and Meadows Alumni. One is a card with information on creating a legacy SMU email so we can always get in touch with you! Each day, you are creating your legacy. We look forward to hearing from you.
Be proud of being a Meadows alum. Stay in touch with us. Let us know about the accomplishments you’ve achieved. We want to share these milestones with you, celebrate you. Let us know when you need help. Our job doesn’t end here. It is to nurture you and make our community even stronger. We are a network available to you and we look forward to being in touch. One day, when you make it big, you will have “people.” Well, from the beginning, for now, and for always, WE are your people.
You have a special message to share, so make sure the world hears you, sees you, feels your spirit. I challenge you. Each and every day, move closer towards your goals and dreams. You have studied, you have trained. Practice time is over. You are now officially a SMU Meadows Alum.
Congratulations, again, GRADUATES! Now, as Dean Bowen commanded you, go start a movement!
Spotlight on Tammy Nguyen Lee (B.A. Film & Media Arts, ’00)
Wanting to positively impact the world, Nguyen Lee directs a nonprofit that promotes education, cultural awareness and Asian American artists.
by Mary Guthrie
Tammy Nguyen Lee’s life reads like a movie script: When she was just three months old, her mother took her out of war-torn Vietnam to a Hong Kong refugee camp, where they lived for over a year, then moved to the United States. She grew up in Garland, Texas, where she graduated near the top of her class and then accepted a scholarship to SMU. She won the title of Miss Asian American Texas at age 21. Majoring in Cinema (now Film & Media Arts) at SMU, she was a campus leader in the East Asian Student Association and the SMU Asian Council. After graduating in 2000, she earned her M.F.A. from UCLA, where she began work on an award-winning documentary, Operation Babylift. Motivated by the work she could do to positively impact the world, Nguyen Lee created the nonprofit organization Against The Grain, which promotes education, cultural awareness and Asian American artists. She is a television show consultant/producer and the energy behind an annual haute couture fashion show that raises money for orphanages in Asia. She met her husband, George Lee, a West Point graduate, while playing the role of his wife on a photo shoot. In 2010, SMU presented Nguyen Lee with the Emerging Leader Award, given to young alumni who show distinguished service and extraordinary achievement in a particular discipline, organization or cause. Shortly after receiving the award, she and George had their first child, a baby girl they named Gabriella.
MPRINT magazine visited with Tammy recently to catch up on the latest adventures in her life.
Tell us what you’ve been doing since received SMU’s 2010 Emerging Leader Award.
My life has been completely turned upside-down, from being someone who is incredibly organized and had life planned down to the second, to being a first-time parent learning to go with the flow.
One of the biggest lessons about becoming a parent was being able to adapt at a moments notice, because it’s never about you anymore, it’s about someone else. And that’s a good lesson for anyone. In life you should have a vision and a game plan, but be open to reading the winds of change and be able to adapt very quickly. The people who survive the best are the people who can learn to bend when the wind is strong. And the wind was really strong for me last year! [laughs]
Your mother was a big influence in your life. How has she mentored you?
She came to the U.S. [from Saigon, in 1978] in her early twenties, having to completely start over after the war. The family had everything taken away from us because of the Communist regime, and so the only way to have a better life was to leave. We came as boat people.
Coming here to the U.S., she had me [age three months], and then 7½ years later she had my sister. With two children, she worked two to three jobs, regained a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree in record time, with honors. In Vietnam she was always at the top of her class, always doing extracurriculars.
She has a huge spirit of wanting more for her family. You see that a lot in first-generation refugees. She taught me that if you want something you have to work really hard for it, you have to be the best at it, you have to be prepared; you have to be willing to hear “no” and be willing to overcome it somehow. She’s always been an incredibly hard worker and overachiever and perfectionist, so I’ve learned a lot of good things from her and acquired a lot of quirks! [laughs]
After producing Operation Babylift, you were moved to create a nonprofit organization called Against The Grain Productions (ATG). What do you see in the future for ATG?
We’ll continue to create films and events to promote awareness and unity of the Asian American culture and identity.
We’re also expanding how much money we can give for scholarships. Last year we gave two $1,000 scholarships. One went to an SMU student, Meadows junior Monika Thao-Ngan Hoang (B.A. Creative Advertising, ‘13); she’s a wonderful girl. The grant helped her buy printing supplies and will help send her to the annual ONE Show ad conference in New York.
Tell us about ATG’s annual Fashion for a Passion event.
Fashion for a Passion is unconventional. The event raises funds for Asian orphanages, and we do it with designers, musicians, visual artists, singers, anyone who is involved in the arts. The spotlight is on the designers; many are from Dallas and Texas, but some are from New York and Los Angeles. In the past we had Ninh Nguyễn, now in New York, of NINH Collection, and Khanh Nguyễn of Nhã Khanh; Khanh just exploded after her first Fashion for a Passion show. Some of our designers are SMU grads, like Nikki Duong Koenig, owner of Cykochik Custom Handbags. Nikki started her collection when she was a student at SMU.
Operation Babylift was an impactful film that touched a lot of people. Looking ahead, are there other film projects you’d like to work on?
I’d love to get back into the hard issues, the issues people don’t want to talk about, like domestic violence. And children’s advocacy. As a mother you become more and more passionate about children and families and women’s issues. But it’s hard to find the time to pour into a film when raising a baby. There’s a lot I want to do. I want to find those people who have a voice but haven’t been heard.
There’s motherhood, family, Against The Grain…you also work as an independent television consultant?
Yes. Before my life as a mom, I was a full-time TV show development producer. I consulted on cable reality shows such as Girl Meets Gown (series for WE TV) and Ma’s Roadhouse (truTV). I continue to consult production companies who want to develop TV shows. I have the best of both worlds: I can stay home, set my hours, still be active doing what I’m good at, help pay the bills, and I still get to be around Gabby and ATG.
When you were a student at SMU, was there anyone who particularly inspired you or helped you on your career path?
There were always film professors who helped me grow as an artist. Professors like Rick Worland, Tom Bywaters and Kevin Heffernan always let me follow my muse and were supportive.
Raj Sethuraju was the Asian American student adviser. He was so pivotal. As Asian American students, leadership is not something that is instilled in us; we are taught to follow, not lead. He really inspired us to stand up and be heard and to come together as a group and represent.
What advice do you have for today’s SMU student?
I know that for me, I started out not being a typical SMU student. I didn’t rush Greek. I felt independent of the cultural fabric. I felt kind of like an outsider, watching to see where I fit in. I think the best way as a student, whether you feel like SMU is in your blood or you’re one of those students on the outside, is to dig in. That’s when I was able to find what I was good at, where I could give back.
While I was at SMU I was involved on campus. I was president of the East Asian Student Association and participated on Asian Council; I was Chair of the Program Council/Films Committee. That’s what plugged me into the mainstream SMU community.
A quotation I always live by is by Richard Bach, in his book Illusions. I read it when I was a senior in high school: “You’re never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however.”
SMU MPrint is a magazine for alumni and friends of SMU Meadows School of the Arts. Read the original online article here.
I was honored to be asked to be the keynote speaker at the SMU Crain All-University Leadership Conference, which took place on Saturday, February 4th just a few hours north of Dallas at the Tanglewood Resort in Pottsboro, Texas. This was a wonderful opportunity to get a chance to speak to young leaders from all over the campus who had come together for a weekend of inspiration. Although I was given several months notice to prepare for this event, actually coming up with a speech that would address this incredibly broad topic in a way that would be relevant and impactful to this young audience of student leaders was a bit of a challenge. It wasn’t until I watched an episode of American Idol that inspiration came (just goes to show you, you never know how or when inspiration will hit). I wanted to share this message of leadership with all of you:
This year’s leadership conference theme is “Leadership: Is it in you?” Well, for me, leadership has been the fabric of who I am.
Let me give you some background on some pivotal events that shaped my life – I came to this country as a boat person, less than 18 months old, a refugee from the bitter aftermath of the Vietnam War. My mother, in her early 20s, was from a well-to do educated, upper middle class family. Bravely, she had decided to escape her home country with a 3 month-old child for the opportunity for a better life. Under the communist regime, she would not be given the opportunity for a higher education and was forced to work in labor camps. Risking the unknown on the South China seas with an infant, she bravely set out to find a better path for us. We spent over a year in a refugee camp before being sponsored over to the U.S. by a church in Maryland.
Although I was less than two years-old when we arrived, the significance of getting the chance to start over with very little was never lost on me and has always defined our family’s lives and perspective. If you understand this, you appreciate all that this country can offer, as well as the enormity of the responsibility we have to our community and family overseas in Vietnam and here. As the first-born child of an immigrant family, we had to sacrifice so much, so working hard to achieve was a given. And it was in that way that leadership in me began.
From a young age, my mom taught me that ‘right and responsibility go hand in hand.’ So, even as a child growing up, I did what was needed to be done – in my family, in school, in the community…to help, to affect change, to make a difference. It was our responsibility, because we were given this right to freedom.
As a young adult, my values and my sense of identity evolved. Up until that point, I always wanted to fit into the mainstream…and as an Asian American, like many of us that are bi-cultural, that really is a challenge. How do you fit in when you look so different? There was the racism and the identity issues. I learned to express myself and find my voice through writing and through Theatre. I became curious about how I was different and embraced my uniqueness. Instead of becoming something my parents expected and wanted of me (like to be a lawyer, as they still do this day), I chose a different path for myself. That need to express myself became my career path – to become a filmmaker, to tell stories that would educate and inspire others. Being a leader is often about taking the road less traveled, being a pioneer, and as a Vietnamese female, I began the path down the road so few had traveled before, lighting the way for others to follow.
By the time I entered SMU, I already had a dream of how I could make my mark, how I wanted to change the world – through film and philanthropy. Coming to SMU and being involved in student activities gave me an even deeper understanding of people and how to be a better leader. On campus, I was the President of the East Asian Student Association and Chair of Program Council Films. I served on the Board of Asian Council and was an active member of many other organizations like VSA, Student Filmmakers Association, even wrote for the Daily Campus. I got a chance to flex my vision, learn about what I stood for, tested my beliefs. I learned how to plan and program events, how to deal with people and how not to, how to listen. I had a great time and made wonderful memories. I made lasting relationships with those I still work with today. Having these experiences and skills were critical to my work today as a producer and in my charity work. The more I was involved, the more I found out just what my unique skills were, what my voice was, and how I could continue to help others. My experience as a leader on campus became a springboard for what I would do later in life.
After graduation, I became actively involved with the Vietnamese Community of Greater Dallas. It was there, while directing a play, that I heard about Operation Babylift, a topic that would later come back to redefine my life. I was accepted to study at the prestigious UCLA Producers Program, and it was upon graduation that I was given a grant to start developing my documentary. Nearly five years later, it was done, but it wasn’t without a lot of blood, sweat and tears. I’ll tell you this, I used every skill I learned as a student leader. Out of Operation Babylift was born another dream – the creation of our non-profit, Against The Grain Productions.
With our non-profit, I have found a way to combine all the things I love and dreamed about – creating media that will enlighten, engage, inspire and educate others. In addition, we raise money to help needy orphanages in Vietnam – those who have no one looking out for them, so that they can have a future, like I was given. On top of that, we have committed three scholarships this year –we are giving two $1,000 Artistic Scholarships for exemplary Asian American students pursuing a degree in the arts, to help those who dreamed like me. One of the last year’s winners is a SMU student! The other is the Sunna Lee Leadership Scholarship, a $5,000 scholarship for an Asian American student who has exhibited outstanding leadership ability. I’m so proud of this organization, because not only does it allow me to give back, it is a place where we are growing more leaders, many of whom I am honored to say, I have served with while at SMU.
My husband, who is a West Point graduate, former Army captan and Ranger, says that ‘great leadership comes from hardship.’ I tend to agree. What are some of the qualities of a great leader? Here are a few things I’ve learned:
#1 Persistence of Vision and Innovation – You have to have a vision and follow it fearlessly. Being bold, thinking not just out of the box, but strategically to know where is your goal and how you will get there. What are your priorities? What’s your game plan? Seeing how things have been done and where things need to change for the better. I think this has probably always been my #1 strength, next to…
#2 Passion – Having a fire in your belly that drives you forward in the face of adversity. It will power your drive, dedication, perseverance and commitment.
#3Be a good and compassionate listener – For me, being of strong mind and strong vision, one of the hardest things was learning to be open to the opinions of others when they differ from my own (just ask my husband!) You may just learn something that can make you a better leader. Being a dictator is one way to get results, but it won’t make you a great leader. It’s a surefire way to alienate yourself and get you on the road to zero productivity and a coup!
#4 Have confidence in your vision – But prepare yourself to have a thick skin for any criticism that may come. Have no fear of what people will say, of being involved in controversy, of hearing negativity and the discomfort that comes with it. Leadership isn’t always about popularity.
#5 Resourcefulness – Who is your team? Who do you know that can help you? Who is in your network? Who shares your vision? What partners are going to help you achieve your goals? Not taking no for an answer. If you hear no, what’s the back-up plan? How can you turn it into a ‘yes?’
#6 Have great communication – whether written or verbal, use your voice in a way that others will hear you and be influenced by your message.
#7 Building a strong team – you can’t do it alone. What’s a leader without those who follow? Nurture and strengthen these relationships. Grow their skills. Learn how to let others lead and shine, too.
#8 Being effective and getting results – Your track record is your credibility that allows people to trust you.
#9 Honesty and integrity Again – no one wants a leader they can’t trust.
#10 Doing the dirty work – Being a leader isn’t always a glamorous job. You have to take the initiative to do the job, get it done, get it done right, even when no one else wants to. You can’t just delegate – you have to set the example.
As a producer, as the founder of a charity now, and as a leader, these are values that I hold dear. Thinking about some of these fundamental questions and what the answers are will help you, no matter what field you plan to enter.
Being a leader is not about a title – it’s about a commitment to serve. It’s not just something you stick on your resume, it’s for your life and the lives of others. And remember, you don’t need a title to be a leader.
What you are doing now is getting to learn about yourself and what’s important to your life — whether that’s your values, your career or your sense of identity. You’re learning also about other people’s cultures, to develop your own career interests and to help other people. Because how you can you truly serve your community if you do not understand yourself and them?
As leaders, you are given an extra responsibility. Dare to believe…but be prepared to work your butt off. There will be physical challenges. There will be mental and emotional challenges. Serve honestly, fairly, with innovation and integrity. It’s a hard journey not for the faint of heart, and you have to love it.
I’m a female and a minority in an industry that has had very little fair representation of either. My dream was to be able to make an impact on the world with the stories I had to tell, stories that I felt would better help people understand the human condition. Whether I consciously set out to at the time or not, I became a leader.
Now, I’m a mother…with another child soon on the way. I think about all the things I have done as a community leader, and what are the values and lessons that I will teach my children. I don’t think they are that different than what I’m telling you now. In every way, in every day, I think of how can I pay it forward to my best ability. That is the way I can lead. I tell you this story about my life because this was my path to leadership. Each of you will have a different path.
As leaders, you are coming to figure out who you are, your style, your goals and in the next few years, you will be put to the test. People will ask you, “what are you all about, what do you want to do?” What are you going to tell them?
The question is not “is leadership in you?” It’s “how is leadership in you?” …Don’t be afraid of the obstacles that will come your way. Like many leaders who have gone before you, face them bravely, because in the end, that’s the only way you will achieve your dreams. I hope you continue to work towards your dreams, and I look forward to seeing what you will do!
By Chris Agee |firstname.lastname@example.org
The only permanent Vietnam Memorial Wall outside of Washington, D.C., located at the National Vietnam War Museum on U.S. Highway 180 just east of Mineral Wells, will be updated for the second time Saturday with the names of three Marines and three Army soldiers added.
“We’ve already had the panels changed to reflect the new names,” said Jim Vines, commander of AmVets Post 133 in Mineral Wells.
The names will be unveiled at the ceremony, which is open to the public at no cost and begins at 10:30 a.m.
Vines said museum officials are required to wait one year after names are added to the original wall before the same names can be added to the local wall, meaning the people honored at Saturday’s event have been displayed in the nation’s capital since 2010.
Five more names added to the original wall this year will be etched into the replica wall next year, Messinger said.
The local wall, approximately half the size of the original, was unveiled May 30, 2009, and originally contained 70 panels and 58,260 names.
Vines said in addition to the unveiling of the names, he is excited to welcome guests from Operation Babylift to the celebration.
According to NVWM Treasurer Jim Messinger, Operation Babylift was established near the end of the Vietnam War to rescue scores of children left orphaned after years of battle in the country.
In total, the operation resulted in about 4,000 children being flown to safety, primarily to America but also to Canada and various European countries. Messinger said all of the rescued children were assigned homes and adoptive parents before landing in their new location.
Unfortunately, Messinger said, the second plane leaving South Vietnam crashed, killing 130 of the 300 on board.
In addition to the negative press assigned to the operation following the crash, Messinger said controversy arose at the time concerning whether some children were taken against their parent’s wishes. In the long run, however, the operation has largely been viewed as a great success.
Three speakers from Operation Babylift will be the first to address the crowd Saturday, according to Messinger, and eight other speakers will take part in an afternoon exhibit at the museum’s visitor’s center.
The guest list includes, in addition to now-grown rescued orphans and family members of those lost in the rescue plane crash, many speakers who were instrumental in making the operation successful.
Air Force veterans responsible for flying the rescue missions, Tammy Nguyen Lee, the producer and director of a feature film about the operation, Olen Bautwell, a crash survivor, and his wife, Louise, a Clark Air Force Base Babylift coordinator are all scheduled to speak.
Additionally, Vietnam veteran and artist Doc Bernie Duff will unveil an Operation Babylift painting which he will donate to the museum and Thuy Smith, the international president of the Amerasian Foundation will be on hand to address the crowd, expected to number between 500 and 1,000 people.
Operation Babylift’s presentation will be moderated by Lana Noone, author of the book “Global Mom,” which recounts her family’s experience adopting multiple orphans through the operation.
Another big draw for the event is an appearance by Elvis Presley tribute artist Kraig Parker before he goes on to perform that night at a concert in the Mineral Wells High School auditorium.
Parker will sing “America the Beautiful,” Vines said, adding both Presley and Parker were very supportive of veterans.
Presley himself served in the military, stationed at Fort Hood before his deployment to Germany, and, fittingly, another event scheduled for Saturday is an aerial display featuring helicopters from the same military post.
The event will be catered by Meals on Wheels, Messinger said, and the menu will feature pigs in a blanket.
Appearances by Patriot Guard Riders and a parachute jump by former U.S. Army Golden Knight and double-amputee Dana Bowman, of Weatherford, are also planned for the event.
Two attractions scheduled for Saturday’s ceremony have been cancelled due to conflicting schedules, according to Messinger.
The Liberty Bell will not make an appearance due to a military funeral scheduled for the same day and the bagpiper scheduled to perform during the invocation will be unable to attend.
Tammy Nguyen Lee, a graduate of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, will receive the 2010 Southern Methodist University Emerging Leader Award on Thursday, October 21. SMU President R. Gerald Turner will present the award at the Distinguished Alumni Awards black-tie celebration at the Fairmont Hotel in Downtown Dallas.
Dr. Turner wrote, “The Emerging Leader Award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who has graduated within the last fifteen years and has distinguished himself or herself as an emerging leader in a particular discipline, organization, or cause that has brought distinction to the University.” Arlene Manthey, SMU Associate Director of Development for Student Affairs, said, “Tammy was a student leader who made a real impact on not only her peers but others, like me, who had a chance to work with her as a staff advisor.” Continued Manthey, “She has continued to be a bright and shining star using her talents that were honed as a student leader and has become a change agent through the film and entertainment industry. Tammy…is inspirational, visionary, courageous, focused, accomplished, and always willing to step up to the plate and make a difference.”
“This has been an incredible year, full of many personal and professional landmarks and milestones,” said Lee. “It is very validating to be honored by my mentors and peers in this way. What a wonderful gift, especially during a 10- year reunion. I am very humbled and appreciative of those who have helped me along the way.”
Lee was an active student leader and honors graduate from Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts in 2000, during which time she was leader with Program Council and East Asian Student Association, voted 1st runner-up Homecoming Queen and served as Miss Asian American Texas from 1999-2001. She has experience as an actress/model, with credits spanning across movies, television, commercials, industrials and national campaigns. After graduating from SMU, Lee received a Master of Fine Arts from the elite UCLA Producers Program in 2004. She has been the recipient of numerous scholarships, leadership and service awards, volunteered with various community organizations and served on the Board of Directors of Women in Film.Dallas. She is President and Founder of ATG Against The Grain Productions, a nonprofit organization that promotes Asian American cultural awareness through outreach programs and raises money for aid to orphanages in Asia. She currently is the Director of Development for Original Programming at AMS Pictures, one of the largest production companies in the southwest, where she oversees the development of a heavy slate of projects that she has successfully developed and sold to WE tv, HGTV and truTV (Girl Meets Gown, Ma’s Roadhouse).
Lee will also speak on a symposium panel for “The Art of Entrepreneurship” at 8 a.m. on Friday, October 22, hosted by the SMU Cinema-Television (CTV) division. Later that day, SMU CTV hosts a free encore community screening of Lee’s award-winning feature documentary Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam from 3-5 p.m. in the SMU Owens Arts Center in the Greer Garson Screening Room 3531. Lee’s directorial debut depicts the historic effort that airlifted over 2,500 orphans out of Vietnam during the last days of the Vietnam War and these adoptees’ complex journey to make peace with their controversial past. This year marks the 35th anniversary of Operation Babylift. A Q&A will follow with Lee and two local Babylift adoptees. Finally, Lee will serve as one of the Homecoming Parade dignitaries on Saturday, October 23 and will attend the Homecoming football game as a guest of President Turner.
Proceeds from charity fashion show to benefit international orphanages
DALLAS, TX– Dallas nonprofit ATG Against The Grain Productions presents the 2nd Annual Fashion For A Passion from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, September 25 at LandCo/7 Senses located at 1202 N. Riverfront (formerly Industrial) in Dallas, Texas. The event will showcase collections from emerging Asian American designers Khanh Nguyen for Nhã Khanh, Nikki Duong Koenig for Cykochik, Lyly Thanh Koenig for Lyly Thanh, Prashi Shah for Prashe and Judy Yang. This year’s event will also feature the collection of Chloe Dao, Season 2 winner of Project Runway, with the designer in attendance. In addition to the fashion showcase, there will be musical acts, as well as an exhibition of work by local Asian American artists. The event also features a live auction of pieces from each fashion designer’s collection, with the proceeds to benefit orphanages in Vietnam and ATG’s community outreach initiatives.
In 2009, ATG showcased the designs of budding designers Kim Phuong Pham, Lizzi London, Aiden Vo and Khanh Nguyen, all of who have now gone on to start successful careers in the industry. ATG also raised more than $5,000 to aid needy orphanages in Vietnam.
Returning designer Khanh Nguyen, a graduate from UNT, said, “Participating in Fashion for a Passion in 2009 was definitely a turning point in my career. The event was also where and when I learned the meaning of receiving and giving back.” After Fashion for a Passion, she became a Woman That Soar Honoree, recipient of the Brilliant You Award and her work was featured in La Mode and D Magazine. Added Nguyen, “Against The Grain Productions not only allowed me to connect with my native country, but it also helped me to realize the importance of charity work. I loved the experience, the effort and the energy that everyone put in to make the show happen. I am very honored and thrilled to be back to showcase my new collection this year!”
ATG President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee, a graduate of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, said, “I’m so proud to hear and see lives changed like this as a result of our organization’s efforts. We founded Against The Grain with the mission to provide that essential support to Asian American artists and promote and share our community’s young talents, and we hope that our hard work continues to result in success stories like Khanh Nguyen’s. Compounded with the nationwide praise for our first documentary Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, it has been a tremendous year.”
FFAP event tickets range from $40-$50, and sales for the event start in mid August online at www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com. VIP/Sponsorships are still available. ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian-American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam has received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.
Dallas, TX – To commemorate the anniversary of the Fall of Saigon and Operation Babylift, Dallas based non-profit ATG Against the Grain Productions is honored to screen Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam at the University of California – Irvine. The award-winning documentary screening takes place on Friday, May 14th from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm at UC Irvine Schneiderman Lecture Hall, Room 100A.
Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam tells the significant, yet untold story of the $2 million U.S. initiative that airlifted over 2,500 Vietnamese orphans out of a war-torn country from the impending threat of the Communist regime. These adoptees grew up facing unique challenges in America, including prejudice overshadowed by a controversial war and cultural identity crisis. Featuring compelling and insightful interviews of the volunteers, parents and organizations directly involved, the documentary takes a contemporary look at Operation Babylift and its relevance to international adoption today.
Lee Ngo, UC Irvine PhD student in the department of anthropology and organizer of the event, reflected upon the theme of cultural identity found in Tammy Nguyen Lee’s feature documentary. “With respect to the heated debates over interpreting the aftermath of the Vietnam War, it’s hard to choose a subject of analysis that manages to supersede many of the cultural politics of representation and identity. Tammy does exactly this through her diligent and powerful documentary,” said Ngo. “I think anyone that’s interested in formations of ethnic identity, an alternative to the hegemonic American perspective in contemporary Vietnamese history, and the complexity of international altruism should see this film. It is certainly one of the highlights of the 2009 Vietnamese International Film Festival,” said Ngo.
There will also be a Q&A following the screening with the film’ producer and director, Tammy Nguyen Lee. “We had our world premiere at ViFF and are thrilled to return to Southern California to share this inspiring story during what is a most significant month for our community’s history,” said Lee, a MFA graduate from UCLA’s Producers Program.
The free community screening is sponsored by the UCI Department of Anthropology, UCI Vietnamese American Coalition (VAC), UCI Asian Pacific Student Association (APSA) and the Union of Vietnamese Students Association of Southern California (UVSA). Tammy Nguyen Lee is a first generation Vietnamese American and founded ATG Against the Grain Productions, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, to promote Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects, while also raising funds for international orphanages. This is her feature documentary directorial debut. For more information please visitwww.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com. Additional information for the UCI community screening is available at www.TheBabylift.com or www.vietfilmfest.com.
Our upcomingcommunity screening in New Jersey of Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam is in the Bayshore Courier News. To see the original article, please visit their website.
Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam
Bayshore Courier News Posted:04/19/10
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Holmdel – On April 3, 1975, United States President Gerald R. Ford announced that “Operation Babylift” would fly some of the estimated 70,000 Vietnamese babies and children who were left orphaned by the Vietnam War to safety in America. Thirty flights, combining private and military planes, transported at least 2,000 children to the United States and another 1,300 children to Canada, Europe and Australia. These children, born in a war-torn land, grew up as members of international, adoptive families.
On Saturday, April 24, 2010 from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm, the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation will host a screening, followed by a group discussion, of the 2009 Award-Winning Film, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam in celebration of the 35th anniversary of Operation Babylift. Many of the adoptees, organizers, family and friends involved in Operation Babylift will be in attendance to celebrate the 35th anniversary.
There will also be an honor guard procession recognizing those who did not survive the humanitarian mission known as Operation Babylift. This program will be held at the Vietnam Era Educational Center in Holmdel, NJ.
Guest speakers will include event organizer and author Lana Mae Noone and her daughter Jennifer Nguyen Noone, MSW, who she adopted through Babylift. Dr. Robert Ballard, a professor at Waterloo University (Ontario, Canada) and a Babylift Adoptee, and his wife Sarah who specializes in international adoption will also speak. The director of Project Reunite Trista Goldberg, also a Babylift Adoptee, will discuss her Babylift story. The nationally acclaimed author of The Life We Were Given, Dana Sachs will be present to address the audience. Retired U.S. Army Medic Ron Speight, a Vietnam Era veteran, will provide a dialogue about Operation New Life, a humanitarian program for Vietnam adults. There will be a Vietnamese and American musical performance by Lana Mae Noone prior to the film screening. The cast and crew of Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam including Producer/Director Tammy Nguyen Lee and Associate Producer Jared Rehberg will be present for a question and answer period. The documentary, which was partly filmed in New Jersey, tells the contemporary story of the adoptees as adults. Several of the day’s speakers are featured in the film. Book signings and a reception with the opportunity to view Operation Babylift artifacts will follow the film screening. The event schedule is available for view on njvvmf.org. The program is dedicated to all those who did not survive Operation Babylift.
Attendees are asked to RSVP to (732) 335-0033. Regular admission applies. Regular admission is free for veterans and active-duty military personnel. Regular adult admission is $4.00; student and senior citizen admission is $2.00; and children under 10 are admitted free. The Vietnam Era Educational Center is located adjacent to the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial off the Garden State Parkway at exit 116. The Educational Center is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm.
The Asian/Pacific/American Institute of New York University will host a screening and discussion of the award-winning documentary Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm this Friday, April 23rd at the Cantor Film Center, located at 36 East 8th Street, Theater 101, New York. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. RSVP via the A/P/A Institute website, email email@example.com or call 212-992-9653.
Operation Babylift was a $2 million U.S. initiative that airlifted more than 2,500 Vietnamese orphans out of a war-torn country in 1975 to protect them from the impending threat of the Communist regime. Called one of the “most humanitarian efforts in history,” it was plagued by lawsuits and political turmoil.
The documentary, released in 2009, takes a candid look at Operation Babylift as seen through the eyes of the volunteers, parents and organizations directly involved. It uncovers the lost stories of the adoptees and who they have become as adults, revealing their compelling struggles and triumphs and giving them the opportunity to finally share their journeys from their perspectives.
This event celebrates the 35th anniversary of Operation Babylift and joins conversations about child rescue and adoption that have intensified in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti. A post-screening panel will discuss Operation Babylift as well as the issues faced by adoptees from Asia.
Tammy Nguyen Lee, Filmmaker, Operation Babylift
Jared Rehberg, Associate Producer and adoptee participant, Operation Babylift
Tara Leaman, Associate Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and adoptee participant,Operation Babylift
Marissa Martin, President of Also-Known-As, Inc.
Lili Johnson, NYU Student, Dept of Social & Cultural Analysis, and adoptee from China
Moderated by Laura Chen-Schultz, Deputy Director, A/P/A Institute at NYU
The screening is made possible by support from the NYU Center for Media, Culture and History/Center for Religion and Media.Co-sponsored by Familes with Children from China of Greater New York and Also Known As, Inc.
To RSVP, visit the A/P/A Institute Operation Babylift Event Page.