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Guide to the Thomas Joel Wilson Files on Vietnamese Refugees
MS-SEA023  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
This collection contains Vietnamese refugees' stories written or collected by Thomas Joel Wilson, and letters from Wilson, as founder of Project Ngoc and chairman of Project Deliverance, related to the refugee camps in Southeast Asia.
Background
Thomas Joel Wilson graduated in mathematics from the University of California, Irvine (UCI). In the spring of 1987, he initiated a new class, designed to let students earn college credit while becoming political activists on behalf of Vietnamese refugees. The class was inspired by the Santa Ana-based Project Deliverance and the San Diego-based Boat People SOS Committee, two groups seeking to help people who fled the Communist regime in Vietnam. The purpose of the class, Wilson said, was to mobilize support for people who escaped Vietnam only to be victimized by Thai pirates, warring factions in Kampuchea and Thailand, and a system that often kept refugees trapped in Southeast Asian camps for years. Wilson, a former elementary school teacher who was working at that time on a master's degree in mathematics, sought faculty support for the class because of his increasing awareness of Vietnamese refugees' problems. For years, close Vietnamese friends had told him harrowing stories about their escape from Vietnam. Known as "Project Ngoc" or "Project Pearl", the class was actually named after a young girl, a character in a short story Wilson wrote based on Vietnamese boat people's testimonies. That story, which Wilson photocopied and distributed on campus in spring 1987, was partly responsible for the success of the class.
Extent
0.2 linear feet (1 box)
Restrictions
Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and University Archives.
Availability
Collection open for research.