Our Village Story

An Bằng Village, Vietnam

An Bằng Village (pronounced AHN BAANG) is located along the central eastern coast of Vietnam. 

The Significance of Preserving our Oral History

The Vietnamese Diaspora has a population of 4 million people, over half of whom live in the United States. Countless families and village members have been physically separated for decades and scattered across five continents since the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Recent generations from our village have been born and/or raised in other countries since the first boat left the An Bằng beach shores in 1978. Here we gather and share the history of our village, which many of us have not heard before.

 As a diaspora community of boat people, refugees, immigrants, and descendants from An Bằng Village, we carry with us our village's history and future. Since there are no physical textbooks containing the history of our village, this is the first intensive effort led by An Bằng youth to document the oral history dictated to us by the elders. We believe it is important to preserve our history for future generations of descendants.

Contemporary Reenactment of An Bằng Village's 1st Boat Refugees

This film is a reenactment of the first boat that left the shores of An Bằng Village on July 15, 1978. It was produced for the An Bằng Villagers Abroad Conference held in July 2019.

These series of events were a shock to the entire village at the time. Our village refers to these 7 young men in the boat as the "Pioneers" from An Bằng. It was because of this first boat that a path was created for other boats to follow, and thus changed the entire landscape of the An Bằng Village as we know it today and its successive generations.

Watch this video re-enactment of the first boat people leaving the shores of our village after the Fall of Saigon

The An Bằng Founders had a close relationship with warlord Nguyen Hoang when he came from the South (Thuan Hoa) to meet King Le in Thanh Hóa (in 1593) to help the King pacify the society after defeating the Mạc regime. Here at Thanh Hóa, in 1599, General Nguyen Hoang met some merchants from An Ba Hamlet, Cứ Hà Commune, Khang Loc District, Tan Binh (now Quang Binh Province), and he had requested the merchants to come in the following year to take him to tour the South.

In 1600, the merchants came to Thanh Hóa to board General Nguyen Hoang to visit Thuan Hoa and Quang Nam areas. On the way there, the boat crew stopped to rest at the seaport, where An Bằng Village is located today. The merchants saw that this was an ideal land, with rivers, estuaries, forests, and fields. It was a very convenient place for transportation, trading, and fishing. Therefore, they requested permission from the General for them to establish themselves here after the tour, and the General agreed.

After the trip, the merchants brought their families, relatives, and friends to settle at the place they discovered during the tour. They set up a Ward, and were responsible for taking care of the coastal area ranging from Thuan An to Canh Duong. They were also given a tax exemption. 

The Founders & Developers of An-Bằng

This diagram denotes where the founders originated from and where the modern day An Bằng Village is located today. 

The last names of the founders:

The last names of the developers:

How An-Bằng Got Its Name

Our ancestors came from An Ba Hamlet and they named the new area An Đôi. Under Warlord Nguyễn Phúc Thái, the ward's name was changed to An Bằng due to the conflict with the warlord's mother's name, Đoàn Thị Đôi. 

The name of our village has changed throughout multiple eras!

Connected by a Very Unique Accent

Our accent originated from Quang Binh, however, the past and current generations have socialized with other people in the present-day region with different accents. This is why our accent has changed over time and has become a very unique accent which helps us recognize each other.

The Village's Composition Today

Our village is now comprised of 45 family clans living side by side. A clan encompasses an extended family that are related to each other including parents and siblings, in addition to cousins, second cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even distant cousins. 

From the original founders and developers who started the village, this figure shows the village composition today (best viewed on desktop):

Our Diaspora Story

During the Fall of Saigon in the fall of 1975, South Vietnam was about to be controlled by the Communist Regime of the North. 

There were 7 Anbangers along with a staggering 210,000 people in the south who fled Vietnam. 

By way of ocean crossing, the first boat left An Bằng beach in July of 1978. This group of courageous young men pioneered a way for many successive ocean crossings from An Bằng beach thereafter. 

Shown here are the villagers who crossed the perilous ocean from An Bằng beach in the first trip in July, 1978

These are the statistics showcasing the waves of boat people that fled from the shores of An Bằng beach by year. The largest departure was in 1980 with 26 boats transporting almost 600 people (best viewed on desktop).

Celebrating the Present-Day Diaspora Village Bonds

Presently, thousands of An Bằng villagers and descendants have resettled all around the world across the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Denmark, and more. Many original families still live contently in An Bằng Village, Vietnam. For almost fifty years, multiple waves of refugees and immigrants have continued to stay in touch with one another  -- reconnected by different eras of technological advancements (ranging from international calling cards, letters, emails, and pay-per-text SMS back in the day to modern-day technologies like social media platforms, data-intensive video calling, and more). The youngest generation of descendants have gone on to select their trades, graduate college, build their careers, and travel the world. Many of the eldest generation are finally able to reap the rewards and enjoy a time of immense rest after the countless sacrifices for many decades. The village grapevine is constantly churning around the world with new information and gossip through an informal word-of-mouth network consisting of parents, aunts, uncles, and various levels of village elders.