VYEA History Page - vyea

Overview of VYEA

In continuous operation since 1977, the Vietnamese Youth Educational Association (VYEA) is best known for its Viet Summer School, or Lớp Hè Tiếng Việt (LHTV), a 6-week summer school attended by American youths interested in their Viet heritage.

Attendance varies from 200 to 450 students each year. The staff of about 50 comprise of all volunteers chiefly from parents.

Directed by a 10-person Board of Directors whose members double as the Executive Commitee and a loosely organized PTA called Team ACE, the Summer School directly and faithfully fulfills the Association’s stated missions:

Teach the Vietnamese language

Promulgate the Vietnamese culture within American society

Strengthen traditional values

At the Summer School, the students are taught the Viet Language (Reading, Writing, Spelling, Social Studies, Conversation) in a curriculum spread over 7 grade levels. But it is the communal social setting supported by the teaching of Viet music, songs and dances that stay with the people brought together in this community called “VYEA”.

Estimating 100 new students per year for the last 35 years, 3,500 individuals in total have attended the VYEA LHTV. This is 1/6 of the Viet population, or roughly (1/3) of the Viet children population in Fairfax and Arlington counties. Background


From Vietnam, ‘‘South’’ to Washington, ‘‘D.C.’’

A Brief Historical Timeline

On November 1, 1963, South Vietnam President Ngô Đình Diệm & his brother were assassinated. A mere 3 weeks later U.S. President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas Texas. His successor escalated the U.S. involvement. In 1965, US Marines landed in Đà Nẵng. In 1968 the Tết Offensive saw a great decimation of the Communist force but ironically was followed by the defeat of will of the American people to support this far-flung domino. After the 1972 so-called Easter Offensive, the President Nixon was already set for exit from Vietnam following his visit to China. In 1973 the Paris Peace Accord was signed, US troops withdrew from Viet Nam. The next year, the U.S. Congress voted against emergency aid to South Viet Nam, setting the stage for the Fall of Saigon in April of 1975. :Our exodus began.

Why a VYEA

First year in exile, build a school [3]

Lý Long Tường (Hán tự: 李龍祥; 1174-?) was a prince of the Lý Dynasty of Đại Việt (the name of Vietnam at that time) and later became Lee of Hwasan, General of Korea. He is an ancestor of one branch of the Lee (or Rhee) family today in both South and North Korea. In 1226, (Kiến Trung’s year of the Second Tran Dynasty of Thái Tông), in order to avoid further bloodshed by the Tran family, Lý Long Tường, together with 6000 mandarins and servants departed from the Thần Phù (now Thanh Hóa Province) estuary and fled to the Biển Đông (East Sea, also South China Sea) in three large ships. They carried with them worships, i.e. the imperial crown, imperial costumes, and the Thượng phương bảo kiếm (heaven imperial sword).

After a month on the high seas, they were forced to land in Taiwan due to a typhoon. When Lý Long Tường decided to leave, his son Lý Long Hiền was severely ill and had to stay in Taiwan together with 200 mandarins, followers and servants. Lý Long Tường continued northwards to Ongjin County and then on to Haeju, Hwanghae in the Yellow Sea. Legend has it that the Korean king Kojong of the Goryeo Dynasty (1192–1259) had dreamt of a grand phoenix flying from the south and landing in his nation. Therefore, he ordered the local government of Hae-ju to give the Vietnamese refugees a red-carpeted welcome and allow them to live in a manor in his country.

Lý Long Tường and his companions started their culture of fishing and breeding. He also opened a Độc thư đường, taught literature (poetry, rhythmical prose and worship rituals) and constructed a school to teach martial arts - the art of war. Thousands of local students joined his two schools.

Some eight centuries later, some of the Viets are again on the move, this time on a grander scale. Thus we saw throughout the diaspora of the Viet people, in the Little Saigons in cities and towns large and small, the Viet schools that started by parents, barely settled in the new land.

For example, in California [4], there were at least 31 Vietnamese language schools in 2002. In the same way that generations of immigrants who came before them had done so, the Vietnamese community members who came early to the Washington DC area sought to build new connections with the new land. At the same time, they sought to hold on to the old connections—the part of our public memory and the shared experience that formed our common bonds.

One of these connections is the belief in the primacy of education in our value system, a belief instilled in all Vietnamese starting at a young age. From the early days on Guam and Wake Islands, to the dark shores of Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, to the hopeless barbed-wired cinderblock houses of the Whitehead detention camps in Hong Kong, wherever there were Vietnamese children, there were schools.

We teach our children not out of immediate necessity; we do so out of the sense that such activity is fundamental to the way we view ourselves as a people.

History of VYEA


The LHTV 2010 Summer School was taught by 53 teachers in the Language classes, 20 instructors in the Popular_Culture_Program and 4 TA counselors. The special programs for Youth called Popular Culture (PC) inaugurated in 2010 with some 30 students were taught by 6 lecturers in the Cultural class, by a staff of 6 in the Food Tasting class and a staff of 5 in the Self Defense class.

Profile of a VYEA Teacher, 2010

The typical LHTV teacher is a working mother who joins up when her child enters the school the first time.

Incidentally, among these in 2010 were 3 physicians, 2 dentists, and 4 Ph.D.'s, a policeman, and a full Colonel in the U.S. Airforce! (5 The last one was simultaneously a woman, a physician, a soldier, and a VYEA teacher.

As shown in the chart, the lower grades are typically taught by teachers with one to three years of experience with the school, side by side with a few very experienced ones. A third of the 53 teachers have been with VYEA for at least 5 years.

VYEA Summer School Teacher, 2010

A typical VYEA Summer School Class Schedule

Topics covered by the LHTV Material include:

Spelling: Basic phonemes, How to read a Viet word and pronounce it correctly, and how to write correctly from hearing the spoken word. Modern Vietnamese is based on the Roman alphabet. Spelling is taught using the Phonetic Method [6] .

Vocabulary: A total of 800 Viet words/phrases are taught, incrementally, from Grade 1 through 6. Each summer a student typically encounters 200 words, taught directly using graphics (grades 1 and 2) in conjunction with English. Starting grade 3, (see [7]) most vocabulary is learned as part of short sentences and from reading stories.

Sentences: The basic grammatical rules are taught mainly through pattern matching. Emphasis is placed on the simplest, short and loosely-structured sentences, just the way the Viet language is used.

Reading: There are a total of 26 stories in 3 levels. Level 1 are simple picture stories, Level 2 are more serious 12-panel picture stories, and Level 3 are single page word-only stories.

Verses, Conservations, Social Studies: These are additional lessons to teach vocabulary, history and conversational Vietnamese with the common subtext being the social norms of the Viet tradition.

VYEA 1975-1995

Founders Chử Bá Anh & Vi Khuê

Mr. Chử Bá Anh (CBA), born in 1935 in Hanoi Vietnam and was raised in Ha Noi and spent his early years in Phong Điền, Quảng Nam. During his youth, he attended the Jesuit-run Pellerin High School in Hue. While in Huế, he fell in love with the voice of a young announcer on national Radio and worked hard to land a job there to court her, successfully, in 1954.

Mrs. Chử Bá Anh, née Trần Trinh Thuận, pen named Vi Khuê (VK), was born in 1931 in Vientianne, Laos. Together with her family, she returned to her home town of Thạch Bình, central Vietnam, in 1945, in the midst of chaos of the Communist-Japanese power struggle that would soon come to an end. She launched her career as a writer and announcer at the Huế radio station.

CBA - VK The Early Years

Following his father’s footstep, CBA pursued a career as a teacher. In the period from 1954 to 1957 in Huế, he started a school named Việt Hương. In 1957, the family, which at this point included daughter Nhất Anh and son Nhị Anh moved to the city of Dalat where CBA’s father, Mr. Chử Ngọc Liễn, was recently appointed as the city mayor under Vietnam’s First Republic led by the Ngô Đình Diệm government.

VK continued her career as a civil servant at the City News Administration (Ty Thông Tin) in Dalat. She also attended Dalat University between 1969 and 1972 and completed her Bachelor of Arts in Sino-Vietnamese Literature.

Between 1958 and 1966, the Việt Hương school re-emerged in Dalat as the Primary High School Hiếu Học (Trung Học đệ Nhất Cấp), then became the Primary and Secondary Văn Học (1966-1975). These schools were located on Hòang Diệu road, serving the population at the city center.

In 1971, CBA received a financial grant from the USAID to build a grand school in the outskirt of Dalat City, near the famous Hồ Than Thở (The Lovers Lake), specifically aimed at supporting the children of working farming families. The two-storied building had 12 large classrooms on 3 acres of land, opened as the Primary High School Văn Khoa. VK served as Văn Khoa’s principal until 1975. Today the building stands as the Chi Lăng High School.

Below is a rare snap-shot of CBA and VK at the refugee camp on Wake Island in May, 1975. The picture was uncovered from the web site of Guam reporter Dennis Lowden archive material on the Vietnam War during the preparation of material for the Popular Culture class at VYEA in 2010.


Here is a rare snap-shot of CBA and VK at the refugee camp on Wake Island in May, 1975. The picture was uncovered from the web site of Guam reporter Dennis Lowden archive material on the Vietnam War during the preparation of material for the Popular Culture class at VYEA in 2010.


The family of CBA&VK made news in the South Vietnamese press in 1974 when their four children all passed the National Baccalaureate together with high honors in the very first so-called IBM exam when multiple-choice exams were given the first time with computerized grading. The youngest sibling received the highest passing scores in the city at the age of 15.

Besides the novelty of a multi-dimensional fairy tale, it is a notable success story of CBA&VK as parents and as educators.

The story repeated itself when the four graduated at the same time from Catholic University in Washington D.C. in May 1979 and the family portrait landed on the front-page of the Washington Post Sunday Edition. Subsequently the children pursued graduate studies at Georgetown University and MIT, receiving M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from these institutions.

VK was selected a finalist in the national competition for Poet Laureate of 1971 with her nationally-acclaimed poem book Giọt Lệ. That was her first and only publication in her home country. Her literature career flourished after the family evacuated to the U.S. in 1975, with a professional writer career for several Vietnamese language magazines (including Phụ Nữ Diễn Đàn, 1988-1998), as well as the publication of her novelettes and poetry books, including the highy acclaimed Cát Vàng (Golden Sand) in 1986.

In Burke Virginia, 1988, CBA founded the CBA News Service to support hundreds Viet publications in the U.S. and overseas. It provided news in Viet language within 24 hours and distributed via the Internet (AOL mail!) using the first home grown Viet type faces set on a Macintosh Plus. One primary news source was the broadcasts from BBC and VOA, intercepted off the air using C-band satellite equipment.

The Board of Directors, Committees and TACE

VYEA is incorporated in Virginia in 1977. The By Laws establishes a Board of Directors and a number of committees. From 2000 to 2005, the BoD included 5 core members and since then has added to a total of 10 members. All directors actively participating in VYEA LHTV activities are in the Executive Committee.

The VYEA president appoints a Summer School principal and a panel of scholars into the Material committee. Self-selected PTA members participate side-by-side with the BoD and the Committees in LHTV activities.

The Team Anh Chi Em (TACE) is a mailing list used to coordinate them with the BoD.


A tax-exempt corporation under IRS code 501(c)(3), VYEA is largely self-funded and draws income from students fee and from donations through the United Way/ Combined Federal Campaign. Its main expenditures comprise of Facility renting, typically 18 class rooms for 18x3 hour sessions from Fairfax county public school Community Use program; Workbook printing, 600 binders with 300 pages on average; Token of appreciation for some 60 volunteers (Teachers, Staff); Students Prizes.

VYEA Typical Budget (2007)


The VYEA organization including the staff of the Summer School (LHTV) is made up entirely from parents of the LHTV students throughout the years. In addition to in-class teaching, parents also organize into parent teacher association (PTA) committees to support the LHTV during the school sessions.

In 2010, there were 39 PTA members to staff the various functions during the school hours: Photography (5), Food (13), Performances (8), Office (8), and Safety (5).

Since 2008, the parents have also organized an exercise class, attended by some 60 to 100 parents while their children are in school. The particular form of exercise is a Vietnamese version of Integrated Tai Chi, comprising of 10 movements. CK10 stands for Càn Khôn Thập Linh, literally “10 movements (spanning) heaven and earth”. The class was taught by 4 instructors.

PTA volunteers - a profile

The History of VYEA

VYEA Foundation

The Vietnamese Youth Educational Association was formed in 1977, a year after the first Lớp Hè Tiếng Việt was taught by Cô Chử Nhất Anh at Gunston High School in Arlington, Virginia.

VYEA was founded by Mr. Chử Bá Anh (CBA) and his wife, Vi Khuê (VK), both teachers and high school principals in their homeland. Mr. CBA laid the foundation for VYEA serving as its President, established the By-Laws and formed a stable Board of Directors. Simultaneously Mr. CBA served as the Principal of the Lớp Hè Tiếng Việt with VK as the head of the Material committee.

The first generation VYEA came to an end in 1996 upon CBA’s passing at the age of 62. After a year’s break, VYEA was resurrected for and by the next generation under the guidance of the last school principal Mrs. Lê Tống Mộng Hoa, with the VYEA Presidency transitioned to Cô Chử Nhất Anh. The Material committee continued under VK, assisted by Dr. Chử Nhị Anh. A new Board of Directors and Principal was established which still function to this day.

VYEA 1996-2010

The focus of the second generation VYEA is on the Lớp Hè Tiếng Việt. The VYEA is largely dormant thoughout the months until March, when a general meeting for its members is convened. VYEA membership comprises of the core group from the Board of Directors called the BCH, and loosely associated members which include the standing PTA called the TACE, and teachers who mostly come from the ranks of Parents, present and past.

On the first of May, on-line registration is opened. The applications are immediately processed and the Principal works to move the students into the best grade/class. Books are printed a week before class, which starts a week after the end of public schools in mid June. :In addition to the core Viet Language classes, a variety of short-term or even ad-hoc projects are experimented with to add to the variety of ways to keep the students engaged with their peers beyond their natural tendendies.

These include: Students Viet Culture Performance at term end; The Teaching Assistant (TA) Program and the Popular Culture (PC) classes, aiming at keeping young Viet students who would otherwise be exiting the school after completing the highest grade; The Phoenix Viet Youth Orchestra (VYO, 2006-2008); Càn Khôn Thập Linh (CK10), a physical training program based on Tai Chi set up for parents.

VYEA Extracurricular Activities

The Summer School Facilities

The Viet Summer School, Lớp Hè Tiếng Việt (LHTV), is physically located in a public school provided by the Fairfax County Public School through the “Community Use” program.


  • Lake Braddock High School in Fairfax, Virginia -- a typical facility for VYEA Summer School.

    Lake Braddock High School in Fairfax, Virginia -- a typical facility for VYEA Summer School.

  • Floor plan showing allocations of some 20 rooms for the VYEA Summer School.

    Floor plan showing allocations of some 20 rooms for the VYEA Summer School.

In a typical LHTV, as shown in the floorplan above, there are 18 rooms used for traditional teaching, with about 25 sets of student desk-and-chairs, an office, and the use of the school’s cafeteria for the first-day registration and meeting with parents. Recently, the cafeteria is used for the CK10 class. At term’s end, the school’s auditorium (about 700 to 1000 seats) is used for the Graduation ceremonies.

Typical rental fees from 13 to 17 thousand dollars are paid to the Fairfax County Public School, mostly for custodian services.

VYEA Students

From 1996 to 2011, the LHTV students have come mostly from Fairfax County, and smaller numbers from Arlington and Alexandria, all in Virginia.

For the LHTV in 2010, here is the student profile by Age and Class. There are 7 grade levels from 1 to 7, plus the special classes PC and TA. Grade 1 is divided into 3 grades: A, B and C. Two classes 1A1 and 1A2 are needed accomodate all the students of grade 1. The chart shows that the median ages were 6.25, 6.8, 7.4, and 8.4 years of age, respectively for 1A1, 1A2, 1B and 1D. Grade 2 material is for graduates of grade 1, or first time Viet language students. These students were seggregated more or less by age into classes A through F. These classes E and F had several people up to 22 years of age. Similarly, for grades 4-7, students are split into groups of similar ages. Class 7A is different from the rest in that the material is individualized by the home room teacher to fit many students who graduated from grade 6 and wanted to stay in school year after year - there is no higher grade to go to.

The TA (Teaching Assistant) class is another place where the graduates go. They help the teachers in class, and help the school administer exams and perform chores.

The Pop Culture (PC) class is yet another alernative for those done with traditional language classes. In the inaugural program (2010), students were taught (a) A taste of the Viet foods - literally; (b) Chi-mai self-defense; and (c) Six lectures on Viet culture, including an overview, the origin of the Viet Language and scripts, Viet Religions and Spiritual Life, Viet Customs and Habits, History and Geography of Vietnam, and an exposure to the facts surrounding the Vietnamese Diaspora.

Students Age and Class Profile

Students Attitude

The following video was made by the TA class of 2010, addressing the question: Why are you going to LHTV to the student body. The typical response is, frankly, *My parents made me!^. It’s true, the VYEA parents make the school. The students also love it at LHTV.

The Summer School Material

The standard text used for LHTV from 2003 to date was authored by the VYEA Material Committee. It is available on line. Each student receives the material in a 3-ring binder of 100 pages (Grade 1A) to 350 pages (Grade 6-7), printed in black and white, 8.5"x11".

The material is organized around the 2 hour classes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays for 6 weeks. Approximately, each class day is organized into 20-minute periods, and each page of the material is clearly labeled for the period/day/week/grade.

The Viet Language Study material is in a format of work-book which contains both the teaching material and exercises.

Recently, modern versions of this material has been made available using the memrise technology.

Samples from the LHTV Workbook (Grades 2/3)

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