Vietnamese youth and their adaptation in Hong Kong
Of the Vietnamese boat people in Hong Kong, a large number were children. They came by themselves or with their parents. As children, their ‘refugee’ experiences were quite different from that of the adults. I was an art teacher at a refugee camp during 1997-2000. This chapter is based on my experiences with the children and youth during this time and my research on their adaptation to outside life after they were released from the camps. It sketches the life of Vietnamese children in refugee camps during the 1990s, a childhood full of iron bars, fighting, drugs and an imperishable desire for freedom. After the closure of the last camp in 2000, these ‘camp kids’ settled into Hong Kong society and entered a new episode of their lives. However, in the early years of their postcamp life, they encountered much discrimination and found it hard to integrate. Instead of building a new sense of identity in Hong Kong society, they held nostalgic memories about camp life and found the friendship and sense of community developed during that time something to cherish.