The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam
A Lecture by Dana Sachs
Sponsored By:The Institute of International Humanitarian AffairsFordham University Literary Studies Department
Monday April 26th at 4:00 PM
Lincoln Center Campus
In April 1975, just before the fall of Saigon, the U.S. government launched “Operation Babylift,” a highly publicized plan that would evacuate nearly three thousand displaced Vietnamese children and place them with adoptive families overseas. Many of these children had been living in orphanages their entire lives and needed loving homes, but a significant minority had parents who, because of the war, had placed them in these facilities temporarily because they found themselves unable to care for them. Other parents, including mothers of mixed-race children fathered by American G.I.s, panicked as the Communists approached and put their children on the Babylift out of fear that the new regime would murder them. Once the children flew overseas, however, they all became “orphans” in the eyes of the world, and their adoptions—except for in the few cases in which birthparents were able to legally dispute them—were final.
To compile a comprehensive account of this story, Dana Sachs spent nearly a year in Vietnam, where she spoke with birthparents, former medical workers and nursery staff, orphans who remained in Vietnam, and political leaders who watched these events unfold at the time. Back in the United States, she interviewed adoptive parents, adoption agency staff, critics of the Babylift and, of course, the children themselves, who are grown now and struggling to understand what happened to them then. In her talk, Sachs will recount the story of Operation Babylift, describe her efforts to untangle the varying accounts of the evacuation, and discuss the ways in which these events raise timely questions about international adoption, humanitarian aid efforts, and the human cost of war.
Dana Sachs is the author of The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam (Algonquin, 2000), the novel If You Lived Here (William Morrow, 2007), and The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam (Beacon Press, 2010). With Nguyen Nguyet Cam, Sachs compiled Two Cakes Fit for a King: Folktales from Vietnam (University of Hawaii Press, 2003). With Bac Hoai Tran, she translated The Stars, the Earth, the River: Short Fiction by Le Minh Khue (Curbstone, 1996). Her essays, articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including National Geographic, The International Herald Tribune, and Huffington Post. A graduate of Wesleyan University and the MFA program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, she is the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. She teaches at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Invisible Children: Documentary and Discussion
Sponsored By:The Institute of International Humanitarian AffairsFordham Film and Television Production OrganizationGlobal OutreachProgressive Students for JusticeInvisible Children: Fordham University ChapterStudents for fair tradeThe dorothy day center for service and justice Wednesday April 21, 2010 at 7:00 PM
Keating 1st Auditorium
The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs offered a free screening and discussion of the award-winning documentary Invisible Children, which chronicles the Ugandan Civil War - Africa's longest running war. What started out as a filmmaking adventure transformed into much more when these boys from Southern California discovered a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them, a tragedy where children are both the weapons and the victims. Rebel armies, known as the Lord's Resistance Army, have been abducting children and using them as troops while they wage war against the Ugandan government. This originally caused the children to night commute, or walk miles nightly to avoid these troops. It is estimated that 90% of the LRA is abducted children - this documentary tells their story. The film was followed by discussion with several representatives from the Invisible Children, a non-profit organization that raises awareness and increases action to end the war in Uganda and rehabilitate the devastated nation. In addition, Ofonyo Innocent - a former victim of the war - spoke about his first-hand experiences as an invisible child on the run from the Lord's Resistance Army.
The Devil Came on Horseback A Witness toEvil. AForce for Peace. An Unbelievable True Story.
The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs
Fordham University PoliticalScience Department Lincoln Center:
Thursday April 8, 2010
McMahon Hall Lounge 109
8:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Thursday April 15, 2010
Flom Auditorium, Walsh Library
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs and Fordham's Political Science Department provided a journey into the heart of Darfur, Sudan, where an Arab run government is systematically executing a plan to rid the province of its black African citizens. As an official military observer, Marine Captain Brian Steidle had access to parts of the country that no journalist could infiltrate. He was unprepared for what he would witness and experience, including being fired upon, taken hostage, and being unable to intervene to save the lives of young children. Using exclusive photographs and first hand testimony, the viewer is taken on an emotionally charged journey into the heart of Darfur. A short discussion followed the screening of this award-winning documentary
The 2010 Spring Gannon Lecture: Chris Lowney
Presented By: The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Friday April 16, 2010
Fordham University Rose Hill Campus
5:30 p.m. Reception
6:30 p.m. Lecture
A Former Jesuit seminarian, Chris Lowney served as managing director of JP Morgan and held senior positions in New York, Tokyo, Singapore and London before leaving the firm in 2001. He is the author of Heroic Living (2009), A Vanished World: Medieval Spain's Golden Age of Enlightenment (2005) and the bestselling Heroic Leadership: Best Practices From a 450-Year-Old Company That Changed the World (2003)
2009 Tribeca Film Festival Award Winner for Best Documentary
Mercy Center The Institute of International Affairs at Fordham UniversityProgressive Students for Justice: Women's Empowerment
Friday March 19, 2010 at 7:00 PM
Leonard Theater at Fordham Prep
The Mercy Center, along with The Institute for International Humanitarian Affairs and Fordham's Progressive Students for Justice's Women's Empowerment group, presented a free screening of Pray the Devil Back to Hell, an award-winning documentary chronicling a group of brave and visionary women who demanded peace for Liberia, a nation torn to shreds by a decades old civil war.
The film documents a peace movement called Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. Organized by social worker Leymah Gbowee, the movement started with praying and singing in a local fish market. Leymah Gbowee organized the Christian and Muslim women of Monrovia, Liberia to pray for peace and to organize nonviolence protests. Dressed in white to symbolize peace, and numbering in the thousands, the women became a political force against violence and against their own government.
The film was followed by a discussion with the producer Abigail E. Disney and activist Agnes Fallah Kamara-Umunna, one of the women profiled in the film.
"Armed only with white T-shirts and courage, these women brought down a dictator and ended a long, brutal war."
2010 Frontiers of Humanitarianism Conference:
Contradictions and Convergences in State-Building, Peace-Building, and Humanitarian Action
The consortium on security and humanitarian action
The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University, The School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, The Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at The Graduate Center of The City University of NewYork,and The Center for Global Affairs and The Wagner School of Public Service at New York University
Hosted by New York University
March 3, 2010
8:00 AM to 3:15 PM
The Wagner School of Public Service Rudin Forum, 2nd Floor 295 Lafayette Street
Ongoing conflicts, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, and the challenges of reconstruction in other post-conflict environments continue to highlight the complementarities and contradictions between state-building, peace-building, and humanitarian action in both theoretical and practical terms. While some argue that there has been an operational convergence between state-building and peace-building, others arguet that these processes co-exist in an awkward, uneven, and contradictory tension. These dynamics can be seen in areas including, but not limited to security sector reform efforts, the often fragmented and contradictory actions of external donors, efforts for transitional justice, and the creation of the UN Peacebuilding Commission.
This seminar explored the intersections between these concepts at the theoretical, operational, organizational, and policy levels. The focus was on identifying the complementarities and contradictions through analyses of the policies and practices of donors and operational agencies, as well as through specific country case studies.