Vanessa

Jeffrey Brody is a professor of Communications and member of the Asian-American Studies Program Council at California State University, Fullerton. He teaches advanced writing classes, courses on mass communication and society, and media and diversity. He has a distinguished record advising student publications.

His research interests include the Internet, ethnic press, newspaper industry and the Vietnamese American experience. He is co-author of "The Newspaper Publishing Industry," and an oral history of Yen Do, the founder of the Nguoi Viet Daily News, the largest Vietnamese-language newspaper in the United States. Brody also has been associate producer of "Saigon USA," a documentary film, and selections from his documentary photography exhibit, "The Vietnamese: Self Portrait of a People," were included for an exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum in Washington, D.C. and for a touring Smithsonian exhibit in cities across the United States.

Brody has a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and received doctoral equivalency from California State University, Fullerton. He is an award-winning reporter with more than a dozen years experience the newspaper industry and has written freelance articles for newspapers and magazines. Brody has appeared on a ABC "Nightline" segment and been interviewed by "The New York Times," "The Los Angeles Times," and other major publications. He has received grants from the Ford Foundation and been a Jefferson Fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii.

Contact Jeff atjbrody@fullerton.edu.

A letter from Professor Brody

Our students learned many lessons on this trip to Vietnam. The biggest one was the difference between living in a democracy and in a communist dictatorship. While Vietnam has progressed toward a free market economy, it still remains a police state. We experienced this during our time reporting in Ho Chi Minh City and in Nha Trang, working on a medical mission with Project Vietnam, a group of physicians, dentists and nurses from the United States. The students worked as volunteers and served as a communications team for Project Vietnam.

While modern skyscrapers and office buildings have sprouted in Ho Chi Minh City, which most people still refer to by its old name, Saigon, poverty lies tucked beneath the shadows of the high-rises. David Le, Madeleine Skains and Sima Sarraf, befriended a family living in an alley and began to record and photograph impressions of their daily life. The grandmother sold food on a street corner and the children lived in a room so packed some had to sleep outdoors. The students were moved by the plight of this family.

Their cameras and video equipment attracted attention from neighbors, including a block captain whose job is to report suspicious activity to the police. The next thing the students knew, officers who demanded their names and photo cards were interrogating them.
The students who feared arrest cut short their reporting. Luckily, they kept their photo cards and had enough material for a story. But for the rest of the trip, the class was wary of the police.

They had a right to be because local government officials almost stopped the medical mission in Nha Trang from helping the poor in Vietnam. It seemed some local officials didn’t want “foreigners” providing medical aid in rural areas. A compromise was worked out where Project Vietnam would work out of a province hospital rather than set up makeshift clinics in remote villages, as the group had done in the past. When the mission was restored, police and officials checked on what we were doing. They also confiscated medicine that Project Vietnam had brought from the states.

This websites features stories about the medical mission by Andrea Ayala, Vanessa Martinez, David Le, Sima Sarraf and Maggie Guillen. The story about the family in the alley will be published in Tusk magazine. The work from our documentary and broadcast journalism students – Tafari Akivi Gonzalez Aird, Shannon McPherson, Courtney Ponce, Madeleine Skains and Mega Sugianto – is also featured.

The students and I are thankful to Dean William Briggs, a Vietnam War veteran who accompanied the class and assisted the students on the trip. His insight into the nature of the country and the experience of the war proved invaluable. We enjoyed assisting Project Vietnam and meeting the people of Vietnam. The most valuable lesson from the trip though remains the importance of a free society and a free press.

Students from Comm 438T at Cal State Fullerton, with Dean Briggs, Professor Brody and Diana
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