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Penn Valley Administrators Switch Flag of Vietnam

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By Sylvia Maria Gross

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kcur/local-kcur-637162.mp3

Kansas City, MO – Last Monday, members of Kansas City's Vietnamese American community gathered at the Penn Valley campus of the Metropolitan Community Colleges to watch the deans switch a flag in the campus center. They replaced the flag of Vietnam, which is red with a yellow star, with what's called the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag, which is yellow, with three thin red stripes. That's the old Vietnamese flag, which represented South Vietnam during the country's civil war.

KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross met with Theresa Huang, as well as Nguyen Tran, and Catherine Huang of the Vietnamese American Community of Kansas City in the lobby of the Campus Center, under an array of 192 flags of the world's countries. Over the summer, Penn Valley administrators decided to hang the flags, from a United Nations set, to honor diversity on campus. Catherine Huang says that a member of the Vietnamese American Community saw the current flag of Vietnam in the lobby.

Eight states, and many cities, including Kansas City, have passed ordinances declaring the yellow flag with red stripes the official flag of the Vietnamese American community. Vietnamese embassy officials in Washington have opposed these acts, saying they undermine the relationship between the US and Vietnamese governments.

Penn Valley has received letters from around the country applauding this decision, a large majority of Vietnamese Americans fly the Heritage flag. Other colleges around the country have been asked to switch or add it to a set of world flags. Some have ended up taking down the entire set.

This story was produced for KC Currents. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents Podcast .

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