BOSTON (CBS)– If you drive down Boston’s Dorchester Ave. and you’ll notice a shift in culture.
“It’s vibrant. A lot of Vietnamese restaurants. A lot Vietnamese family,” Kevin Tran, Vietnamese Cultural Liaison of Boston said.
The Little Saigon District, named after the largest city in Vietnam, was officially recognized by Boston in 2021.
It’s a neighborhood that’s embraced the rich Vietnamese heritage for decades.
“It feels more than a community. It feels like home,” Tran said.
Tran was born and raised in the neighborhood. He is someone who looks like the community and speaks the language, representing an Asian population that’s often silent and overlooked.
“Vietnamese community members don’t get the chance to reach out and ask for help. I’m very happy I get that chance to be that bridge,” Tran said.
A success story is the business My Sister’s Sandwich Café. They’re crafting the classic Bánh mì – Vietnamese sauces, meats and vegetables sandwiched between a French baguette.
“They use French bread because with the French coming to Vietnam, they try to be, they try to copy what the French do,” business owner Vivian Veth said.
It’s how the Vietnamese survived, how they adapted when the country fell to French colonial rule in the mid-19th century.
The merging of two cultures is the same way Veth assimilated when she emigrated to Boston in 1984.
“We escaped Vietnam by boat. We lost everything. We came here with nothing,” Veth said.
The discrimination they faced is why so many Vietnamese people moved to this stretch of Dorchester Ave. to make it their own.
“They wanted to be together, help each other out. We don’t speak English. It’s hard. Discrimination back then is a thing too,” Veth said.
The Veth family used that as motivation to make something of themselves.
“If we had it easy, we would not have what we have now,” Veth said.
They’re making Bánh mì their own unique way, using this Vietnamese staple that’s somewhat of a symbol of perseverance to connect people.
“I’m happy that people eat and they enjoy it,” Veth said