Cover Photo: Three figures line the foreground in prayer positions. One of the figures, a woman, holds incenses that smoke.  In the background there is  a gate with a cross on the top with a Virgin Mary figure underneath.
Illustration by Sirin Thada for Catapult

Seeking Sacred Spaces in Vietnamese New Orleans

Here, Vietnamese people hold the distinction of having been refugees twice over—first from Vietnam, second from Hurricane Katrina.

After my parents divorced and my father was given primary custody of my brother and me, however, my sense of in-between-ness only grew. I was certainly American, resembling my Midwestern white father, but I was also half-Vietnamese. After losing custody, my mother drew a veil across her spiritual life. Her Buddhist beliefs became even more distant to me, along with any sense of my Vietnamese identity. She and I argued more and more, too, sometimes even becoming estranged.

Weathering Katrina: Culture and Recovery Among Vietnamese Americans

Based in Arlington, Virginia, Kim O'Connell writes about history, nature, culture, design, and food, and especially enjoys when those things intersect. Bylines have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Ladies Home Journal, Atlas Obscura, and other national and regional publications.