Dear members of the community of the Vietnamese culture,
My name is Bao, and I'd like to request support for a not-so-little project, a English-language Vietnamese Folklore database. Its aim is to be a comprehensive repository of the myths, legends, tales, folklore, belief systems, and traditions of the Vietnamese culture.
The application of this project is to make available the vast and rich Vietnamese culture to a growing population of youths who find it easier to identify with other cultures than with Vietnamese because of the available media, both educational and commercial. Think of it this way: you're more likely to find a young Vietnamese American who knows who Zeus is (the supreme god of Greek mythology) but not know who Lac Long Quan is (the dragon lord considered the father of the Vietnamese peoples); or that they know that Excalibur refers to King Arthur's sword, but have never heard of the legendary sword Thuan Thien in Vietnamese folklore.
The second group of people are really all other English-speaking Americans who have a poor understanding of the Vietnamese culture, such as those who plan on visiting Vietnam, parents who adopt Vietnamese children, or teachers that want to facilitate cross-cultural learning.
Having an understanding of folklore allows people to share a common "language" in which to share their experiences, such as when you describe a couple you know as being lovers like Romeo & Juliet. But if the other person cannot feel the love between Trong Thuy & My Chau, or can't appreciate the tragic pain of Thuy Kieu, or understand a person's courage like Thanh Giong, it becomes difficult to express what you really mean. I hope that giving the community the ability to share its volumes of staple tales and stories can improve the relationship and communication between friends and family, just as I have learned to appreciate Greek/Roman mythology, Beowulf of Norse literature, or even the superheroes of the Marvel comics universe, which allows me to understand much of mainstream American culture.
What I am asking for are contributors in the way of writers. As I'm sure there are plenty of resources in the Vietnamese language, translating those documents can also be useful.
The database will be stored onto a publicly-accessible wiki so that many contributors can easily create a page and start writing. You can find some of the articles I started posting at http://vietnamese.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Folklore
A good question raised is whether we will put entire books or lengthy stories onto the website, and my initial response is that I don't want to limit people to what they want to contribute, but I would advise giving a summary at the beginning of the article, and then adding a lengthier account after that if they choose to.
Please forward this letter to your friends. If you have any questions, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.