According to the article, it sounds like Cindy, 18, said a sentence or so in Vietnamese--and then translated it for the wider audience. I know that if I were sitting in the audience, and say, it was my son, I would be damn proud--probably crying--to hear him say something in Vietnamese or Chinese.
Here's Cindy's point of view, according to the AP:
'Ms. Vo said her statement in Vietnamese was aimed at her parents, who do not speak fluent English. “Out of the whole speech, it’s one sentence dedicated to them to give thanks,” she said. “Mine was personal and general for the entire Vietnamese community and something I wanted to share with graduates.”'
She made it very clear--her parents do not speak fluent English, and this was in a way, a tribute to her parents.
The Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans sent out a press release, stating: "Having come from refugee families, many Vietnamese American students have overcome countless life obstacles to become successful proud Americans. Many students attribute their hard work and successes to the struggles and sacrifices that they witness their parents endure as refugees fleeing a war torn country during the Viet Nam War and as first generation immigrant Americans. The ability for students to communicate their appreciation to their parents in a way which can be best understood is a right of all students."
The U.S. has always been racist and xenophobic, but we live in some bad times, folks.