March 26, 2012

Legacies of the Vietnam War: Learning from Living History

Santa Barbara students in Vietnam

Hi everyone,

Just a quick update to let you know that the group is doing fantastic! The kids are great and their enthusiasm is inspiring!

Yesterday was a full day of unprecedented educational opportunities. Nick Ut and Chris Wain gave the group an exclusive conference room for an eyewitness play-by-play of the fateful napalming that burned Kim Phuc and killed many others during the Vietnam War—the kids were mesmerized. Thereafter, we went to the War Remnants Museum where students were free to discover the Vietnamese version of the history of the “American War” along with supplementary lectures. Not surprisingly, the chemical warfare exhibits were the most haunting. 

Journal writing and reflection in the park followed, and students shared the complexity of their thoughts with each other and the journalists.

In the evening, we took a lively walk through Saigon's steamy streets to visit the key sites of wartime journalism: the Rex Hotel—where the famed "5 O'clock follies" press conferences would take place, and the Continental Hotel—where The Quiet American is set. The kids were impressed with both venues.

Today we visited Trang Bang for a walk through of Kim Phuc's tragic accident. We met her family, and enjoyed a lesson in living history from both Chris Wain and Nick Ut.
Thereafter the kids went to the Cu Chi Tunnels where they had a chance to crawl through the underground labyrinth dug by the Vietcong. They were positively giddy with enthusiasm afterwards!

After exploring the Cu Chi Tunnels, the group made its way to the Mekong Delta for home stay. Please note that they will not likely have Internet service in the Delta, but will check in from Hanoi when they arrive there on Thursday.

I fly to Siem Reap tomorrow and won't be reporting further on this group, but Spencer Barr will be posting updates as Internet service allows.

Much Love,

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