Existing Member?

Pack Light Walk Slow Calvin: "It's a magical world out there Hobbes, ol' buddy.

Hobbes: "Let's go exploring."

Viet Nam Project Summary

USA | Tuesday, 8 November 2005 | Views [567]

Getting Past the War: Portraying the True Viet Nam

In the Spring of 2005, I was awarded an International Undergraduate Research Grant from UWL so that I could travel to Viet Nam to do research for a book I plan to write.

While participating in the
Semester at Sea study abroad program in the fall of 2002, I had an opportunity to visit Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Viet Nam for five days.  One morning, I woke up a little late and all my friends had already gone out into the city.  So instead of sitting around the ship moping, I went out on my own, and as nervous as I was, going solo for that day was the best decision I made during the entire three month trip.  As a lone American (a very tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed American I might add), I was able to really explore and meet people.

People who never would have approached a pack of tourists came over and talked to me.  "Noodle-women" smiled and let me taste their pho (a kind of soup found at the food vendors on the streets).  I met a French man who was traveling to Can Tho to study Vietnamese culture for four years.  And a 64-year-old (at the time) man named Ti (pronounced "tee") approached me with the age-old question, "You American?" and showed me around the city.  In the mere three hours we were together, this man taught me an important lesson which inspired this solo project and buried Viet Nam in my heart for good.  He showed me that the Vietnamese do not dwell in the memory of war as Americans believe they do.  Before he left me, he took my hand, smiled in a grandfatherly way, and said, "The Vietnamese understand -- You did not do bad things."

Have you ever tried searching "
Vietnam" on the Internet?  You'll come up with thousands of hits, but the vast (and I mean vast) majority of those will be about the War.  Have you ever tried looking in the bookstore for a book about Viet Nam's history or culture?  If you have, you were probably sadly disappointed with the lack of selection as I was, most of the books being, of course, about the War.  If you haven't, then ask yourself, "Why not?"  Might that be a reflection of our priorities, educational as well as cultural, as a country?

The general idea of the book is to provide the reader with an accurate picture of Vietnamese life and culture as it is today, not the wartime images of 30 years agoUnfortunately, students are only taught in school what is pertinent to American history, and this means students only learn about the Vietnam War.  But this little country has so much more to offer than a mere 20 year time frame from the 50's to the mid-70's. 

Through essays, poetry and photography, I will show a dynamic People, always dealing with the challenges of poverty yet content and happy, always working hard for a hopeful future yet willing to take time out of their day to show a silly American girl around their beautiful city.

Tags: the planning phase, vietnam

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.



Travel Answers about USA

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.