Today we tested our flexibility and adaptability skills. The stay started out like the past two have, with a lecture. Today we learned about the history an culture of Vietnam. This lecture was really interesting and the professor was very knowledgeable. We got to have a mini fashion show of traditional Vietnamese clothing which was very interesting. I talked a lot to a Vietnamese student, Scarlet, about weddings in Vietnam and what they wear and what the traditions surrounding them are. She was just as interested to hear about traditional American weddings.
I have really enjoyed talking to the Vietnamese about differences in our culture. Last night at dinner me and another student were served before everyone else and we sat and waited for people to get their food. The Vietnamese student, Jennifer, sitting across from us asked what was wrong and why we weren’t eating. We realized it hadn’t even crossed our minds to eat before the others. Jennifer said it was silly to not eat the food when it’s hot, and at its best.
After the lecture, and language class, where we learned the numbers, we headed to our site visit. When the site visit was cancelled I admired the flexibility of my peers. No one complained, everyone was just excited to see what we would do instead. This speaks to the personality of the people who are with me on this trip and how amazing they all are.
Instead of the site visit we decided to go to the War Remnants Museum. We were warned this was going to be a tough trip. When we walked in we first explored the ground floor. There was a large exhibit showcasing protests around the world that many of us had never heard of. We discussed how learning about the Vietnam war from the U.S perspective was very different than what we saw in the museum.
As we moved up the floors of the museum, the feeling got more somber. There were pictures of U.S soldiers openly torturing Vietnamese. These were hard to look at. The hardest room was the Agent Orange room. It was heart breaking to see picture after picture of people who weren’t even alive when the chemical was sprayed, have their lives permanently damaged. The pictures of mothers with children who will never talk, or never walk because of this horrible chemical was very sad. When we exited the room I talked with my peers about how much we knew about Agent Orange before entering the room. We all admitted it was little to none… and we had all taken AP US history.
We always talk about how history has bias based on who you hear it from. But to not know anything about something that struck Vietnam so hard was depressing. It is still affecting them to this day, there were victims of Agent Orange at the museum when we were there. I think the U.S could do a better job of teaching history in general, but especially things like this. If people are uneducated about topics such as this, things like this will continue to happen. The museum was a hard experience but I am so glad we went there.
I am glad things got switched around and we got to go to the museum earlier. I think we should go as early as possible because it gave me a lot of perspective about Ho Chi Minh city and the country of Vietnam. It was a humbling experience and one of my favorite things I’ve seen so far.
Overall, it was an interesting day, and I had a lot of fun. Vietnam has exceeded every expectation so far and I am so sad the days are passing so quickly. It just makes me sure that I need to take advantage of every second and make it count!