Reflection on U.S – Vietnam relation after attending a high school class

Hieu Thao, Vietnam

In the second week, I had a blast visiting Scottsbluff and getting to know more about local communities. The most impressive activity to me was the visit to Gering High School. It was so different from what I had been through during my high school time. Remarkably, there were classes that could never found in my country’s public high schools namely International Relations and Intro to Law. I think these subjects are crucial in the context of the modern world because they introduce different perspectives to global issues and equip students with basic legal knowledge. Students can make questions on any thing relating to the subject, as well as present their own opinion about an issue, which make academic lessons become much more understandable and relevant to themselves.

Especially, in one class, I had been asked, for the third time since I was in Nebraska, about the Vietnam War back to late 1960s and early 1970s. I find that many Americans I know still have special concern on this event although more than forty years have passed. This reminds me of a popular song named Hello Vietnam, which is a bout a Vietnamese girl growing up abroad, whose understanding of her homeland is only about war*.

I must say conversations like those always give me an insightful reflection on my country’s history and development process in relation to the U.S. Here people call it ‘Vietnam War’, back to where I am from it is called ‘American War’. Despite whatever it may be named or stand for, it took away relatives, friends, and teammates of both sides. It is not difficult to find a Vietnamese family, who has one member or even more lost or died during that time. Mine is not an exception either. Also, I know some U.S veterans, who used to serve in the Vietnam War now come back and forth to my country for traveling or doing business. I have heard about their loss and obsession in the war just as much as what my grandmother told me about my grandfather and other family members. Same painful story is shared by opponents in the past.

I personally believe that the best way to heal the wounds of war is to enhance dialogue and cooperation toward peace. One of the most obvious evidences of the formal normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries must be my present in the U.S within a program funded by the Department of State. This special trip does not only increase my understanding about the U.S in terms of people, culture, economy, education system, and civic engagement but also gives me a good chance to interact with other young talented fellows from ASEAN.

(*) Link: Hello Vietnam – Pham Quynh Anh

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