I have been having a great time visiting my colleagues' classes to tell their students about the Bridging the Gap program. Today I visited Hedy Fossenkamper's CIS class and was really gratified by their positive attitude, in general, and their sincere interest in going to Vietnam as part of this program. I intended to only be in the class for 10 minutes but ended up answering questions for 20 minutes.
Most students wondered about prerequisites for the Art111 class, of which there are none. One asked if we will visit any war museums, to which I related about my touring the "Reunification Palace" in Ho Chi Minh City during a layover. I noted that I was surprised by the lack of ruins or evidence of war activity at all. You would never know the war had been there by the scenery, architecture and positive attitudes of the people.
Growing up the sixties, the war was front page news daily, and led the evening news, in fact, until my visit last May my first thought of Vietnam always was accompanied by "war". Now I have real firsthand experience to stand instead of those associations in my mind. Its amazing to consider how an idea of a place can be so strong for so long, but can be displaced by another so completely. Now when I think of Vietnam I think about the friendly smiles I saw everywhere, I think of the beauty of the blooming flowers, the flavors of the fantastic foods, the richness of the historical heritage still surviving.