From Cheri, Spanish teacher and Vietnam trip co-leader
Fighting off jet lag all day has been challenging. We started our day with a fantastic buffet breakfast (made-to-order omelettes, fresh fruits, veggies, steamed Shanghai tips, fried rice, various breads including croissant (thank you, the French nation, for leaving behind a few cultural remnants when you left Vietnam in 1954) and more yummy (French) coffee.) First we went to VAVA headquarters (Vietnam Association for the Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin) to learn about their mission. The students were very attentive and asked good questions. We saw frightening and disturbing photos of examples of birth defects, ailments, and diseases which began to manifest themselves nearly one decade after the widespread use of Agent Orange, the defoliant that Dow and Monsanto chemical reported would not affect humans. Indeed, there are now third-generation victims of Agent Orange.
Afterwards, off to meet Chuck Searcy, an American who almost single handedly initiated an organization to make Vietnam safe through the removal of explosive devices left during the Vietnam war. We heard some pretty frightening statistics. One that I remember is that the US dropped more bombs on central Vietnam during the Vietnam War than during the entire WWII and Korean War together, an equivalent of 8,000 bombs per Vietnamese today. Continue reading