One year ago, we started GIEU Vietnam on May 3, It would be perfect to recall what we have accomplished with this essay by Phùng Minh Yến, the Vietnamese student from Hanoi University (from the Newsletter by Center Four Southeast Asian Studies, Winter 2011.
"I joined a dynamic group of American and Vietnamese students in the UM Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates Vietnam 2010 trip to experience Vietnamese history and culture while getting actively involved in social work. My perspective about the war comes from family elders and history class at high school but emotions about the war came up when I had the chance to visit museums and historical sites with American and Vietnamese students. On one hand, I felt sorry for what had happened during the war but on the other hand I am so happy that the post-war friendships can flourish between Vietnamese and Americans. What I really looked for after each visit is not the war facts but how people recover to build the good relationships for a better future.
I really appreciate that the GIEU program created opportunities for both U-M and Hanoi University students to bring about mutual understanding between the two nations’ young generations.
Social work was a very meaningful and important part of the trip. We rolled up our sleeves to plant trees in kindergartens in mountainous area in A Luoi and played with kids and painted a mural of their dreams in an orphanage center in Danang City. Such activities brought my friends and me closer to local people so we could understand their lives. As young people we could contribute something both physically and spiritually to the children and local people we met. I treasure wonderful memories with GIEU 2010 and hope for this program to continue annually so that more students will be able to have great experience and memories like I did."