History professors Rick Warner and Sabrina Thomas are leading students on an immersion trip through Vietnam as part of the HIS 300 “Lessons and Legacies of War: Vietnam” class. The trip will take the group to all three sections of the country, beginning in Hanoi, then fly to Central Vietnam – Da Nang and Hoi An – and finishing the trip in Ho Chi Minh City in the South. Students thoughts are shared here.
SaVonne Bennette ’19
I really enjoyed seeing the Temple of Literature here in Vietnam. The temple honors the scholar Confucius, and is still an important location for many Vietnamese students today. Almost 1,000 years after opening, Vietnamese students continue to go to the temple to give offerings, and pray for good luck on their exams. What I got from the trip to the temple was an appreciation for the timeless traditions that the Vietnamese people hold onto. The tradition of hard work and dedication to education has not changed.
Another aspect that was really eye opening was how the Temple honors a Chinese scholar. Because much of Vietnam’s history includes being
controlled by other nations, a lot of their traditions are influenced. The stelaes, for example, are big stone slabs that contain the names of people who graduated from the school in simplified Chinese characters. I found this significant because it shows how the Vietnamese people appreciate ideas from other cultures. There may be tension between Vietnamese and Chinese people because of the Chinese occupation in Vietnam, but the Vietnamese people have embraced good ideas from other cultures to help their own people.
Water Puppet Home Performance: Jordan Hansen ’18
The totality of our visit with the Water Puppeteer was phenomenal. Beginning first with the fact that 1) the man himself, the main performer, is a seventh generation water puppeteer speaks volumes to the importance of the craft, not only to the family heritage, but also the country as a whole. It has become a popular phenomenon throughout; 2) the sense of loyalty to continue that line of work accentuates the loyalty and family-centric environment ingrained within Vietnamese culture. Upon seeing the show, I was enthralled to learn how much dedication, work, intricacy, and strategy go into it. Moreover, It is a showcase of the cultural significance and history that separates the country from many others; not only in proximity but globally. Lastly, this experience is yet another reminder that
Vietnam is truly a forgotten and overlooked gem in the world. In coming to the home of this Water Puppet legend, hearing his story, and learning about this hidden piece Vietnamese history, we are able to see the narrative of Vietnamese culture come to life. Outside of what we are conditioned to believe about this country and the people, seeing in real-time debunks many of the false stereotypes. Allowing for the true expression and beauty of the culture and country to come to fruition.