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Community Engagement & Service

Ghosts of War: Post-Conflict Recovery Four Decades Later

Alt Break Vietnam

The Program:

Throughout the '60s and '70s, the United States sprayed over 19 million gallons of toxic herbicides--namely Agent Orange--over four and a half million acres of Vietnam. Over the same time period, the U.S. dropped 14 billion pounds of bombs over the country, more than twice the amount dropped across Europe and the Pacific during World War II. Four decades later, the effects of Agent Orange have become an epidemic, while on a weekly basis one of the countless bombs that didn't explode finally detonates. At the same time, the U.S. and Vietnam have developed a strong economic relationship, which includes several proposals of free trade between the two nations. Still, we fail to fully acknowledge our wrongdoings and help the Vietnamese clean up the mess we left behind. This Alt Break seeks to work with nonprofits, from both the U.S. and Vietnam, specifically Volunteers for Peace, Veterans for Peace Vietnam, and Project RENEW, to explore what can be done to clean up the mess we left behind, while exploring the modern state of the U.S.-Vietnam relationship. We will meet with many who have been personally affected by a war that they weren't even alive during. We will work with various groups and meet with government officials from both countries, including the U.S. Consulate and Vietnamese Ministry of Health, to talk about how the U.S. can finally acknowledge the mess we left behind and help provide the resources these NGOs and the people of Vietnam need to clean up their country. 

Tentative Itinerary

Wednesday, December 27

Meet at AU to leave for Dulles

Check-in & Security

Departure Dulles on morning flight
 

Thursday, December 28

Flight

Arrive in HCMC

Take Bus to Hotel & Check-in
 

Friday, December 29

Breakfast (at hotel)

Tu Du Peace Village Hospital Visit

Participants will visit with patients and staff at Tu Du to talk about the current climate of Agent Orange contamination.

Lunch

Meet with the US Consolate

Walk to Diamond Plaza building for meeting with U.S. Consulate Staff via the Ben Thanh Market, the Reunification Palace, the Notre Dame Basilica, and the Post Office

Meet with Consulate Staff at the American Center, discussing the State Department's take on 'War Legacy Issues' as well as being briefed on how to be safe in Vietnam by Marsha

Dinner

Reflection
 

Saturday, December 30

Breakfast (at hotel)

Ben Thah Market

Walk over to Ben Thah Market. Participants can have some free time to roam the market and shop if they would like. Walk over to Post Office and give participants time to mail postcards if they would like.

Lunch

War Remnants Museum

Participants will get a Vietnamese perspective on the atrocities that happened during the war.

Dinner

Reflection

 

Sunday, December 31

Breakfast (at hotel)

“Walking tour” of Ho Chi Minh City

Walk to old CIA building from the fall of Saigon. Opera House, Ho Chi Minh City Hall, and waterfront. Maybe go to the top of the tallest building to a sky bar to get a view of the city.

Lunch

Cultural Show

Go see a performance at the Saigon Opera House while learning about the French occupation and how that shows in the architecture of certain buildings such as the opera house.

Dinner

Reflection

New Year’s Eve Festivity
 

Monday, January 1

Breakfast (at hotel)

Get on Bus for Vung Tau

Hike Statue

Visit the Christ of Vung Tau statue, a statue similar to that of Christ the Redeemer.

Beach

Spend the New Year with some free time relaxing on a Vung Tau beach

Lunch

Take bus back to Ho Chi Minh

Dinner

Reflection
 

Tuesday, January 2

Breakfast (at hotel)

Get on Bus and leave for Cu Chi

Cu Chi Tunnels

Take a tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels, where many of the Viet Cong hid out during the war. Learn about insurgency and counterinsurgency methods during the war.

Lunch

Orphanage/ Veterans Shop

Meet with staff at Cu Chi Orphanage to talk about the impact of Agent Orange. Visit a local shop full or artisan goods made by veterans of the war.

Buddhist Temple

Cultural visit to Buddhist Temple that is very close to the Cu Chi Orphanage and Veteran shops.

Dinner

Reflection
 

Wednesday, January 3

Breakfast (at hotel)

Travel to USAID site

USAID

Meet with USAID clean up site and talk about their efforts to cleanup soil contaminated from Agent Orange, what the United States is doing to help, and what else they need to see from the US government in order to finish the project.

Lunch

Ho Chi Minh Art Museum

Modern art section and with many works inspired by the war

Grab food  at Grocery store and go to Train Station

Night Train to Da Nang
 

Thursday, January 4

Breakfast (on train)

Arrive Da Nang mid day

Check into Hotel

Lunch

Explore Da Nang

Walk around Da Nang, visit the beach, drive up to Lady Buddha (the largest statue of Lady Buddha in the world), and explore the inner city

Dinner

Reflection
 

Friday, January 5

Breakfast (at hotel)

Drive to Champa Ruins

Champa Ruins

A group of partially destroyed Hindu temples that were constructed between the 4th and 14th century AD. Many of these show signs of destruction caused by fighting during the war.

Drive to Hoi An

Lunch (in Hoi An)

Hoi An

Visit this historic ancient city of Hoi An, go to local markets and shops.

Drive back to Da Nang

Dinner

Reflection
 

Saturday, January 6

Breakfast (at hotel)

Morning van to Hue

Check into Hue hotel

Lunch

Citidel

Visit the Imperial city that used to rule Vietnam. Look at destruction caused by both the French occupation and the heavy heavy fighting that took palce in one of the most famous battles during the war.

Dinner

Reflection
 

Sunday, January 7

Breakfast

Walk around Hue

Walk around the city, visit the Dong Ba market, and many other sites. Working on seeing if we can get someone from American Veterans for Peace to meet with us at lunch.

Lunch

Drive to Dong Ha

Check into Dong Ha

Dinner

Reflection
 

Monday, January 8

Breakfast (at hotel)

Drive to meet with Project RENEW

Project RENEW

Visit active Project RENEW sites and see what goes into their day to day field work.

Lunch

MAG International

Meet with MAG International to see what their field work is like, how their progress is going in Vietnam, how their work as an international organization helps local organizations, and how they see us being able to help their efforts when we are back in DC.

Dinner

Reflection
 

Tuesday, January 9

Breakfast (at hotel)

APOPO

Meet with staff of APOPO, an intnernational organization that is training Sub Saharan Pouched Rats to detect UXOs. Talk with them about this new development, the sustainability of using rats, and how they see the growth of the use of rats in Vietnam

Lunch (probably pick up something quick at a street vendor or something)

Pick up food at a supermarket and head to train station

Train to Hanoi

Dinner (on train)

Reflection (on train)
 

Wednesday, January 10

Breakfast (on train)

Arrive in Hanoi and drive to hotel

Check into Hanoi

Hoa Lo Prison Museum

Meet with American veteran Chuck Searcy at Hoa Lo Prison, a prison where American POW’s such as Senator John McCain was held during the war.

Lunch

Ho Chi Minh body visit

Visit the Mausoleum that is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh

Free time for participants to explore Hanoi

Dinner

Reflection
 

Thursday, January 11

Breakfast (at hotel)

Drive to Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay

Go on a boat cruise through historic Ha Long Bay, one of the country's most famous tourist attractions.

Lunch (in Ha Long Bay, probably on the boat)

Drive back to Hanoi

Dinner

Reflection
 

Friday, January 12

Breakfast

Drive to SAPA

SAPA

Visit the famous rice paddies of the beautiful SAPA region. Maybe just spend a little bit of time mentioning the trafficked people that come through and from this area.

Lunch

Drive back to Hanoi

Free time for participants to relax at hotel or explore Hanoi

Dinner

Reflection
 

Saturday, January 13

Breakfast

Veterans Visit

Meet with Tao Griffiths, an Eisenhower Fellow, a Fulbright scholar, and the country director of Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. Discuss the current climate for veterans and the problems they continue to face.

Lunch

US Embassy

Meet with US Embassy staff to discuss post-war recovery in Vietnam, what they think needs work and what they believe is working well, and how we can bring these ideas back to DC with us.

Dinner

Reflection
 

Sunday, January 14

Breakfast

Drive to airport

Check into flight

Flight from Hanoi back to the US
 

Monday, January 15

Arrive back in the US

MLK Day
 

Tuesday, January 16

Spring Semester Starts

Quick Facts

Destination: Vietnam

Dates: Winter Break, 12/27/2017-1/15/2018

Cost: $2,900

Adviser: TBD

Cost includes: Airfare, lodging, meals, ground transportation, admission fees, travel insurance, guides, and administrative fees.

Cost does not include visas and immunizations if needed.

Apply

Meet Your Student Leaders!

Britta Galanis is a senior double majoring in Public Relation/Strategic Communications and Art History. She was a participant on the 2015-2016 Alternative Break to Vietnam and is excited to lead this program in hopes that educating more people on this issue will bring it more in the public eye.

Katherine Hughes is a senior studying International Relations and was a participant on the 2015-2016 Alternative Break to Vietnam. This is her second year leading the program.