Skip to main content

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

Day 1. December 28
-Meet at AU and travel to Dulles International together

Day 2. December 29
-Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City (HCM), Vietnam at night
-Check into hotel

Day 3. December 30
-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
-Visit the War Remnants Museum
Day 4. December 31
-Walk to Tu Du Hospital (aka Tu Du Peace Village)
-Meet with hospital staff as well as VAVA director (Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin)
-Visit students and faculty at Ton Duc Thang University
-Tour the university

Day 5. January 01
-Drive to Cu Chi, near the Cambodian border
-Visit Cu Chi Tunnels, where the Viet Cong dug tunnels to hide from American bombings. See legacies of both Agent Orange and UXO.
-Visit Cao Dai temple

Day 6. January 02
-Vietnamese Art Museum, modern art section and with many works inspired by the war
-Walked around Cathedral, Tan Dinh Market, and waterfront
-Walk to old CIA building from the fall of Saigon. Opera House, and Ho Chi Minh City Hall

Day 7. January 03
-Arrive in Da Nang
-Visit with Karl Tilgner from CDM Smith at USAID's Da Nang Airport Dioxin Remediation Site

Day 8. January 04
-Visit to Champa Ruins at My Son, famous site of a big battle between US and VC troops that destroyed many ancient Champa temples
Day 9. January 05
-Visit Lady Buddha Temple
-Visit Hoi An Market

Day 10. January 06
-Drive to Hue
-Arrive in Hue in the afternoon
-Walk to Hue Citadel and explore the old imperial city, site of many battles that destroyed a lot of the buildings, which are now being rebuilt.
-Explore Hue City

Day 11. January 07
-Breakfast on bus to Quang Tri Province
-Visit active site of Project RENEW Survey and EOD Site
-Visit the Mine Action Center and meet with Project Renew directors

Day 12. January 08
-Return to Mine Action Center to meet with Portia Stratton and Mustafa at MAG International Office nearby
-Visit MAG team in hills of the Cam Lo District west of Dong Ha
-Return to Cam Lo District and seeMAG team at work.

Day 13. January 09
-Go to train station
-Depart for Hanoi
-Daylong train ride (~12 hours)

Day 14. January 10
-Meet with US Embassy
-Visit Hoa Lo Prison Museum, where Sen. John McCain was imprisoned as a POW

Day 15
-Friendship Village
-Volunteer with Friendship Village

Day 16. January 12
-Pacific Links Foundation
-Volunteer with Foundation

Day 17. January 13
-Ha Noi sightseeing
-Depart from Hanoi International (connection…..)

Day 18. January 14
-Arrive in the US

Quick Facts

Destination: Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi, Da Nang Vietnam

Dates: December 28, 2016- January 14, 2017

Cost: $3050

Adviser: TBD

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

Cost does not include: Immunizations and visas


Meet Your Student Leaders!

Henry Duong is a senior studying Public Relations and Strategic Communications. He was a participant on the 2015-2016 Alternative Break to Vietnam.

Katherine Hughes is a junior studying International Relations and was a participant on the 2015-2016 Alternative Break to Vietnam