The 20-year war in Vietnam was a prolonged and devastating conflict. In its aftermath, South Vietnamese civilians fled from the Communist takeover on perilous boat journeys that led to the formation of diasporic communities. Others faced lengthy detention in post-war re-education camps. This unit aims to help students learn and appreciate these and other important legacies that have shaped Vietnam and the world at large.
Lesson One examines the political and economic aftermath of the Vietnam War. Students learn about the political situation following the war, Vietnamese emigrants known as the “boat people,” and post-war economic development.
Lesson Two examines the impact of warfare on human health and the natural environment. Students learn about tools of warfare, including Agent Orange and landmines, and their harmful consequences on the ecosystem as well as on generations of civilians and veterans.
Lesson Three combines a number of neglected and hidden themes in the Vietnamese war literature, including the experience of Vietnamese Amerasians and the involvement of non-U.S. soldiers who fought in Vietnam.
Lesson Four gives voice to different categories of Vietnamese who have migrated abroad in the decades following the war: Vietnamese Americans, the Montagnards, and Vietnamese brides in Korea.
Lesson Five investigates the idea of history as competing narratives. Students examine three representations of the Vietnam War—the war as depicted in American history textbooks, the war as exhibited at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, and the war as represented in an effort to build a monument to the U.S.–South Vietnam alliance by the Vietnamese-American community in Wichita, Kansas.