On Friday April 6th, students from EF Academy New York, as a part of a Vietnamese Literature A class, went on a trip to the Vietnam War Exhibition at the New York Historical Society Museum. It was a remarkable experience for our Vietnamese students at EF Academy New York. The Exhibition filled a 3,000-square-foot gallery with interpretive displays, digital media, artwork, artifacts, photographs, and documents. The exhibit provides an enlightening account of the causes, progression, and impact of the war. The invaluable knowledge provided by a different perspective, one from the other side of the front line, was eye-opening. Our Vietnamese students who have always been proud of their nation’s past, experienced another approach to the war, and grew a further appreciation of the history and the lessons that came with the Vietnam War between 1945-1975.
The day was rainy and chilly and the drive to the Exhibition took more than an hour into Manhattan. The first step inside museum we saw a Jeep from the Vietnam War – an iconic symbol in the war that has been mentioned into many great pieces of war poetry and art. We were warmly welcomed by Educators of the museum and were quickly divided into different groups. Each group researched a leader involved in the war, such as Ho Chi Minh, Ngo Diem, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Each group then filled out an information form from exhibition and then one-by-one presented what each had learned about the leaders. This information was all rather new because most of us have never been able to approach the war under the viewpoint of each leader. Following that, we got to learn about the military draft, which is an American lottery system to pick soldiers for the war, which is one of the many reasons why the Vietnam War was opposed by the majority of American people. Moreover, there were many well-drawn panels representing what happened in the two different countries of the war, South Vietnam and America. These panels provided us knowledge about what most American thought about the war and how the American politicians came to the decisions they made over the course of the fight. Furthermore, we were also able to learn how America reacted and thought about the moves from the Vietcong, such as the Tet Offensive and their efforts to get recognized globally. The last, but also the most touching section of the exhibition, was the one that contained the devices and the souvenirs that were left by the soldiers from both sides of the front line. It was emotional to read the letters of passed soldiers that were supposed to be sent to their beloved family.
After the trip to the museum, we went to eat at Saigonese restaurant to celebrate our National Union Day of April. Every single dish brought to us reminded all the Vietnamese students of home. The trip was a step back in time as well as a great source of historical information that gave us a more diverse perspective. It also reminded us of the Vietnamese people of our past, and the beauty of the culture which we should internally preserve.
Written by seniors Nguyen Ha and Dam Minh