Last May, Westminster students had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in Westminster College’s first ever travel study course to the stunning country of Vietnam with Dr. Mark Boulton, Assistant Professor of History.
“This was one of those rare opportunities that few other colleges or professions provide,” says Boulton.
To create the trip, Boulton worked with a Vietnam veterans organization from California (see some reviews of their work at http://www.vietnambattlefieldtours.com/).
Students attending the trip included:
John York ’16, Nathan Wilson ’18, Russel Woldman ’17, Johnny Lee ’18, Sam McHaney ’18, Kristin Alley ’17, Ally Wingert ’17, Alyssa Johnson ’17, Molly Dwyer ’16, Reese Leech ’17, Meredith Bolen ’16, Trenton Wieberg ’16, Mitch Weller ’18, Tyler Oberlag ’16, Ben Chesher ’18, and Brett Simon ‘17.
The travel course analyzed the causes of the United States’ military intervention in Vietnam and the impact on both American and Vietnamese societies and cultures. For 15 days, students traveled ‘in country’ with veterans of the conflict and Vietnamese guides and visited some the key locations of the United States’ most controversial war. The group also visited several locations in Vietnam including museums, battlefield sites, and typical tourist locations such as Hoi An.
The group’s itinerary included the locations listed below, and more.
- Nha Trang Beach
- Downed U.S. aircraft at the Hanoi War Museum (below)
- River cruise on the My Tho River
- The Citadel in the Imperial City of Hue – site of some of the most vicious fighting of the war during the Tet Offensive (below)
- “China Beach,” former site of Da Nang military base
- Viet Cong Tunnels
Travelling in Vietnam allowed the group to stop and embrace the people, the culture, and the stunning natural environment of an incredible country.
In addition to the travel experience, students were also able to gain three academic credit hours under History, Security Studies, or Transnational Studies.
Nathan Wilson ’18 had this to say about his experience.
What did going on this trip mean to you?
Since it was my first international experience in Asia, it mean a lot for me to immerse myself in a completely different culture. I, along with probably everyone else who went on the trip, was given a new perspective on my daily life that I know I will now always treasure. That alone made the trip worth everything to me, but all the sight-seeing and personal experiences were a nice bonus for sure.
What was your favorite memory/experience?
My favorite experience was crawling inside Cu-Chi tunnels that are located about an hour drive from Ho-Minh City. Nothing else came even close to the immersion of how the war was actually fought than literally crawling underground with my backpack trying to imagine hearing bombs drop above ground. I was able to personally connect with the tenacity of the Vietnamese opposition to the United States.
How did this trip benefit you as a lifelong learner?
I now have a new perspective on the daily actions of my life and how every day I can make an impact towards something. The trip also helped me realized that there is an abundance of knowledge out in the world that I can still learn from.