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Nan Chiau High School Global Classroom

Humanities Learning Journey: Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh 2015 - Day 4 and 5

Day 4: Situated just southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, the Can Gio Mangrove is a lush and protected national park with UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status. After putting on our rubber boots, we were all ready to walk into the mangrove mud flat to begin our very first mangrove planting experience! Our feet sank deeply into the soft mud and it was no easy feat to move from one spot to another. It was a test of determination and we give our utmost respect to the farmers who have helped out with the replanting of the mangroves after the Vietnam War. Some of us were covered with mud but it was an enriching experience for all of us! We are honoured to be given the opportunity to contribute to the sustainability of the Green Lungs of Mother Earth. At the end of the mangrove planting, we were given a certificate of participation for our active role for our green effort.

We visited the Can Gio Island, which is also known as the Monkey Island. It consists of 80,000 hectares of mangroves and water coconut forests. During the Vietnam War, this area was badly deforested by Agent Orange, resulting in the destruction of a vast forest area and the disappearance of flora and fauna. When we reached the island, we were ‘greeted’ by many monkeys. These mischievous monkeys could be seen stealing things from the visitors. The highlight of the visit was the guerrilla war base used during the Vietnam War. We saw the resilience of the Vietnamese soldiers. Surviving with little basic necessities, it was amazing how the fighters adapted and coped with the extremely challenging conditions. We listened attentively to the heroic anecdotes of these fighters risking their lives to fight against their perceived enemies. The base camp was not simply a lesson of survival but of bravery acts that defy our imagination.

At the water puppetry theatre, we had the opportunity to interact and participate in a friendly basketball match with the Vietnamese youth. Though it was just a short match, it promoted good will between us and we were also able to make new friends on this trip. After the match, we proceeded to watch the traditional water puppetry show. It was truly an authentic experience to witness the thousand year old tradition art form. We were privileged to have the hands on experience at the end of the show, as well as the chance to interview the puppeteers. As we were intrigued with how the water puppetry show was run, many of us started to ask questions enthusiastically. What was most amazing about the show was that the puppeteers were behind the screen, yet they were able to skilfully coordinate their intricate movements, bringing the puppets to life.

On Day 5, we visited the Mekong Delta, which flows through 6 countries and is the 8th longest river in the world. We cruised along the Mekong River and had a glimpse of the floating wholesale market and the friendly villagers. We also got to see the cottage industry, where candies, pop rice and handicrafts were made. Despite the advancement in technology today, all of these were produced and made manually. They were able to preserve their heritage through the production of these items.

Another highlight of the day was the visit to the padi field. We were all very excited and looking forward to this as we could get to live a day in the life of a farmer! Rice cultivation is not an easy task and this had taught us a lesson of mindfulness to appreciate food and not waste it.





Humanities Learning Journey - Vietnam 2015 (Day 6)

Visiting the Cu Chi tunnel was an experience of a lifetime. The talk given by the war veteran was an eye opener as he described the complexity of the tunnels and the challenges the Viet Cong faced living in these tunnels. The QnA session was extremely unforgettable. We were in awe listening to his calm and collected responses to our questions. The experience going through the tunnel gave us a glimpse of the harsh reality that faced the soldiers who lived there under extreme conditions. We left the site with valuable knowledge and an insight about the Vietnam war only few have the rare opportunity to hear it .

The powerful images at the War Remnants Museum brought us closer to the war. Despite the fact it was from the perspective of the Communist Vietnam, the exhibits we saw were strong enough to evoke our emotion and empathy for the victims of the war. We were confronted with tough questions about the ethics of war and the various dilemmas confronting the issues of war.

At the Ben Thanh market the students were actively engaged in the geographical investigation of observing and recording the type of landuse in this lively shopper's paradise. Of course they had a great time bargaining with the shopkeepers for the things they liked. While some appeared to have a natural flare for bargaining, we had a few that failed miserably. However the idea was to allow the students a first hand experience in communicating with the locals and playing grown-ups!