New Study Abroad Program Examines Aftermath of Vietnam War

Posted: September 30, 2010 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: September 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm

By Catherine Ferraro

There are few events in history that have had as profound an effect on society and culture as the Vietnam War. When the war ended in 1975 after nearly 20 years, tensions ran high in the United States and abroad. Inevitably, differing opinions and perspectives emerged throughout the years, much of which can be seen in literature written about the conflict.

Students who enroll in the new winter break study abroad program (Dec. 28 through Jan. 12, 2011) will explore the living history of the Vietnam War through the literature of American and Vietnamese authors in the Asian country.

The program is led by Wayne Karlin, an American author, editor and teacher. As a veteran of the Vietnam War, Karlin has written and edited numerous books about the aftermath of war, as well as other subjects. Some of his works include “The Wished-For Country,” “Lost Armies” and “Wandering Souls: Journeys with the Dead and the Living in Vietnam.”

Karlin is currently a professor of languages and literature at the College of Southern Maryland. He has received five State of Maryland Individual Artist Awards in Fiction and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, among other awards.

“Literature allows a uniquely personal way of exploring a culture, society and history and reveals so much information about how a group of people define themselves,” says Karlin.

“Reading and discussing various works by American and Vietnamese authors about the Vietnam-American War and its aftermath and traveling through the landscape from which the literature came will allow students to understand the war from both sides and help them understand its lasting effects on Vietnamese culture.”

Offered through Mason’s Center for Global Education (CGE), the program is open to all undergraduate and graduate students at Mason and other public and private institutions in the United States.

Students will receive three credits for one of the following: Texts and Contexts (ENGL 202), Special Topics in Literature (ENGL 360), Study Abroad (NCLC 399 and GLOA 480) and Cross-Cultural Perspectives (HNRS 230).

During the two-week study tour, students will read “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien; “Where the Ashes Are” by Qui Duc Nguyen; and “The Stars, The Earth, The River” by Le Minh Khue.

While exploring some of the most important locations of the Vietnam War that inspired the literature, students will meet many of the authors of the works they will be reading, as well as other Vietnamese scholars and veterans, through seminars and lectures throughout the program. In addition, students will visit several popular cities, including Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon), where they will see sites such as the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum.

Other sites include Hue University and the Imperial Citadel in the city of Hue; Danang Marble Mountain in the city of Hoi An; and the Temple of Literature and the Vietnam Military History Museum in Hanoi.

They’ll even take a trip to Vietnam’s demilitarized zone (DMZ), the area around the former border between North and South Vietnam. The area saw heavy fighting during the war, and the ruins of old American military bases still exist.

The deadline to apply for the program is Oct. 8, 2010.

For more information about the program, visit the CGE website.

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