2017

Blog Post

Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom

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Angkor was the political and religious center of the Khmer Empire from 802-1432. Angkor Wat, “City which is a Temple,” was built by Suryavarman II (1113-50) as a dedication to the Hindu god Vishnu (Protector of Creation). It is the largest religious structure in the world, measuring 1,626,000 sq meters. The layout is based on a mandala (sacred design of the Hindu cosmos). Unusually among Khmer temples, Angkor Wat faces west and toward the setting sun, a symbol of death, which makes scholars surmise that it was not only a temple, but initially designed as a mausoleum for the king as well.

Blog Post

First They Killed My Father

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Loung Ung tells the heart-wrenching story of how the Khmer Rouge one day turned her privileged life upside down as they force them to leave their home in the city of Phnom Penh and wander from village to village. The Khmer Rouge eventually kill her father and mother and her sister dies from disease. She feels so guilty taking a handful of rice in the middle of the night because she is so hungry as she sees it as stealing from her family. She goes through training as a orphan soldier and then almost gets raped by a Youn soldier.

Blog Post

Getting ready for the adventure

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Just one week to go before we head to Hanoi. Last night was our orientation meeting. As part of the meeting, we discussed how we might fully capitalize on this upcoming adventure.

Halong Bay, our first destination.  Image taken from Lonely Planet, http://www.friendlyplanet.com/vacation-packages/asia/vietnam
Blog Post

Story of Vietnam

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This is a very concise but comprehensive book about the whole story of Vietnam from the founding until modern day. Without much analysis, it lays out the facts of events of how Vietnam was established. The Ly dynasty set the foundation of the traditions of Vietnam, but was quickly overtaken by China. This was a theme in Vietnam having such a strong neighbor that influenced Vietnam militarily and culturally. France made Vietnam a colony to keep up with Portugal and Spain's colonization fervor during the 1500's. France was very repressive and fomented revolution movements.

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The Things They Carried

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It is an account of a Vietnam soldier who basically carries just the essentials in his backpack as he is doing his tour of duty in Vietnam. But it is so much more. It is a commentary on life and the baggage that we carry with us (prejudices, hang-ups, fears, hurts, etc.) that affect how we deal with new situations.

I have read a lot of soldiers' accounts of their experiences in Vietnam, but I thought this was the most English-class worthy book with good writing and deeper meaning to the events being described.

Blog Post

When Heaven and Earth Changed Places

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Le Ly Hayslip's autobiography tells her story of how she went through a lot in her childhood at the hands of American soldiers and Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. She was raped and tortured and had her father and brother die due to the war. She marries a GI and moves to the States until she comes back to Vietnam to face her past. It is a chilling story of the pains of war a family goes through and the story of resilience in the midst of such horror.

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