Vietnam blog 1 - 2009-09-07 05:42:02
Sept. 7, 2009

Today was our second day in Hanoi. We are filled with emotions, sights, sounds, colors, everything vivid. This was our second day in the city. We left Huntsville Friday morning and arrived in Hanoi Saturday night, flying to Atlanta, then Seoul, Korea, then Hanoi. The flight to Seoul was 14 hours long, then another 4 to Hanoi. We were somewhat beat puppies at the end. We were met by a representative of the International Institute of Education – Vietnam and taken to our hotel, the Hanoi Opera Hilton, a first-class hotel. After a good night’s sleep, a great breakfast at the hotel’s breakfast bar, we were picked up by Mark Ashwill and his wife Hang for an afternoon of seeing the town including the pottery center where Linda and I bought a few souvenirs. We also went to a nice little tavern for a beer, then on to a Japanese restaurant for a great meal. Another good night’s sleep, then picked up by another rep of the IIE-VN and taken to a writer’s workshop where we met many famous authors and poets of Vietnam. I have all their names somewhere and will figure it out later. They were very interested in my books as I was in theirs. The authors, many of whom were of my generation, were also very interested in the war, what I did in it, and wanted to tell me their experiences. I was surprised they were still so interested in the war but of course they are still here, dealing with its effects, while I have gone on to other things and haven’t had to think about it. I was reminded, however, and I must say, shaken a little by the still raw feelings many of these writers have. I shall reflect more on this. Our second venue was a meeting with book club students - high school age for the most art - at the IIE office. We talked mostly about Rocket Boys after a very well done and, quite honestly, cute slide show put together by the young Vietnamese staff. Linda and I wanted to adopt all these young, earnest students. We tried out best to encourage them to figure out what their dreams were and pursue them with all their might. Yet, our hearts were broken by them, too. They have many barriers before them to pursue education and realize their dreams. We know young American students who have the whole world almost given to them if they want it, yet they don’t take advantage of it. So, so sad. So as much as we are enjoying Hanoi and the Vietnamese people in the last couple of days, I have to say my heart is very much saddened because I wish everyone would have the good and wonderful and marvelous life I have been granted. Would that it was so. More to come…

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