Another colorful, wonderful day visiting Hanoi. In the morning, the International Institute of Education – Vietnam (www.iievn.org) organized a tour for Linda and me. We visited the “Hanoi Hilton,” the prison where American prisoners of war were kept during the war. Of course, it reminded us of those days when Vietnam dominated the news and I and hundreds of thousands of young Americans served in the military. Those were not good days for any of us and now it’s over and time to put those old feelings aside. I believe the Vietnamese certainly have done so. They are now looking forward, not so much back. Most of the people we meet here are so young and they know nothing of that time. We also visited the Temple of Literature, a peaceful and ancient refuge within the teeming, busy city. Built in the 11th century, it contains the wisdom of Confucius and the Well of Heavenly Clarity which we could all use. We found a couple there getting their wedding photos. Very nice. When students see us, they want to practice their English on us. Invariably, they have good language skills and they are so sweet to us. In the afternoon, we met Ms. Oanh and Ms. Linh of the IIEVN to go to the American Embassy Annex. The former director of the institute, Mark Ashwill, also came with us. Mark is the one who invited me over to Vietnam and now he and his wife Hang have become a very special friends. October Sky was shown to students and then I took questions. They all enjoyed the film quite a lot and I received some great questions. As I have done here, I encouraged them to figure out their dreams, then pursue them through education. That is what the IIE-VN is all about, to help these students discover what it is they want to do in life, then help them go to college in the USA if that is part of having that dream come true. If any of you reading this have insight on attending an American college for international students and scholarships available, please let me know and I will pass along the information. This much I know. These students are very hard working, serious about their studies, and want to have a good life. I think we as a country can make ourselves better by welcoming these very deserving students.
Tomorrow, we head to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to continue our tour.