I have come to really love walking around all of these new places. While it is really scary crossing streets, it has proven to be totally worth it. Walking slows things down a little bit and allows me to see things like alleyways and side streets. I notice what's above me, I'm attentive to what's in front of me and behind me, I'm am more likely to have interactions with others and walking through a city I don't know gives me a greater sense for the city itself.
In addition to visiting Ho Chi Minh (literally, he's embalmed and in a mausoleum) and his museum, I also spent considerable time at the Temple of Literature (an institution that is almost 1,000 years old and was the first university in Vietnam) and the Hoa Lo prison (formerly a prison run by the French colonists for political prisoners and later prisoners of war). All three places were replete with information and insights into the history of Vietnam and Vietnamese culture.
Detailing the new knowledge I obtained and chronicling each little experience I had would be easy, but also quite boring. Rather, my one major takeaway for today was a salient reminder of how important it is to be open minded to others' perspectives and to remember there is always more than just one side to a story.
I especially thought about this as I walked through the halls and exhibition of Hoa Lo. I reflected on the bias with which history was taught to me during my own schooling and I thought about the American bias that history is still taught with. I was humbled and challenged to think about what the war was like and what it meant for the Vietnamese people as opposed to the way it was taught to me, from the American point of view.
As I continued to walk through the city, I contemplated my gratitude for the diverse group of students I teach and how important it is to me to have their unique perspectives in my class every day. I think about how much we can learn from one another, and how much insight can be gained by listening to one another and trying to understand others' perspectives. We may not all be able to go on trips around the world, but I know with confidence my students bring the world to my classroom.