Going home – part two
Out of my speaking engagement in Stamford several things happened.
I learned (as noted previously) you can go home again. My brother arranged for the event where I spoke, a neighbor from childhood showed up (he is now working in veteran affairs in Connecticut), a Vietnamese doctor with whom I had been emailing for two years joined in (with her memories of Old Saigon) along with local book lovers, the curious, veterans, world travelers and the like.
One guest showed me pictures of their own recent trip to Vietnam; another asked me about food, the weather and whether or not the people were “Friendly” toward Americans? Answer: General yes – very much so.
I made a new fast friend in Ed Cox, a former officer in army intelligence who served in the earliest days of the American War. Ed returned to visit in 2007, noting that “everything has changed and nothing has changed” as he recounted the hustle and bustle of an earlier Saigon with today’s lively city. Ed shared with me in a lengthy email his extraordinary recollections. While I go by hydrofoil to the port and beach town of Vung Tau and upriver to Cu Chi, Ed laughed that those were “no go” zones; occupied by the Viet Cong. He recalled the courage and hubris of the Korean special forces (particularly adept at fighting) and I laugh that the Koreans today in Vietnam are investors, manufacturers and the occasional tourist.
What I learned from all of this is that even as I teach, I keep learning and that is a good lesson.