You are here


A.) We all have stereotypical images of Southeast Asia, and particularly of Vietnam, which I think are reinforced by the images we see in movies and documentaries. For example, my husband and I were watching L'Indochineand one scene, in which the heroine is walking across a vast landscape of rice fields, prompted my husband to ask how much of Vietnam is arable, cultivated land. He had the impression--from movies like Platoon and Apocalypse Now--that Vietnam was primarily jungle, and that the Vietnamese lived in villages surrounded by jungle. It is true that the mountainous regions of Vietnam occupy almost 3/4 of the country, but almost all the people live in the remaining lowland areas, and cultivated land makes up 21% of total land area. Of that, 75% is in rice cultivation. So in the areas in which most Vietnamese live, the rice field is a common everyday sight while the jungle is not. But this experience with my husband convinced me that the best way to help people learn about Southeast Asia, and Vietnam in particular, is to take the images they have already and provide them with knowledge to contextualize and complicate those images. I did this in my own class at Cornell, teaching freshman about the Vietnam War, and I hope I can offer some suggestions about how you might do it with your classes.

B.) Format:

1.Lecture about the role of rice in Vietnamese culture and economy and the importance of family altars in people's religious and family life (20 minutes)

2. Lecture about impact of Vietnam War on Vietnamese society and on foreign relations of the region (10 minutes)

3. Watch film clips from documentaries (see attached list for titles and where available). We will not watch clips from any feature films, because most of the American-made feature films are too long and rated R, so I assume you could not use them in any way in your classes. (25 minutes)

4. BREAK (5 minutes)

5. Individually read over lesson plans handed out (5-10 minutes)

6. Small group discussion of lesson plans and information provided (30 minutes)

a. Are the learning goals appropriate?b. Is the information conveyed in a way students will find stimulating and challenging?c. What will and what won't work in the classroom?d. How might these plans fit with what you have taught previously on related subjects? Feel free to modify, expand, etc., the lesson plans during your discussion.

7. Whole group discussion: share critiques and suggestions from small groups (15 minutes)

8. Question and answer session: I'll answer questions about resources, information, activities which you may have.