MAILED: Aug. 3, 2000
Leonard Gambrell, chair of the political science department at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, recently returned from a two-week tour of Vietnam.
Gambrell, along with his wife, son and three Vietnam War veterans, took part in the trip June 20- July 5.
"The focus of the trip was on the war revisited," Gambrell said. It was the first trip back to Vietnam since the war for veterans Elliot Light and David Rice. UW-Eau Claire alumnus and war veteran Bob Bloom was returning to Vietnam for the second time after having traveled there with Gambrell in 1997.
The group spent about four days in the area of Saigon with visits to the Mekong Delta and Can Tho, Gambrell said. They also visited My Lai, Danang and the city of Hue, which is the old imperial capital in central Vietnam.
Several days of the trip also were spent visiting the sites of old U.S. military bases including Khe Sanh, where 6,000 U.S. soldiers were based, Con Thien and Dong Ha.
While in Vietnam, Gambrell met with two of the founders of Hanoi International College, a finishing school scheduled to open in August that focuses on the teaching of English as well as international business and computer skills. The college will place particular emphasis on the training of students for international English-assessment exams.
The college is the result of collaboration between Nguyen Van Minh, director of Hanoi Technical Training School, and Nguyen Xuan Tan, vice rector of the Vietnamese American Training College. Minh and Tan have asked Gambrell to be a consultant on the project of developing the International College. Gambrell's role as consultant will include involvement in the recruitment of ESL teachers for the college.
UW-Eau Claire is helping to support Minh and Tan in their endeavor in other ways as well. Karl Markgraf, director of international education, said the university has sent them some materials and plans to organize a larger shipment of textbooks in the future.
Gambrell said one of his goals is to find ways to support the development of this college. "I feel we owe this country something in terms of help and assistance," he said.
Gambrell also said he hopes to work with Markgraf in developing a study abroad and student exchange program in Vietnam as well as a student tour for the upcoming academic year to be led by him during Winterim or the following summer.
Gambrell believes it is important to expand student opportunities to study in developing countries such as Vietnam, and Markgraf shares this opinion. "UW-Eau Claire has an extraordinarily good study abroad program with a wide range of sites in the developed world," Markgraf said. "Our students are increasingly interested in studying in other regions of the world, and the developing world offers challenges, rewards and learning opportunities that are unavailable in the more traditional study abroad venues."
The tragic history of Vietnam, along with U.S. involvement in the country, makes it a compelling place to study, Markgraf added. Gambrell has studied Vietnam extensively over the past years. He has taught a summer course on the Vietnam War with history professor Stephen Gosch since 1983.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Aug. 4, 2000