Lesson Objectives
Questions before viewing film
Activities after viewing film
Writing Assignment
Hold a Debate
Website Links

Lesson Objectives:
Help students understand
the history of Vietnam, both before and including the Vietnam War
- the emotional issues which affect US relations with Vietnam
- the political issues behind normalizing relations with Vietnam
- the steps towards reconciliation taken by Ambassador Peterson

Questions before viewing film:
1. Either as a discussion topic or an in-class writing assignment, ask the students what they know about Vietnam not including the war.

2. Class Discussion: Talk about the war between America and Vietnam. Have students share what they know as well as their opinions.

Questions to consider:
a. Why was the United States involved in Vietnam?
b. What impact did political issues in America have on the war in Vietnam?
c. What was the outcome of the war?
d. What was the North Vietnamese perspective on the war?

Video Clip (1:12:53): Nguyen Ngoc Hung, a soldier in the North Vietnamese Army, talks about what it was like to be a soldier, the numbers of Vietnamese lost, and efforts at reconciliation.

After Viewing:
1. Class Discussion: Reconciliation is the main theme of Pete Peterson: Assignment Hanoi and an important issue. Talk about what steps toward reconciliation took place in the film.

Key points:
a. America's search for MIAs with Vietnamese cooperation

Video Clip (1:36:35): Ambassador Peterson travels to two MIA sites.

b. Efforts to build an economic link between the two countries

Video Clip (1:25:38): The frustrations of Americans who have come to set up business in Vietnam.

c. What efforts have both countries made to reduce tensions and remove barriers?

Video Clip (1:52:00): The Vietnamese-American Peace Park is the effort of two former soldiers from each side to help heal the wounds of war.

d. What both countries have to gain from reconciliation

Video Clip (1:50:55): Ambassador Peterson testifies on Capitol Hill about the importance of reconciliation.

2. Writing assignment: Students must research and write a comparison paper on the political debate over normalizing relations with Vietnam.

3. Interviews: Students must conduct interviews and incorporate them into a writing assignment or oral report. (NOTE: A class discussion should be held to highlight the sensitive nature of the subject matter.)

a. Interview an American citizen who lived in United States during the war.
Objective: To get a first-hand account of the atmosphere, sentiment and perspective in America during and after the war.

b. Interview a person from the Vietnamese community who came to America in the late 70's or early 80's.

Video Clip (1:31:09): A Vietnamese-American gives his perspective on the current government in Vietnam.

Objective: To see what circumstances led to the person's leaving Vietnam; to see how first generation Vietnamese Americans viewed Vietnam when they left and what they think 25 years later.

c. Interview a peer who is second or third generation Vietnamese American.
Objective: To see what young Vietnamese have learned from their parents and grandparents about their history, culture and the war. What is their perspective of Vietnam?

d. Interview an American veteran of the Vietnam War.
Objective: To see what a veteran remembers about the war and how they feel today.

e. A combination of any of the above interviews for a comparison paper.

4. Hold a debate on normalizing relations between the United States and Vietnam in which students represent the divergent viewpoints researched above as well as a Vietnamese perspective.

5. History:

Have students choose a famous Dynasty, King or Hero in Vietnamese history prior to 1900 and write a report. (can be done orally with visual aids)

Objective: Students will gain and share knowledge of Vietnamese history before the "Vietnam War."

6. Politics:

a. Have students research the duties of an Ambassador of the United States.

Video Clip (1:22:42): The duties of Ambassador Peterson.

Questions to consider:
1. How is an Ambassador chosen?
2. What are the explicit duties an Ambassador has? The implicit?
3. Can an Ambassador make policy or take an independent position?

b. Have students select a country and do a report on the U.S. Ambassador to that country.

Here are some books and films that will help you learn more about contemporary Vietnam and The Vietnam War. Make sure to visit the extensive Websites provided under Links.


Chanda, Nayan. Brother Enemy:The War after the War.
New York: Collier Books, Macmillan, 1986.

Hiebert, Murray. Chasing the Tigers; A Portrait of the New Vietnam
New York: Kodansha Internatonal, 1996.

Jamieson, Neil L. Understanding Vietnam.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Kamm, Henry. Dragon Ascending
New York: Arcade Publishing, 1996.

Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam: A History.
New York: Viking Press, 1983.


Hitchhiking Vietnam, A production of Karin Muller in association with Story Street Productions.

Return with Honor, Produced and Directed by Freida Lee Mock and TerrySanders;
An Ocean release of a Playtone presentation

Regret to Inform, Produced by Barbara Sonneborn

Three Seasons, Directed and Written by Tony Bui, released by October Films

Vietnam: A Televison War (a thirteen-part series) A co-production of WGBH Boston, Central Independent Television UK and Antenne-2, France and in association with LRE Productions.

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