Frontline World








Ties to Literature

Give Us Your Feedback


Problems Printing?
Related Story Images from the Video




Download RealPlayer


total length: 17:57

Clip 1 (length 5:51)
Returning home to Hue, Vietnam

Clip 2 (length 5:49)
Visiting Saigon and Vietnam's new economy

Clip 3 (length 6:17)
In Hanoi: Forgetting the past, looking ahead


Available for purchase in VHS format at ShopPBS


Image from the storyTeaching About the Vietnam War in Vietnam

Target Grade Levels:
Grades 9-12

Vietnam War (Legacy), Communism, Propaganda, Reconstruction

• The Activity
• Relevant National Standards
• Cross-Curricular Activities
• Ties to Literature

The Activity

More than a million Vietnamese and nearly 60,000 Americans lost their lives during the Vietnam War. Today, nearly two-thirds of Vietnam's population was born after the fighting took place. How does Vietnam's communist government teach this new generation about the war? What specifics can Vietnamese youth tell you about the conflict? After your class has studied the Vietnam War, pose these questions to students and give them about five minutes to write down their ideas. Then tell them that you are all going to view a video of a Vietnamese-American's return visit in 2003 to his homeland, and tell them that after watching the video, you will be asking them to compare the ideas they wrote down with what they saw in the video.

Show these clips from "Vietnam: Looking for Home."
If you have time, you might want to show the entire piece (total length: 17:26).

At 1:20 into the story
In: "Thirty-five years ago, communist troops attacked ..."
Out: "... weren't even born when the fighting happened."
Length of clip: 2:44

At 14:20 into the story
In: "This is Hanoi's elite high school ..."
Out: "Better they dance than fight."
Length of clip: 1:40

Your class learns from a Viet Cong veteran in the video that in Vietnamese schools, students are taught that Vietnam was colonized by France and America and that the Vietnamese, led by the Communist Party, rose up to evict both of these enemies and build this independent nation. Your class will also see a Vietnamese teenager who is unable to tell the interviewer anything about the Vietnam War and a group of teenagers dancing to American pop music.

Discuss these questions as a class.

  • How did student responses to the questions posed earlier compare with what they saw in the video?
  • How does the history of the Vietnam War as taught to Vietnamese students compare with what was studied in your class?
  • Who decides how history is taught?
  • Based on the video, how is Vietnam healing from the war?

Conclude the activity by having students individually write a lesson plan that would teach what they think is the most important element for the world to remember about the Vietnam War. For ideas, students can consult their text, notes from the class's study of the war, and the Links and Resources
section of the story "Vietnam: Looking for Home."

back to top

Relevant National Standards

These standards are drawn from "Content Knowledge," a compilation of content standards and benchmarks for K-12 curriculum by McRel (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning), at

United States History, Standard 27: Understands how the Cold War and conflicts in Korea and Vietnam influenced domestic and international politics

Level IV, Benchmark 2
Understands the political elements of the Vietnam War (e.g., the constitutional issues involved in the Vietnam War, the legacy of the war)
World History, Standard 44: Understands the search for community, stability and peace in an interdependent world
Level IV, Benchmark 14
Understands how specific countries have implemented social and cultural changes

back to top

Cross-Curricular Activities
Consider building on the themes of the above activity by working with colleagues in other disciplines to conduct the following activities.

Protest Violence with Painting (Art)

The Activity

Over the past 20 years, Sri Lanka has been the site of more suicide bombings than anywhere else in the world. To fight against the tendency for society to become desensitized by such violence, a group of local artists paint a colorful mural at each bombing site to serve as a memorial. Have students read the brief narrative and watch the slide show at Fighting Terror With Paint Brushes.

Ask students to consider these questions.

  • What is the key message of the art of "road painters"?
  • Who is the intended audience for this message?
  • Will such street paintings have a positive impact? Why or why not?
Next, invite students to create their own painting to protest an act of violence.


Visit the "Sri Lanka: Living With Terror" Web resources to see the slideshow, watch the full FRONTLINE/World television segment in streaming video, read a synopsis, follow the reporter's diary, or gather related links and facts:

Relevant National Standards

Visual Arts, Standard 3: Knows a range of subject matter, symbols and potential ideas in the visual arts

Level IV, Benchmark 2
Applies various subjects, symbols and ideas in one's artworks
Visual Arts, Standard 4: Understands the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
Level IV, Benchmark 1
Knows a variety of historical and cultural contexts regarding characteristics and purposes of works of art

back to top

Write About the Communist and Postcommunist Experience (English)

The Activity

Show students the story "Romania: My Old Haunts."
Before viewing the short (18 minutes long) film, explain that Romania was ruled by communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu from 1965 until his execution in 1989. In the video, students will see and hear reporter Andrei Codrescu as he takes a personal journey back to his homeland to see how Romania is faring more than a decade after the fall of communism. Have students divide a sheet of paper in half and label one side "During Communist Rule" and the other side "After Communist Rule." Ask students to take notes while they watch, listening closely and making careful observations about life in Romania, both during communist rule and afterward. After viewing the piece, have the class discuss what they observed, then have students use their notes as a content source for writing a poem, drawing a political cartoon, creating a travel brochure or writing a comparison/contrast essay.


Visit the "Romania: My Old Haunts" Web resources to see the story in streaming video, read a synopsis of the story or interview with the reporter, or gather related links and facts:

A transcript of the story is also available:

Relevant National Standards

Language Arts, Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

back to top

Write an Editorial on the Wall Being Built to Separate Jews and Arabs in Israel (English)

The Activity

Ask students the purpose of building fences and walls. Begin the class discussion with backyard fences and walls, then move to those found throughout the community. And finally, discuss the purposes of large-scale political walls, for example, the Berlin Wall and the Great Wall of China. Are walls and fences to keep things out? to keep things in? both? What would happen if no fences or walls were put up in each of the circumstances discussed? On a blackboard or marker board that is visible to everyone, list some of the issues raised during the class discussion.

Next, break students into seven groups and assign each group a different section of the Web-exclusive story "Israel: Tracing Borders"
Have all the groups read the introduction to the story, then have them read their assigned section. As they read, students should take notes on the purpose of Israel's Seam Line Project and on social, political and economic issues that the building of the wall raises. How do these issues compare with the list of issues made earlier?

Ask students to write a newspaper editorial that seeks to persuade readers either that the Seam Line Project will help ease tensions between Jews and Arabs or that the project will intensify these tensions. Editorials should be based on what students believe after learning and thinking about the issue, and should include specific evidence drawn from "Israel: Tracing Borders" to make the case.

Relevant National Standards

Language Arts, Standard 7: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts

Levels III and IV, Benchmark 1
Uses reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of informational texts

Levels III and IV, Benchmark 2 Knows the defining characteristics of a variety of informational texts

back to top