To the Editor:
It is nice that Berkeley High School teacher Rick Ayers was able to take 13 of his students to visit Vietnam. I am sure they must have learned much in meeting with children deformed by Agent Orange or visiting the former National Liberation Front official Nguyen Thi Binh.
Ayers says, “The idea that I, a high school English teacher who was a rather small light in the peace movement of 30 years ago, should be sitting having a cup of tea with Mme. Binh and a few students, seemed almost unbelievable to me.”
A student says that everyone in Vietnam “has a story of war, determination and pride.”
That is true, not only for those who fought on the communist side during the war but also those who fought on the anti-communist side, as well as those within Vietnam who actively opposed the war from both sides.
Unfortunately, many of the latter wound up in re-education camps and later fled the country by boat. Their stories also deserve to be heard and understood.
I don't know what kind of education Mr. Ayers' students have received in Vietnam, but I would hope that, in addition to meeting with high-ranking communist officials in Vietnam or victims of the U.S. bombing, his students could also meet with dissidents and former re-education camp internees from Vietnam, and read recent reports about the country by organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.