Research Activities
Reconciliation, Restitution and Healing: The Role of Vietnam Veterans in Facilitating a New Era in U.S-Vietnam Relations, 1985-2005
3rd Meeting (Group 1)
■Speaker :Prof. Michael Furmanovsky (Faculty of Intercultural Communication, Ryukoku University)
■Place :Chikokan B102 Common Research Room, Seta Campus, Ryukoku University
■Date :Oct 10, 2007
■Number :071010
Discussant: Prof. Ryugo Matsui (Ryukoku University)

Prof. Furmanovsky clarified the role played by some Vietnam veterans in transforming people's images about Vietnam War and Vietnam in the United States. He pointed out that some Vietnam veterans who aimed at “Reconciliation, Restitution and Healing” not only revisited Vietnam and gave support in the area of school and hospital construction, landmine clearance and medical assistance for those affected by Agent Orange, but also actively told their stories at high schools in the United States. It was these latter efforts which helped facilitate the interest in Vietnam and the Vietnam War among the next generation (Generation X) in the 1980s, and partly as a result he argued, thousands of young American students were motivated to choose Vietnam as place to volunteer as health providers or as English language teachers.
Prof. Matsui, firstly, asked whether the official apology about the Vietnam War at the government level had been demanded by the Vietnamese government. Prof. Furmanovsky replied that the Vietnam War was already a past story for many Vietnamese now since over half of the current population were born after the war ended. Perhaps for this reason an official apology seems not to have been demanded-- at least at the political or diplomatic level. Secondly, Prof. Matsui argued that it would be more important for the American youth to make an effort towards mutual understanding by learning the Vietnamese language, culture and history rather than only to teach English. However, Prof. Furmanovsky stressed the significance of the American youth’s selection of Vietnam as their destination among many options of foreign countries for their English teaching experiences.
The issues raised during the discussion included the relationship between the antiwar movement and veterans' activities, a comparison with the Japanese veterans' effort for reconciliation with their victims in the UK and Asia, the issue of linguistic imperialism and the social background of those veterans' whose lectures at schools in the United States played a role in changing the image of Vietnam itself for subsequent generations.