by Global Volunteers alumnus Jim Swiderski
A garden of “Peace Lilies” next to the lake and park in central Hanoi greets my morning walk. It’s hard to capture the rush of emotions I have today as Global Volunteers prepares for our 30th service program working with children at the NBK School. I reflect on yesterday’s chat with a good friend and former Global Volunteers Team Leader Warren Williams. A retired Colonel in the US Marines, he’s now teaching Business English and English Conversation skills at the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi – another one of our community partners.
He recalled his recent visit over the Tet holiday with a retired Vietnamese Army Colonel. It turns out they faced each other in battle more than 40 years earlier. They shared a laugh over the fact that both armies believed they won the battle. They shared tears over the comrades and friends they lost on those days. They toasted their new friendship and hope for the future.
The hubris of leaders and blind patriotism on both sides brought so many years of death and destruction. But today, 4 decades later, I can write these reflections, and be interrupted only by young university students practicing their English with an American grandpa sitting on a bench with his iPhone.
The pain of those days seems lost in the mist of history that shrouds the lake this morning. I pray we never repeat such insanity. Peace Lilies celebrate the new camaraderie between nations. Let’s enjoy it, partake in it, and make it flourish.