Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Australian Teacher Organizes Vietnam War Personal History Project

Thanks to Brit Daniel Needlestone on Twitter alerting me to this incredible Australian Vietnam War class project, here is a guest post from Australian secondary school teacher Tomaz Lasic in Perth, Western Australia.

Tomaz is 39 (too young to personally remember the Vietnam War), and he migrated to Australia from the former Yugoslavia, where he experienced civil war firsthand in the early 1990's.

I particularly wanted Tomaz to write about this Australian Vietnam War personal history project because many Americans do not realize that Australians fought alongside Americans in Vietnam. Please read this guest post and share it with others.

Tomaz’s personal website is at http://human.edublogs.org and the project website is at http://weremember.wikispaces.com. Here’s Tomaz to describe this project:

"You Yankee bastard."

Who do you think would say something like that with a wry smile, slight inflection at the end, as if there was a question mark at the end of the statement, and meant it as a height of compliment during the Vietnam War?

An Australian who served in Vietnam alongside American troops. Many of them, 50,000 in fact, all between 1962 and 1973.

Of these, 520 never made it back home and 4200 were wounded in the flesh. Plus hundreds more and their families were affected in ways that we know a lot, less or still nothing much about – nearly 40 years on!

Vietnam War was the one that divided and changed our nation [Australia]. From conscription “marbles,” jungles, mines, parades and protests, to return and dismay, our veterans have borne the brunt of this change.

My class and I have decided to explore this proud, divisive and in so many ways extraordinary period in the history of our nation and the world. But rather than just reading a textbook with events, names and places, we wanted to hear real stories from real people, then start “connecting the dots.”

This will make our learning and understanding much deeper, much more real and meaningful beyond a test and a grade.

We wanted to create something unique, useful, something people can contribute to as well (and that includes you, dear reader). We have used the power of digital tools and networks to tap into the human network of stories and events extending way beyond the walls of our classroom.

The stories we are collecting are not only stories of the veterans, but those of protesters, refugees, public figures, mothers, brothers, siblings … anyone who remembers the time of the Vietnam War. Then, we put them on a map.

We are primarily interested in stories relating to experiences of Australians and/or people who either lived in or fled to Australia at the time of the war.

This is NOT to say we would not love to hear from anyone else – it will only broaden the knowledge and perspective of those working with our map.

So, if you have a story to share, please visit us at http://weremember.wikispaces.com or pass this on to people you think appropriate.

My class and I thank you.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL and the co-author of the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION. She also blogs as a National Internet Business Examiner and at Operation Support Jews in the Military and Fiction Marketing, and she is the co-host of the BlogTalkRadio show Your Military Life.

Her company Miller Mosaic LLC builds call-to-action websites that get people to say yes to your brand, book or business. Her newest project is the book/website project In Support of Our Troops.

No comments: