Student Writings from the "Vietnam Voices" Program
Introduction and Background
On Tuesday, December 3, 1996, junior and senior students at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School in Burnt Hills, New York, filed into the auditorium for an Arts-in-Education program entitled "Vietnam Voices." Three women, the "SweetLand Storytellers," appeared quietly on a stage decorated only with a folding chair and a tape player. Over the next fifty minutes, that stage became Vietnam; and the women became people whose lives were touched by the experience which has come to be called, simply, "Vietnam."
Our students were prepared for this performance. They had viewed a video tape of clips of Hollywood's various versions of Vietnam, as well as a variety of full length videos. They heard audio tapes of the music which was so much a part of the war and read literature to complement the presentation.
In the course of our literature search, we found the "Vietnam Veteran's Home Page" on the Internet and the wealth it contains. We contacted authors and printed out stories to read from this Page, stories which were often more real to students than much of the literature published in traditional ways. We established E-mail relationships with Michael Rodriguez and Dusty. Some students have visited the Home Page and interviewed vets via E-mail.
As a follow up activity, students created the writing in this Gallery, which takes many forms: poetry, interviews, fictional stories or letters, scripts, reflections, etc. We are publishing a (hard copy) collection of all the student writing generated as part of this project. Included here is a selection of pieces, written by a full range of students, and a picture of the cover for this collection, which was drawn by one of the students in this program. They share, we believe, the power evident when people write about things which are important to them. The Arts-in-Eduation experience has made "Vietnam" important for many of our students.
You can also contact the "SweetLand Storytellers" through Sue Spivack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Almost daily, the "Vietnam Veterans Home Page" receives E-mails from students and teachers requesting information about the Vietnam War, interviews with our contributing Veterans, and permission to use the material on the VVHP in their papers and projects, from grade school through Doctorate Thesis.
The talented and creative minds of our youth are searching for the truth...they want to know what really happened and are trying to understand the Nam experience and its Warriors. They are learning the wisdom to search for knowledge from the source, from those who were there and lived through the horror of War.
We, who work on this site, thank them and the educators who guide them.
SCREENPLAY, REFLECTIONS, AND PROSE
POETRY, VOLUME ONE
POETRY, VOLUME TWO