The Vietnamese call it the American War, a name that brings to mind a Vietnam filled with pain and hatred for the country that took as many as five million Vietnamese lives forty years ago. Despite this tragic conflict with America, in every interaction during a visit to Vietnam, I was amazed at their kindness and at the hope and resiliency I observed.
We trekked through the spectacular beauty of the mountains and village markets of Ha Giang Province in far northern Vietnam that only recently was opened to foreigners. The compassion and openness shown toward us, virtual strangers in their isolated world, overwhelmed us all.
The amazing capacity of the Vietnamese people to forgive and move on has implications for other regions of the world engaged in conflict. In addition to Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, South Africa, and even Japan and Germany prove that navigating the aftermath of conflict, while difficult and complicated, is possible and yields positive outcomes. These examples offer hope to regions currently engaged in what may seem to be insurmountable conflict.
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