Forty years ago, an American military officer visiting Hanoi might have been thrown in prison. But this summer, a Wisconsin cadet from the Army's Reserve Officer Training Program spent a month in the Vietnamese capitol teaching English to her counterparts.
Nineteen year old Rachel Liskar of New Berlin traveled to Vietnam as part of the ROTC"s Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program. She says she chose Hanoi instead of one of dozens other possible assignments because her grandfather fought in Vietnam in the 1960's .
"To be able to be part of an experience where we're in the spirit of rebuilding our relationship instead of in the spirit of conflict was something that I was really excited to be able to bring home to my grandpa and share my experiences with him as well," she says.
Liskar is majoring in international studies and diplomacy at U-W Whitewater. She says the most memorable experience during her time in Hanoi was a visit to the old prisoner-of-war detention center known as the Hanoi Hilton. She visited on the same day U-S and and Vietnamese military officials were exchanging prisoner-of-war letters from their respective archives.
"To be able to tour that prison just after hearing the story of being able to move on and exchange letters between the two countries was something that was really powerful and really impacted me as a person," she says.
Liskar says most of the Vietnamese cadets she was teaching English to planned on pursuing graduate degrees in Australia.