Welcome to ILR CORNELL IN VIETNAM! Follow the ILR School's students during the winter break. ILRies will be joining students from Ton Duc Thang University in Ho Chi Minh City to learn about labor relations and arbitration in Vietnam. Together they will engage in a case study that will provide a greater understanding of conflict resolution and labor in the Vietnamese context. This program is sponsored ILR's Sheinman Institute and managed by ILR's International Programs.
Thursday, February 2, 2017
Visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels
January 14, 2017
Starting at 6:30 AM, we took the public bus to get to the Cu
Chi Tunnels. 2 bus transfers, and 3 hours later we finally made it to the
tunnels. When we reached, I didn’t know what to expect, so I was surprised when
we found that Cu Chi used to be a small village. There were small huts and as
we toured around we saw the agrarian lifestyle that these villagers lived
before it was disrupted by the war.
Entering the old village
After lunch, we began touring the actual tunnel complex.
Before entering the tunnels however, there was an informational video that
talked about the war. As an American, I felt somewhat awkward watching the film
talk about how Vietnamese soldiers were given awards for killing American
soldiers and how wrong it was for America to start this war of aggression. It
is curious to see this depiction of Americans (which is not undeserved) while
in Vietnam, but at the same time be treated so warmly and kindly by the by our Vietnamese
friends—I guess this shows how far U.S.-Vietnamese relations have come since
Samir exiting a tunnel
After the video we had a chance to experience the tunnels
and see how they were inter-connected. Underground, there was a top layer about
2 meters deep that had storage rooms, the hospital, sleeping rooms, and other
functional spaces. Deeper underground were tunnels that the Vietnamese had to
hide in during bombings. This tunnel was so deep that they had to install bamboo
stalks to provide breathable air. This bamboo was camouflaged perfectly as a
rock on the surface so the tunnels remained undiscovered.
As can be seen by the pictures, the tunnels were extremely
narrow and this amazed me. I was exhausted and uncomfortable after 20 minutes
of traveling through the tunnels and that even included walking above ground! We
explored about 150 meters of the tunnels, but the full network of tunnels was
over 250 kilometers. I cannot imagine how people could remain in these tunnels
for weeks, or even days at a time!
In front of the Memorial
On our way back from the tunnel, we stopped to visit the Ben
Duoc Temple of Martyr Memorial and appreciate its beautiful architecture. We
then began the journey home and crashed in our beds after a long, but fruitful