Purpose and Focus: This learning tour will offer an opportunity to engage with MCC’s local partners about the history, context, and ongoing legacy of what is called the American War (1954-1975) in Vietnam and Laos.
Laos: In Laos, participants will learn about the impact of the American bombing and unexploded ordnance (UXO) through interactions with MCC Laos office staff, local museums, and historical documents. The focus on current projects includes contemporary peacebuilding needs in Lao society, MCC’s innovative approach focusing on Interfaith Peacebuilding, Village Conflict Resolution Committees, and investing in young people.
Vietnam: The impact of Agent Orange (AO), a chemical defoliant used during the war, has ongoing direct health and genetic effects in Vietnam. The learning tour will focus on connecting with MCC partners working with people affected by Agent Orange and identifying the resulting traumas and impact.
Education: Learning tour participants will learn about the history, context, and ongoing legacy of the American War (1954-1975) in Vietnam and Laos. Participants will be better able to integrate an understanding of the impact of foreign military intervention and Western attempts to mitigate and/or repair damage caused by outside intervention. Outcome: participants demonstrate increased understanding of this conflict and how it relates/mirrors other current, ongoing conflicts.
Strengthening fundraising and support: This learning tour will also serve to engage constituents, churches and supporting communities in the ongoing work of MCC. Through new experiences and relationships, participants will better understand MCC’s work for relief, development, and peace in the name of Christ in Vietnam and Laos. Participants will become better equipped to advocate, tell stories, and support the work of MCC upon their return home. Outcome: increased commitment to MCC and donor/constituent engagement.
Advocacy: This learning tour will provide opportunities for storytelling and story listening about the ongoing effects of AO and UXO in Vietnam and Laos, and what peacebuilding strategies MCC currently implements in both contexts to address these legacies. Outcome: learning tour participants will return to North America better equipped to speak to their governments and faith communities about the need for continued support for victims of AO/UXO and for ongoing peacebuilding work in both Vietnam and Laos. Participants will also be able to speak about the long-term and inter-generational impact of war, using Vietnam and Laos as an example. This advocacy could relate to current issues such as the United States’ involvement in weapons sales, involvement in current ongoing conflicts, and strategic alliances with military powers at the expense of civilian security and human rights, etc.