In this article, the author discusses his experiences teaching a class on the Vietnam War, a controversial subject that divided a nation along generational, class, and racial lines. He argues that learning takes place in the encounter of differences — where students consider perspectives, worldviews, and cultures different from their own. As a literature teacher, he claims to use writings by American soldiers and journalists, North and South Vietnamese soldiers, Vietnamese Buddhists, and ethnic American poets in order to have students reflect on the many perspectives on the war, perspectives that may challenge their preconceived notions about Vietnam, likely deriving from family, history, and cultural productions such as Hollywood films. In teaching this class, he discovered that, like his students, his views were interpolated by history, politics, and culture; to teach ethically, he had to reflect on his own subject positions as both an Asian American, who identifies with the struggle of other minorities, and a Cambodian, who must come to terms with his country’s historical tensions with Vietnam. Overall, the article demonstrates the importance of humanities teaching — where students learn, through language, creativity, and the imagination, to reflect on the experiences of other people and become responsible world citizens.

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