Kim Phúc delivers inspiring symposium

World-renowned 'Napalm Girl' shares emotional story

November 3, 2017

Phan Thi Kim Phúc, a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, published author,  international speaker, and founder of a successful nonprofit visited Blake on Wednesday, October 11.  After surviving a napalm bombing on her village at the age of nine, she sustained injuries that marked the beginning of an inspirational journey through pain, faith, and forgiveness of both the Southern Vietnamese pilots that dropped the bombs and the American soldiers who orchestrated the attack.

     Today, as an advocate for peace, Phúc travels the world sharing her story with veterans, teachers, and most importantly, students. Speaking at schools across the globe, Phúc emphasizes the importance of choosing peace when faced with conflict or hate.

     She shares how she found sanctuary in her faith, praying and confronting her pain. She argues that the only way to successfully combat the painful recollections of her childhood was to embrace the very photo that made her famous and the harrowing memories that accompanied it. “If I can do it, you can too.” Phúc explained, “My story is true to that.”

     On October 11, Phúc shared her story in a compelling symposium at Northrop. Ninth graders participated in an all-day “Intellectual Milieu,” rotating through specialized learning sessions that covered topics such as chemical warfare with the Biology teachers and photography and art as a form of protest with the English and Art Departments. The Class of 2021 spent the day in active learning sessions making spring rolls with French teachers Pachao Yajcherthao and Silvana Dessi-Olive and participated in games of soccer and badminton, two of the most popular sports in Vietnam.

     After Phúc’s speech, a line of those eager to meet and thank her extended to the back of the JNA. Phúc gushed, “It made me cry!” Not only was she moved by the reaction of the students, but Phúc expressed her appreciation for the faculty that made the Global Immersion Program to Vietnam possible. She says, “It really touched me. That’s why I’m here.” Of the unique learning environment at Blake, she continued to describe, “The beautiful student-teacher relationship. . . I just love the place.”

     While Phúc enjoyed the already robust learning environment at Blake, her message extends to the greater system of education across the globe.   The instilling of human morality in students is the pathway to a generation who will protect each other and choose peace. “You have to be a good person.” Phúc concluded, “That’s my idea.”

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