Exhibit highlights LV-Vietnam link
Posted Oct. 26, 2007
?Seanette Garcia
Denise Banks came from Manhattan Beach to the University of La Verne’s Wilson Library for the first time to see June Pulcini’s exhibit Oct. 20. ULV alumna Pulcini, along with Director of Teacher Education Peggy Redman donated their photographs and memorabilia from a 1960s trip to Cambodia and Vietnam. The materials will remain on display until the end of October.

Giselle Campbell
Staff Writer

The University of La Verne’s Wilson Library hosted the opening of the “Then and Now: ULV Connections to Cambodia and Vietnam” exhibit on Oct. 20 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“Then and Now” features the art, articles, books and photos on Southeast Asia amassed by 1962 La Verne graduate June Pulcini, while working as a teacher in war-torn Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam for seven years in the International Volunteer Services.

The exhibit also draws attention to a summer 2007 trip to Vietnam and Cambodia made by Pulcini and ULV’s Program Director for Teacher Education, Peggy Redman.

While in Cambodia Redman signed a memorandum of understanding between the University of La Verne and Panasastra Univer­sity, making future student and teacher exchanges possible.

“The first time in Cambodia, we were kicked out (by the government). Going back this time was like completing a job,” Pulcini said.

Also held during this trip were educational workshops in Vietnam for English as a Second Language teachers, on behalf of the nonprofit organization CHEER for Vietnam, or Culture, Health, Education and Environ­mental Resources.

Doan Thi Nam-Hau, founder of CHEER and director of the teacher training program, displayed photos of the 2007 teacher workshops from her laptop on the library’s first floor.

“Most of Vietnam is still very poor,” Nam-Hau said. “Teachers can influence generations. That’s why we focus on education.”

From 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., attendees took in the various displays on the first and third levels of the library.

Guests were also invited to sample the appetizing Asian refreshments that were provided.

The “Then and Now” audience consisted of ULV graduates participating in Home­com­­ing events, professors, teachers who participated in CHEER workshops and others connected to the projects in some way.

“I’m happy to be here and learn new things,” Chheng Heat Leao, an old friend of Pulcini’s, and former Cambodian refugee, said.

Around 4 p.m. dancers from the Khmer Arts Academy performed two traditional dances. Clad in rich jewel-toned sashes and golden headpieces, the female dancers sprinkled flowers towards the audience in the first piece titled, “The Blessing Dance.”

The second performance called “The Shadow” symbolized the struggle to find a peace and balance between the past and the future.

This metaphysical struggle was relevant to the exhibit because the people of Cambodia and Vietnam still suffer from the effects of the wars all those years ago.

The teacher training programs and other services provided by CHEER for Vietnam are ways in which these countries can still be helped.

Pulcini has been offered the opportunity to archive her one-of-a-kind materials at various universities, but has turned them down.

She would prefer to establish a Southeast Asia resource center at the University of La Verne.

It was La Verne’s philosophy of service and education that has inspired Pulcini to attempt to archive the many resources at La Verne sometime in the future, much as it likely inspired her to serve as a teacher in Southeast Asia in the sixties.

So for a brief time, a valuable piece of Vietnamese, Cambod­ian and La Verne history is available for viewing at the Wilson Library.

“June is living history herself. It’s amazing that we have a teacher who was in Vietnam 42 years ago, going back and speaking on education,” Nam-Hau said.

For more information on CHEER for Vietnam, visit www.cheerforvietnam.org.

Giselle Campbell can be reached at gcampbell@ulv.edu.

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