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Letter From the Director
White House Fellows Join Nation In Celebrating the Life of John W. Gardner
President Announces New Commissioners
Colonias Domestic Study Policy Trip
2001-2002 Class Enthusiastically Embraces Community Service
WHF Alumni Visit Vietnam
Where are They Now?

WHF Alumni Visit Vietnam

Amazement, Nostalgia, Excitement, Fellowship, Inspiration, and Philanthropy all describe the recent trip to Vietnam taken by 21 White House Fellow alumni and their spouses in February.

Fellows met with high-ranking government officials, foreign investors, and factory managers who discussed the economic renaissance currently underway in Vietnam. These leaders briefed Fellows on statistics indicative of the country’s progress, including a 92% literacy rate and Vietnam’s status as the world’s third largest exporter of rice. In Ho Chi Minh City, Fellows learned that foreign investors are building Saigon South - a metropolis which, when complete, will house more than a million inhabitants, an industrial zone and duty-free port, and a 36-hole golf course.

Four alumni, John Borling (‘74-‘75), Dick Klass (‘70-‘71), Randy Jayne (‘73-‘74), and Jack LeCuyer (‘77-‘78), who served in Vietnam as members of the U.S. forces during the Vietnam War found their return particularly nostalgic. They visited historic sites implicated with the fall of Saigon, including the famous tunnel complex of Cu Chi, Marble Mountain in Danang, the Imperial City of Hue, Highway 1 through Hai Van Pass, and the Hanoi Hilton, where John Borling spent 6 and 1/2 years as a prisoner of war.

Fellows also joined the nation-wide philanthropic efforts of Kien Pham (‘85-’86), a Vietnamese refugee and former Fellow who came to America in 1977. They visited Kien’s orphanage for blind children in Ho Chi Minh City, and helped distribute presents to celebrate the Lunar New Year “Tet.” In Danang, Fellows attended a ceremony that provided rough terrain wheelchairs to double amputees, many of them former ARVN soldiers. In Hanoi, they assisted Kien in awarding 60 college scholarships and traveled to an elementary school north of Hanoi that Kien’s Vietnam Forum Foundation provided the bricks and mortar to build.

An emotional visit to the Hanoi Hilton followed, where John Borling shared personal stories on the trials and torturing of American POWs held there. A subsequent meeting with General Giap, the victor over the French at Dien Bien Phu and the Americans in the South, explained his view on the Vietnamese victory in 1975.

The Fellows’ last night in Vietnam coincided with the Lunar New Year. Each Fellow spent New Year’s Eve with a local family in Hanoi sharing a festive Vietnamese meal, presenting children with red envelopes of “lucky money,” and offering best wishes for the Year of the Horse. At midnight, they joined the celebratory throngs converging in Hanoi’s streets to witness a tremendous fireworks display.

This year’s trip to Vietnam revived a travel tradition that flourished among WHF alumni in the mid-1980s. A digital scrapbook of the trip will soon be posted on the WHF foundation website,, so that all alumni can share in what proved to be a unifying and enriching experience.

Planning for next year’s trip to South Africa is already underway. Travel will take place in late February/early March and the cost of the trip will be approximately $3,500. Keep an eye on your email accounts, snailmail, and the WHF newsletter for more details!

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