‘I still think a large segment of our society thinks about Vietnam as a war, not a country of over 70 million people, the majority of whom have been born since the war was over. It’s a country with its own hopes, its own dreams, its own culture.’
– John Terzano, associate professor of law, Vietnam veteran and Nobel Peace Prize winner
The U.S. left Vietnam 40 years ago. John Terzano was among the first to return. He brought home a Nobel Peace Prize.
A Nobel Peace Prize hangs in the office of associate professor of law and Vietnam veteran John Terzano.
In 1980 Terzano, who served two tours with the U.S. Navy, co-founded the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) with fellow veterans, including former Marine Bobby Muller. In 1981, the two men joined two others and became the first delegation of veterans to return to Vietnam. Their diplomacy helped lift the U.S. economic embargo of Vietnam and normalize relations, and their advocacy work benefited veterans suffering the effects of exposure to the dioxin-based defoliant Agent Orange.
When the men saw up-close the ravages of landmines that remained in WSoutheast Asia, they collaborated to form the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.
Terzano, who has taught at the UD School of Law since 2013, is the director of academic success. We caught up with him this spring after he returned from Vietnam, an official guest of the government as it commemorated the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, April 30, 1975.
Why did the four of you go back to Vietnam in 1981?
When we went, we went for ourselves. We went there to get information about Agent Orange to help the guys back home. We met with the leading scientist on the issue, Dr. Tong That Tung, who happened to be Ho Chi Minh’s physician, but he had also done a lot of research on the effects of dioxin. We wanted information that would be helpful to our advocacy work back here in the States because the government’s position was that dioxin doesn’t cause any problems.
After the first day or so, we realized there was a whole other side to the war. I wouldn’t even describe Hanoi in 1981 as a Third World city. The Vietnamese people were suffering from the U.S. government’s embargo and the legacy of Agent Orange and landmines. It changed our lives.
How did the locals react to your visit?
They learned that four American GIs were visiting Hanoi from radio broadcasts. We were visiting near Christmas, and they were commemorating what was then the ninth anniversary of the Christmas bombings when the U.S. dropped more bombs on Hanoi than Germany did on England throughout the entire Second World War. We didn’t know what to expect. We were walking around the city, and people would come up to us and say, “Are you the American veterans?” And we’d say yes, and they’d say, “Welcome to Vietnam.” Their openness, their friendliness, their ability to put the war behind them was extraordinary. Certainly in 1981 it was something America had not done, and some would argue we haven’t dealt with it yet.
Did the visit help your advocacy work?
It did help, but it took a while. It took a year or two to get legislation to open the door for treatment of some of the effects but much longer than that for actual compensation. But that’s typical when dealing with issues of advocacy. VVAF was an organization devoted to addressing the causes, conduct and consequences of the war. One of the things veterans were complaining about was a skin condition known as chloracne. We advocated to the Veterans Administration to grant compensation for this skin disease. They refused. The reality is if they would have done that, it would have taken the wind out of our sails. By them refusing to do it, it gave us the voice to say the government is not doing anything.
Why did you start a clinic in Cambodia in 1991?
We had yet to get the embargo lifted with Vietnam — that happened in 1994, and we opened our first clinic there in 1995 — and we were trying to figure out how to become politically relevant again. We were coming off the first Gulf War, and no one wanted to hear from the last generation to go to war. We thought, Americans relate to humanitarian programs, so if we run humanitarian programs that can get us back to the table.
We started a clinic in Phnom Penh as a way to be involved in the region, and we did so somewhat naïvely. We had no expertise in doing this stuff other than Bobby [Muller] being a paraplegic and a couple individuals that were working for us, Ed Miles and Dave Evans, who were double amputees from the war. We had been traveling to Cambodia since the early 1980s, so we met with Prime Minister Hun Sen and asked if we could start a prosthetics clinic. Our first patients were veteran troublemakers that the government rounded up and sent to our clinic. Pissed-off veterans — that we had experience with, with or without a language barrier. After that, the people who started coming to our clinic were civilians affected by landmines. So we said maybe we can do something about this, develop a campaign.
Who did the VVAF work with on landmine issues?
A German organization, Medico International, had been working in Cambodia, and our groups hooked up with a couple other organizations. Then we met with U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and his staff, primarily Tim Rieser. Sen. Leahy said it would take a lot of years to do something, but he said he would start with a moratorium on the United States’ export and manufacture of landmines. Within a year, the resolution passed the Senate on a 100-to-nothing vote. It was pretty amazing. Long story short, we started the campaign in 1991, and in six short years we had an international treaty led by Sen. Leahy and Lloyd Axworthy [then the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada] and signed by 122 countries — and a Nobel Peace Prize.
How did Diana, Princess of Wales, help the campaign?
In 1997, she traveled to Angola with the Mines Advisory Group, one of the campaign’s partners. Princess Di visited a minefield and was pictured in the British press wearing all the protective gear. She was very critical of British policy, and the British government criticized her, saying she had no business talking about military issues. They misjudged the love of the British people for the princess, and there was such an outcry that the British government changed its policy. So when she died Aug. 31, 1997, there was a lot of press around her work on landmines. It was a convergence.
How did you hear VVAF’s efforts won a Nobel?
Bobby [Muller] got woken up in his apartment from the Nobel committee saying that we got the award. I heard it on the news. I was in law school, and I remember being in class and some of my classmates coming up and saying congratulations. This good friend who was sitting next to me said, “Why are they congratulating you?” And I said, “Oh, we got the Nobel Peace Prize today.” “What are you doing here?” she asked. “I’ve got class, and we’ve got a test next week. I’ll deal with that later.” And I didn’t go to Oslo [Norway] for the Nobel lecture. It was around finals time — priorities. Ha. I should tell that to my students: I went to finals and blew off the Nobel Peace Prize presentation.
Your Nobel is hanging on your office wall. How many others from your organization have one?
They didn’t make very many. There were well over 100 who deserved the prize, and at least they were all recognized. When the Nobel committee awarded it, they didn’t understand that there wasn’t an organization per se. We ran the international campaign. We funded it; we managed it; we staffed it. When I say we, it was primarily VVAF who took the lead and worked with other organizations to develop campaigns around the world.
Why did you return to Vietnam for the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon?
Vietnam is part of who I am, what I am. I’ve been back many times since 1981, and the government invited me to its celebration. I was happy to see old friends and colleagues and to see our 20-year-old program still doing extraordinary work on issues of the environment, landmines, education and mental health. VVAF closed up shop, but our programs still operate under The International Center, an American NGO. While I was there, we broke ground on a new Vietnamese Mine Action Center. This is a testament to the country’s commitment to working on this issue, but it also reflects Vietnam’s leadership in the world: it has its own extraordinary difficulties but has the resources and expertise to help other nations.
You obviously hold great respect for Vietnam. What’s your hope for the country?
A lot has changed, but I still think a large segment of our society thinks about Vietnam as a war, not a country of over 70 million people, the majority of whom have been born since the war was over. It’s a country with its own hopes, its own dreams, its own culture. For the day when we as a people can view it as that, that’s what I wish for.
How have your thoughts about advocacy around issues of war changed?
For so many years, Vietnam veterans bore the burden of all the negativity around the war: we were the baby killers, the village burners. The veterans bore it all, not the government policies. Now it’s different: If you criticize our policy in Afghanistan or Iraq, people jump all over you as if you’re criticizing what our service members had done. There are lessons from Vietnam we haven’t learned and need to discuss, things as basic as when do you go to war, how do you go about doing it, who serves, who doesn’t serve and what do we do in society? We don’t have the larger discussions about what it means, the sacrifices that are going to be asked of everyone, not just some small segment of our society that serves and their families that we rip apart.
What are you most proud of?
I have spent my professional life working on issues that mean a lot to me, and I’m still doing work in a country where I served so many years ago. Seeing a smile on a little child’s face when she gets a new limb is more gratifying than all the accolades from governments or institutions.
Learn more about the programs of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation: www.ic-vvaf.org
The war in Vietnam officially ended 40 years ago on April 30, 1975, but for many Vietnamese-Americans, the trauma lives on. Beginning with that day which some call “Black April,” our wounds have reopened in battles over the war’s remembrance.
It happened to me one spring afternoon more than a decade ago. My high school history teacher was asking for students who’d had family serve in the military to participate in a memorial ceremony for an alumnus who died in Vietnam. My father had been an officer in the South Vietnamese army before a bullet shredded his thigh and left him with a permanent limp. I knew what it meant to honor the memories of those who died in war, so I raised my hand. The teacher shook his head. “No, we want American military,” he said, before moving on to other students.
I was stunned. My family’s pain and loss of loved ones, the endless days at sea after fleeing Saigon, the years working menial jobs while going to night classes and studying for citizenship and college tests, the siblings left behind in re-education camps, the 200,000 comrades whose names my father would never see on the Wall in D.C., the friends and neighbors scattered with 2 million other refugees across the globe — all dismissed in a breath. Just because my father fought the same war on the same side under a different flag.
It was frightening how easily the teacher made me unwelcome in my own country by denying my place in (his) American narrative. It’s not just me, though. The dominant stories in the U.S. about the war have a similar “othering” effect on the refugee community. The diverse journeys that have transformed first- and second-generation Vietnamese-Americans from refugee to food blogger, U.S. general, filmmaker, bomb engineer or novelist are rarely represented in mainstream portrayals. When we see yammering captors forcing POWs to play Russian roulette, exotic hookers or terrified, helpless villagers, we don’t recognize ourselves. And yet many films, books and television shows tell us that’s what Vietnamese are — extras and bit actors in what should be our own drama.
There is danger in a single, dominant story, as Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns us. In an increasingly interconnected and pluralistic world, we deprive ourselves of a fuller understanding of the past and a more just vision of the future if we dismiss the voices at the margins. Whenever we are in the majority (be it racial, socioeconomical, religious, gender, sexual), we need to seek out, listen to and make space for those voices.
Let us seek the stories of African migrants and Syrian refugees. Central and South American children crossing the border. The immigrants the city of Dayton is trying to attract. The workers who do our nails or harvest our food.
Their stories could be like my family’s. Or yours.
HaQuyen Pham lives and works in New York City coordinating communication and fundraising at a nonprofit dedicated to supporting grassroots organizing for social justice. She graduated from UD with a bachelor’s degree in French and journalism and a master’s in communication. Her father was recently featured in a ThinkTV-16 documentary about some of Dayton’s Vietnamese-Americans.2 Comments
A Workbook for Parents of Offenders
BOOK BY CAY SHEA HELLERVIK ’64/
Cay Shea Hellervik ’64 has written the book on how parents and professionals can help juvenile offenders. It details a successful cognitive behavioral therapy program. After a five-year stint as director of a correctional institution program for juvenile offenders in Hennepin County, Minnesota, Hellervik discovered techniques to “help kids turn their lives around.” One study showed that 74 percent of offenders who stayed in Hellervik’s program for six months were not arrested in the year following their release. “Everyone automatically blames the parents,” Hellervik said. “The parents I worked with did so much to help their kids.” lives.”
Learning and Living with an Exceptional Boy
Book by John Durkin ’82
“If you are looking to become an intervention specialist, this is a great book to read,” said John Durkin ’82, who serves as intervention specialist at Massillon Jackson High School in Ohio. His book, Lessons from Ty, is a collection of inspirational stories he found while working with students and their parents. “The book is of basic reading level, but the message is universal,” Durkin said, noting that fellow Flyers are welcome to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.No Comments
When charged with pitching a big idea, what would a group of writers come up with? A small conference that brings laughter, tears, learning and friendship — and lasts for 15-plus years.
Developed in 2000, the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop began as a challenge from the University’s Alumni Association, said Teri Rizvi ’91, executive director of strategic communications.
“Ours was not the huge idea they were envisioning, but it has lasted,” Rizvi said. “Originally, it was going to be a one-time workshop to coincide with the Bombeck family’s gift of Erma’s papers to the University. The second time we hosted it, we laughed for three days and knew we would do it again.”
Started in 2004 with a $100,000 gift from the cousin of Marianist Brother Tom Price — the English professor and 1911 alumnus who told Bombeck those three magic words, “You can write” — the workshop’s endowment has recently picked up steam, garnering $33,000 from a spring fundraiser featuring nationally known author and performer Mary Lou Quinlan and two anonymous gifts totaling $50,000.
“Until recently, we’ve hid the light under the bushel, so to speak, about the workshop, which is crazy because it’s national in scope,” Rizvi said. “More and more, I’m seeing the potential for its long-term sustainability and growth.”
The endowment serves a two-fold purpose. First, it helps keep the workshop affordable for writers, many of whom pay their own way and whose experience runs the gamut from weekly newspaper columns and blogs to traditionally published books. Second, it ensures the long-term sustainability of a conference that supports writers — and provides an invaluable learning opportunity for students. Over the years, the workshop has attracted such household names as Dave Barry, Garrison Keillor, Phil Donahue, Nancy Cartwright, Gail Collins, Alan Zweibel, Lisa Scottoline and others.
“The Alumni Association continues to be a terrific supporter of the workshop,” Rizvi said. “Each session, they underwrite scholarships for students, allowing about 30 of them to attend for free. It’s a phenomenal gift, and it emphasizes the belief they have in the message of the workshop.”
Vicki Edwards Giambrone ’81, who served as Alumni Association president when the workshop originated and continued as a workshop volunteer and donor, said Bombeck’s influence played a crucial role.
“This project has been a labor of love for me and the UD Alumni Association since the beginning because of what Erma means to all of us,” she explained. “Erma often told the story of finding her calling at UD, so when the National Alumni Association was given the opportunity to work with the Bombeck family and create the workshop, it was a perfect match and a unique opportunity to honor someone who brought us all so much pride, laughter and joy.”No Comments
Say hallelujah — this spring, campus got Flyer’d up in a new way.
To showcase the University of Dayton, the Media Production Group partnered with student a cappella group Remedy to produce a parody of the song “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. The end result was a 3.5-minute video with catchy lyrics and campus scenes.
It was a group effort: Remedy wrote the lyrics, ArtStreet recorded the song, the Media Production Group filmed the video, and the UD community spread the message far and wide. To date, the video has more than 169,000 views, almost 2,400 likes and more than 2,300 shares on Facebook.
It was a true collaboration to share the University of Dayton story. Mike Kurtz ’90, director of media productions, his assistant Tyler Back, and two Remedy members share a behind-the-scenes look at how the video came to life.
Don’t believe us? Just watch: bit.ly/flyerdup.
1 Pick your theme. To create a parody, it’s important to consider the message you want to communicate to your audience. Kurtz, Back and Remedy wanted to show off what’s great about UD, and they ensured the message was consistent in every aspect of the video. “When we thought about where we were going to shoot, what we were going to shoot and who would be in the shot, we’re thinking about how we can best showcase the University of Dayton community,” Kurtz said.
2 Spread the word. Back utilized a social media plan, complete with research and resources, to get people involved. University and student social media accounts, including Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, were used for video teasers, promotion and recruitment for students to act as extras in the video. They also approached students on campus to ask if they would like to be involved. “We wanted to get a lot of people excited and rallied around this idea to really drive its execution,” Back said.
3 Make the music happen. When Kurtz approached Remedy with the idea, the students were already prepared with a rendition of “Uptown Funk” they’d been practicing for competitions. Junior Hannah Snow took the lead in re-creating the song lyrics with other members. “There’s no preparation when I write parodies; it just kind of comes to me,” she said. For others who want to try their hand at writing, her advice:
Have fun, use personal memories and experiences from others, make
it rhyme, and most importantly, make it enjoyable for listeners.
4 Catch it on camera. Once the song recording was finished, Kurtz and Back assessed how it would look onscreen — a representation of the UD community with the same essence as “Uptown Funk.” “We didn’t want to duplicate it shot for shot, but we wanted to create scenes that evoke the look and feel and style of the original video while still communicating our own message,” they said. They filmed in locations across campus, used a stretch golf cart instead of the limousine, and even created a rig to replicate the 360-degree gyro spin used in the original music video.
5 Have fun. Watching UD’s version, you’ll see students enjoying a sunny day on campus — but in reality, the outside temperature hovered at 30 degrees that day. Not to be put off by a late-spring cold snap, the crew forged ahead. Sophomore Holly Gyenes had never performed in a parody video, but said she had a good time despite battling the especially brisk spring air. “For it to be the production you want it to be, you have to take everything up a notch, amp up your performance and make sure your audience is having fun with you.”No Comments
Frankly, my dear, they’ll always be Flyers
Yes, Atlanta is the Georgia state capital. But it also boasts another significant — albeit unofficial — title, according to its residents.
“A lot of people here refer to Atlanta as the ‘Capital of the South,’ and I think that rings true and attracts people to move here,” says Kevin Miskewicz ’09, current leader of the Atlanta Alumni Community.
Home to nearly 1,300 UD alumni, it’s not just the warm weather and Southern charm that attract these former Flyers to migrate south.
“The weather here is great — you still see all four seasons, but the winter is a lot milder,” Miskewicz says. “I think the tremendous growth that the city has experienced in the past decade is really what draws alumni here. There are a ton of opportunities.”
According to Miskewicz, there are a few striking similarities between Atlanta residents and its UD alumni community.
“The Southern hospitality that you experience here is very similar to the community feel on UD’s campus,” Miskewicz says. “People are very friendly and open. You find yourself talking to the grocery store cashier like you’d talk to your grandma.
“Also, so many residents of Atlanta — like so many members of our alumni community — are transplants. It’s pretty rare to meet a resident who was born and raised in Atlanta. Which means you’re exposed to a wide variety of cultures and ethnicities, which offers a pretty cool living experience.”
Bringing people together is a hallmark of the Atlanta Alumni Community. Each year, the community plans an outing to an Atlanta Braves game and participates in Christmas off Campus, among other activities. In 2014, for the third straight year, the group participated in Holidays around the World at the Franklin Road Community Association, helping children decorate more than 250 Christmas cookies.
The community also recently teamed up with alumni associations from several other Ohio colleges — including Miami University, Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo — to host a networking event and minor league baseball gamewatch.
“Meeting up with other Ohio college alumni was a great success because it allowed us to pool our resources and bring more people together who have a lot in common,” Miskewicz says.
Through his involvement with the alumni community, Miskewicz is constantly reminded that there is no school like UD.
“Not every school tries as hard to stay connected with its alumni like UD,” he says. “We’re lucky that UD puts forth the effort to keep us
connected to campus and is constantly engaging us and reminding us of all the fun we had
while we were there.”
You can’t reserve the gazebo. How often, when logging onto the University’s system to schedule a meeting room, have I paused to wonder why “library lawn” or “low wall by the fountain” is not a location for me to choose, as is “LTC Forum” or “KU 310”?
Granted, I can — without reservation — walk out the door of Albert Emanuel Hall, step up onto the sidewalk and shuffle through the grass to the gazebo on the library lawn. I can personally invite my colleagues who would have clicked their nails on Formica conference tables to instead settle in the metal park benches whose rails have supported more than a century of students.
But there are ants. And wind. Sometimes it’s too warm or too cool. Anyone carrying a snack is dead-eyed by a muscle-bound sparrow nicknamed “Knuckles.”
When the magazine staff does trek out as a group, we rarely find an empty park bench awaiting us. Instead, students inhabit the beautiful spaces on campus. It is a truly beautiful campus, be it spring with mountains of jewel-headed tulips or fall with raucous color clinging everywhere. Students always snag the best spots, sharing quiet conversation or an 11th-hour cram. It would be rude for us to interrupt with talk of the zombie apocalypse and hot cafeteria trays.
Often, I prefer to be the one sitting quietly while the students talk or study or walk. In our reader surveys, alumni tell us what they want most is to connect with the student experience today. You say you want to know how their dreams are the same as yours; how what they’re studying is different from what you found in your 20-pound paper textbooks; how the words used to describe their neighborhood have transformed or remained. It is only by observing, listening and asking that we uncover gems like our summer Collaboratory interns.
The outdoors have more to offer than a meeting or observing space. When I proofread these magazine pages, I prefer to read under natural light, the sun filtered through the linden leaves outside Albert Emanuel Hall. When I’m writing a complicated piece, it helps me to look up and trace the branches on a tree, my dendritic guide to the natural order of both growing and writing. Even the bickering squirrels instruct me in the value of mounting tension and conflict when telling a story.
I am a better editor when I see the world and am surrounded by all campus has to offer. If you can’t find me at my desk, look next to the gazebo. Who knows? While eating lunch in the sunlight, I just might get an idea for an editor’s column.No Comments
This spring, Father Jim Fitz, S.M. ’68, and I carefully climbed up temporary steel stairs and entered the highest point of the Immaculate Conception Chapel just above the old choir loft.
We stood on the scaffolding and admired a vintage circular stained-glass window, uncovered during the renovation and now restored to its original beauty.
I was struck by its clarity, elegance — and undeniable symbolism. As our University adapts and changes for the future, we strongly value continuity and tradition. Those seemingly contradictory traits have always defined the Catholic, Marianist philosophy of education.
Nearly every week during the past two years, Father Jim, vice president for mission and rector, has met with the chapel renovation committee to consider every detail behind the chapel’s first complete renovation since it was constructed in 1869.
This dedicated group was guided by a vision and a set of unwavering principles.
We would preserve the historic exterior and much of the chapel’s sacred art while improving the interior to meet contemporary liturgical norms. We wanted to bring back the warm colors, wooden pews, artistic touches and the simple elegance that have defined the chapel’s identity throughout history. And we needed to add practical enhancements, such as accessible entrances and parking, restrooms, a reconciliation room, a reservation chapel for private prayer, a bride’s room and new devotional areas.
The chapel’s western façade and the towering iconic blue dome — a touchstone for generations of students, alumni, faculty and staff — have been repaired and preserved. The hand-carved woodcuts of Mary and the four evangelists from the former pulpit will be incorporated into the baptismal font. The statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary will continue to be featured in a prominent position behind the altar, flanked by the 1876 statues of St. John and St. Joseph.
Some stained-glass windows will be restored. The new ones will feature 10 medallions, each depicting an image of Mary from the Scriptures. Marianist artist Gary Marcinowski is designing and building the liturgical furnishings — the altar, ambo and presider’s chair. The overhead lighting will be reminiscent of the chapel’s first lights.
When students and faculty return to campus in August, they will enter the chapel’s bold wooden front doors into a new gathering space that reflects our deep sense of hospitality, our commitment to community.
I invite our alumni and friends, many of whom supported the renovation, to join us later this summer for worship after the chapel reopens.
Every great Catholic university needs a sacred space in the heart of its campus. This long-overdue renovation goes beyond bricks and mortar to the heart of our identity.
We are — and will always be — a community of faith.
The chapel is on schedule to be completed by the Aug. 16 grand reopening. Here’s a list of events:
• The first Mass, grand opening and rededication will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16. This is an invitation-only event, but a video will be available immediately after the service for public viewing.
• Daily midday Masses will resume Monday, Aug. 17, with start times at 12:30 p.m. each day. The public is welcome to attend.
• Faculty and staff can tour the chapel immediately following the 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19, prayer service for the new academic year.
• Sunday, Aug. 30 will be the first weekend with a full schedule of Masses. A prayerful recognition of the rededication will take place at each Mass that day, as well as receptions with the student body.
Details on the renovations are at go.udayton.edu/chapel. Read the autumn UD Magazine for a detailed look inside.No Comments
BOOK BY SYLVIA LAVEY ’78
Sylvia Lavey ’78 has written four books thus far. The first three share her personal experiences with angels; her latest takes her back to campus. A work of religious fiction, “Striving to Know” focuses on resolve, personal growth and how strong friendships can help you achieve goals. “It’s a story about four students in their first semester at college,” Lavey said. “Each faces challenges to their spiritual beliefs, and each becomes preoccupied with events and situations that take place in their lives.”No Comments