Published: June 12th 2009June 9th 2009
Ruth, Johnny, Bob, and Barb arrive at the Dalat School campus climbing the long hill
The girls dorm is in the background. The track and industrial arts building on the lower campus have been replace by housing for the local community.
9 June (Tuesday) - The purpose of the trip to Vietnam was to visit our old school campus where Barb attended from 1954 to 1965, Ruth attended from 1957 to 1965, John attended from 1956 to 1965 and I attended from 1956 to 1964. This was the boarding school for missionaries kids from the Southeast Asian area. All four of us came from Thailand, and three of us graduated in 1968 when the school was located in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia (now it is in Penang). The last time I had visited the school was in 1973, when I worked in the Navy's design office in Saigon. I was fortunate to be able to bring Linda on that occasion. This time I was fortunate to bring my son, Will, whose comment was "So, this is where you went to school as a child"...typical understatement!
We arrived at 9 AM and were escorted into the reception room in the main building. We were introduced to the Director of the school and his Administration director. She had worked 8 months to obtain permission for us to visit the school. The school now teaches village, town, city, and provincial administrators. We exchanged
introductions and were offered tea and coffee. We then exchanged gifts. We received lapel pins that only the teachers and administrators of the school were allowed to wear. We gave them each a Dalat School baseball cap and pictures of Dalat when we were there. We shared some stories of what life was like for us as young children at Dalat.
The Director of Administration then escorted us on a tour of the campus, including the main building where we had our cafeteria (which was now a conference room which was set up for karaoke), the boys and girls dorms and classrooms. I asked whether they still had some of our old library books, but they didn't. We were allowed to take any pictures we wished to.
The highlight for me was a visit to a classroom where we unintentionally interrupted a class. They invited us to join them, and asked us to sing for them. After some discussion we selected a fun song we used to sing...John Jacob Hinkelheimer Smith, his name is my name too...whenever we go out the people always shout there goes John Jacb Hinkleheimer Smith...lalalala...which is repeated with increasing volume each time. They
loved it! We then asked them to sing for us. They shared a song about peace and harmony, which we agreed was our desire also. All this was happening with a picture of Ho Chi Minh on the wall. On our way out everyone wanted to shake our hands...what a special occasion.
We shared stories with our guide as we went along...which rooms were our dorm rooms, our classrooms, and what minor events happened each step. I shared the story of racing to dinner and putting my hand through the glass door, and showed her the resulting scar. Rather than trying to describe everything I am posting pictures with extensive notes explaining what you are seeing.
Before departing we visited the Director in his upstairs office; the room where I stayed as a first grader, and the room that Linda and I stayed in when we visited in 1973. We said our farewells and then departed about 11 AM.
Our next stop was Jackson Hill where we had many bonfires; and then to the Three Hills where we played Capture the Flag on Friday nights.
Then it was on to Dalat's lake and to a restaurant
Barb, Bob, Ruth and Johnny in former dining room, now a training room
The school now teaches civil administrators. The room was also set up for karaoke.
overlooking the lake. We were continuing our search for the perfect chai goia (spring roll); but our search continues. We then went to the central market to an ATM and bank to replenish our cash reserves.
Then we drove to the Sofitel Palace Hotel to get pictures and look for some higher quality T-shirts. We returned to our hotel about 2 PM to rest, and in my case to write this blog. I will have to post it later when I have access to a higher speed internet connection that allows pictures to be downloaded.
We get together again at 6PM for dinner; probably street food around the night market.
There are more photos below