Note: As part of our Voluntour program Give Children A Choice hosted a group of young aspiring journalists from Harvard-Westlake School during Friendship Tours World Travel’s Laos Investigative Journalism Adventure. The group spent ten adventurous days in Laos immersing themselves in its culture and people, including recent cluster bomb victims and volunteering at Give Children A Choice’s preschools.

BY LEILY ARZY

April 24, 2013

Published in the Harvard Westlake Chronicle

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A young Laotian girl holds onto the wheelchair of her father, who lost both of his legs to an UXO bomb. Photo by Aimee Misaki.

Ten students who took an investigative journalism trip to Laos during spring break are making six documentaries about the impact of the Vietnam War on the Laotian people.

Visual Arts Department Head Cheri Gaulke held a story-writing workshop on Saturday with new media journalist Jeff MacIntyre, who went with them on the trip.

They intend to premiere the films in the fall and to have an event in the Feldman-Horn gallery to sell photos and raise money for the victims in Laos.

“I truly believe that this documentary will help the world know more about what we call the Secret War,” Max Cho ’15, one of the students who went to Laos, said.

“The fact that we had 15-year-old students who have the compassion for these people was very moving to me,” Gaulke said.

Many Laotians are maimed and unable to work because of the bombs still hidden in their soil.

“We felt guilty because here we are Americans, we are the people that left these bombs in your country that have now blown your legs off,” Gaulke said. “But there was no sense of animosity or anger towards us; the Laotian people are very in the moment.”

Gaulke said when they finished interviewing one victim, he asked, “Are you going to tell a rich man about me and bring some help to my family?’”

“He was shaken up and emotionally torn by the fact that he couldn’t really sustain life for his family,” Cho said. “He actually cried.”

Cho has started a club to make people aware of the hardships people face in Laos.

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