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Research and Writing students undergoing highly intense labor

Research & Writing Classes Gain Perspective of the Vietnam War

Living like a Soldier

What would it be like to live a day in the shoes of a Vietnam soldier?

Research and Writing students at New Ulm High School recently got the answer to that question when English teacher Lucas Van Leeuwe had them carry heavy textbooks around the school building. Van Leeuwe has been doing this for years as a part of his unit on the book “The Things They Carried.”

The book details stories that highlight the horrors of the Vietnam War. To help students empathize with Vietnam soldiers and understand the pain they went through, Van Leeuwe had them simulate the weight that soldiers had to carry around every day. “I do it to help them feel the physical weight of what a soldier’s journey would be like,” Van Leeuwe said.

His students quickly found out just how painful it really was. As they dragged themselves around the school, they had a shift in perspective and began to understand the struggle of being caught up in a war. Kirra Shultz, one of the students, was asked what she thought about the experience. “It was miserable. I can’t believe they had to go through that every day.”

Every year, new students shuffle into Research and Writing class unaware of what it’s like to be in a war. Van Leeuwe continues to teach this unit so they can feel what it’s like to live in the shoes of a soldier. While the true experience could never be fully replicated, it’s an interesting way to help students gain some insight and understanding.

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