Travis Atwater and Jaime Morrill grew up in Irondequoit and are
graduating this spring with social work degrees from The College at
But their college experience has taken a global turn,
with both of them completing their schooling this semester more than
8,300 miles away in Da Nang, Vietnam, as participants in the Brockport
The program — established 15 years ago — is
unusual in several respects. It is known as the oldest program
connecting a college in the United States with Vietnam. And unlike most
college study abroad programs, Brockport's program actually has the
students work with local population.
In Vietnam, this takes on added importance because of the legacy of bloodshed left by the Vietnam War.
Atwater, 28, and Morrill, 23, are too young to have a memory of this
war that engulfed Vietnam and divided the American public over the
U.S.'s military involvement in this Southeast Asian nation.
The scars of war, however, became readily apparent when, as part of their fieldwork, they conducted their first home visit.
was a frail 25-year-old man whose father, according to Atwater, had
been exposed to Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant — linked to birth
defects, cancer and various disabilities — that was widely sprayed by
U.S military aircraft to destroy the jungle foliage that opposition
forces used for cover.
"He was like a vegetable on a bed," said Morrill during a recent long-distance interview via Skype with her and Atwater.
READ MORE: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2014/04/14/students-connect-vietnam/7682619/