Paul Cameron’s Vietnam War Experience
An Inspirational Story from Paul Cameron:
I’m a high school guidance counselor from Sainte Genevieve High School in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri. Each year I go to the Senior Language Arts classes and share my Vietnam War experience with the class to supplement their annual project which involves a young adult novel about the Vietnam War. My approach to this classroom visit is simple: be myself and teach from my guts about one of the worst experiences this country ever endured during the turmoil of the Sixties and Seventies decades.
After the students view my drawings from a sketchbook of Vietnam I maintained upon my return to my home; they are taken back to a time when being their age was a very confused and frightening time. I worked from photos and memory to capture the sense of what the young soldiers experienced during the year I was there. I add poetry, short stories, and letters written by me and other Vietnam War veterans who served in this conflict.
The responses are pretty much the same every year from the students. However, the inspiration that keeps me coming back every year and re-living this time in my life…is the expressions of compassion; the tears of understanding; and the interaction with me about a subject that their own fathers, uncles, and grandfathers never discuss with them. The experience is quite rewarding to me in that I feel as though I’m teaching the truth from personal experience of having been through this time and event they are reading about in a fictional story assignment. Teaching the truth about these times in America and seeing its affect in the students’ eyes and faces is my inspiration.
One student’s response was; “Until you came to our class and talked about what went on over there in Vietnam, I couldn’t understand why my dad would never talk about his experiences over there. You really made it easy to understand what it was like back then.”
Paul Cameron, Counselor
Sainte Genevieve High School
715 Washington Street
Sainte Genevieve, MO 63670
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