North High School students choreographed and performed a “Dance of the Ho Chi Minh Trail,” with their own musical accompaniment, to express a cultural understanding of the Vietnam War. Students in African Asian World classes have been reading primary and secondary source accounts of the Vietnam War from multi-cultural perspectives. Included in those readings was an article on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which allowed students to see how the trail was viewed during the War, and how it is re-envisioned today. Using the reading as inspiration, students then created fictional characters who wrote “letters home” from the Trail. From these letters, small groups worked together to create story lines, which were then turned into dance. Students also learned about the music of Southeast Asia and were taught how to play Cambodian folk songs on recorders and wooden xylophones. The musical ensemble then accompanied the dancers as they expressed their understanding of the Vietnam War through the “Dance of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.” The musicians also composed spoken-word pieces, which were artful compositions of lines and words from primary source accounts of the trail. This project was linked to a historical and cultural presentation by the Hmong Leadership Council's cultural Performers.
Teachers involved were Sylvia Nicora and Maria Jesinski, both African Asian World teachers at North High, and Matthew Miller, ELL teacher and Hmong Leadership Council Advisor The musical components of the lesson were taught by Jan Anderson, a retired music teacher from Elementary School for the Arts and Academics (ESAA), and by Jennie Andreason, a Sheboygan resident who teaches music in Port Washington. Additional inspiration and guidance came from the Maryland Dance Exchange, sponsored by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.