Starting in the fall of 2011, students from Virginia Commonwealth University located in Richmond, Virginia were inspired to start a student chapter of Legacies of War on their campus. The student chapter is focused on advocating for the proper clearance of cluster bombs (UXO) left after Vietnam War era bombings in Laos through the use of youth awareness, student campaigning, and education. Over the course of a couple months, the group has accomplished presenting at a volunteering opportunities fair, set up a network between non-profit student organizations, and achieved the student participant base of over 50 members. VCU’s chapter of Legacies looks to inspire more individuals to take part in this step towards peace by petitioning and working alongside with Legacies of War for the appropriate clearing of UXO.
“Students can make a big difference when it comes to service or social change that affects the United States and other nations. By advocating and acting through the university with Legacies of War, we are reaching the minds of interested young individuals who want to learn more about the world as well as be involved with what it has to offer.” Aleena Inthaly
“Not many people know about the problem Laos, which is why this student chapter is extremely important to me. It allows students to evaluate cause and effect and history that is not spoken of often.” student member, Azam Malik
Check out this video that the students made for The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders “What’s Your Story?” Video Challenge.
Why be part of this organization?
“Young people have a great amount of influence on policy and social justice. If a large group of young people come together to voice their concerns, there tends to be someone to listen. We want officials to see us as a new voice of young Lao people who are willing to take chances for the mental and physical healing of our people” student member Ashley Chan
How does Legacies of War affect you?
“Being a fellow asian, especially part Laotian, I hate that people are still being affected by bombs from all the way during the war time and its still going off and killing people – innocent lives that don’t have anything to do with – that they’re just trying to live just like my brother and sister. I would be so upset if they just got killed just because someone didn’t clean up their mess.” – student member Ashley Chan
Did you know that Laos is the most bombed nation per capita?
Responses from students at VCU:
“I did not actually”
“I did not, thats pretty terrible.”
“No I didn’t know that…”
In fact, 260 million cluster bombs were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War era and an estimated 75 million cluster bombs did not detonate, scattering throughout Lao villages, rice fields, schoolyards, pastureland and forests.
What is the VCU Legacies of War Chapter about?
“Legacies of War is the only U.S. based organization that advocates for the proper clearance of unexploded ordnance left in Laos during the Vietnam War era bombings.
We are trying to kind of engage the diverse student population we have and get students of the southeast asian community to understand the problems of unexploded ordnance left in Laos.
It means a lot to me because a lot of my family lives back in Laos and everyday their lives can be in danger. ” – Aleena Inthaly, VCU Student