Joan Baez visits UNIS during her first trip back to Vietnam in 40 years

The whole UNIS community gathered at the sports center on April 3rd to welcome Joan Baez, an inspirational peace activist from the Vietnam War (1959-1975).

Mrs. Joan Baez was warmly welcomed to Hanoi; she is a truly inspiring person that young people look up to. It is only appropriate that she has visited the United Nations International School to promote peace and standing up for one’s beliefs.

The assembly began with a traditional Vietnamese song to welcome the honored guest. Duong in grade 10 welcomed Mrs. Baez at UNIS and introduced the high-school Vietnamese students to sing their song. The emotional song touched Mrs. Baez’s heart as she appreciated the student’s effort by giving a standing ovation. Soon after the performance the students handed Mrs. Baez a bouquet of flowers as an appreciation of coming to share her stories with the UNIS community.

She then took a seat on the stage and was showered by loud applause by students and parents, she responded with heartwarming appreciation when she said:

“This is the most overwhelming audience; I wish I had an audience like that back home”.

She then began her story of when she has first arrived in Hanoi and how she spent most of her time in a bomb shelter- that now has been re-discovered at the Metropole Hanoi Hotel.  She talked about how she sang the song ‘Come by Lord, no more bombing’, and sang a few verses of the song to the audience. Loud applause of appreciation poured over Mrs. Baez as she sang.

A story about her going against the rules in Vietnam and being considered ‘a crazy woman’ was mentioned when she said: ‘They said I was dangerous, and that I was not patriotic towards the Vietnamese culture” Mrs. Baez stressed on the fact that she does not want war and she is against killing people and as Dr Barder said, she seeks peace in everything she does. She explained that her inspiration came from her parents and from the way she was raised as a child. As the assembly progressed, students from different grades asked Mrs. Baez questions.

Mrs. Baez sang short parts of songs which she sang during the war to calm down people at the bomb shelter and to bring hope. After the last question, the peace activist sang the last song ‘Stand By Me’ along with Dr. Barder, the head of school who played the guitar. Students joined in singing the song and the whole UNIS community cheered for Mrs. Baez and her bravery to stand up for her ideas.

The UNIS community feels honored to have such a great opportunity to meet such an insipiration and hopes that young people of this generation see the world through Mrs. Baez’s eyes and hopefully leave UNIS to make the planet a better place and to promote peaceful relations and problem solutions without violence.