Peace Works Travel student travelers meet Kim Phuc

Published October 25, 2014

Peace Works Travel student travelers share how meeting Kim Phuc made their educational trip to Vietnam a life-changing experience.

(Fox News misspelling below). See the video clip here:




Kim Phuc Visits Southern California Schools

Published October 22, 2014

Kim Phuc, the Vietnam War’s iconic “napalm girl” featured in Nick Ut’s 1972 Pulitzer Prize-winning image, speaks to students of Brentwood School, Archer School, Westridge School and Polytechnic School. Students are moved by Kim’s message of loving kindness, peace, and forgiveness for a war-free world.


Kim speaks about the iconic image, the Vietnam War and her journey to forgiveness.


Kim speaks to students at Brentwood School.


Kim lets the students feel her arm where the napalm burned her 9-year-old skin in 1972.


Ms. Danjczek’s students pose with Kim.



Speaking to Brentwood Middle School students.


Claire’s introductory speech moved Kim to tears.


Kim and Brentwood students.


Brentwood Students.


Brentwood Middle school teachers and administration thank Kim for a moving speech.


Brentwood students Asian Student-Alliance host a brownbag lunch with Kim.


A Brentwood student is moved to tears.


An Archer School student studies Nick Ut’s picture while listening to Kim’s talk.



Archer School Theater teacher Reed Farley holds a photo while Kim offers students a hopeful interpretation of the iconic imagery.


Nick Ut and Kim Phuc speak to students at Westridge School.


Kim Phuc honors “Uncle Ut” for his bravery as a wartime journalist. After capturing the iconic image of Kim’s napalm strike, he rushed Kim to the hospital and saved her life.


Westridge School students grades 7-12, teachers and parents are captivated by Kim and Nick’s stories.




Do you know what happened to the girl in this iconic Pulitzer prize winning photo from the Vietnam War?

Published September 23, 2013

8 June 1972, a plane bombed the village of Trang Bang, near Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) in South Vietnam after the South Vietnamese pilot mistook a group of civilians leaving the temple for enemy troops.
The bombs contained napalm, a highly flammable fuel, which killed and badly burned the people on the ground.
The iconic black-and-white image taken of children fleeing the scene won the Pulitzer Prize and was chosen as the World Press Photo of the Year in 1972.
It communicated the horrors of the Vietnam War in a way words never could, helping to end one of the most divisive wars in American history and later becoming a symbol of the cruelty of all wars for children and civilian victims.
In the centre of the photo was a nine year old girl, who ran naked down the highway after stripping off her burning clothes.
Kim Phuc Phan Thi was with her family at the pagoda attending a religious celebration when the plane struck and lost several relatives in the attack. The children running with her were her own brothers and sisters.
I had the privilege of hearing Kim speak at a meeting in New Zealand a few years ago and the 40th anniversary of the bombing was commemorated last year.
She said, looking back, that three miracles happened on that dreadful day.
The first was that, despite suffering extensive third degree burns to her left arm, back and side, the soles of her feet were not burnt and she could run.
The second was that after she collapsed and lost consciousness the photographer, Nick Ut, took her to Barsky Hospital in Saigon.
The third was that her own mother found her there later that day whilst searching for her children.
Kim remained hospitalized for 14 months, and underwent 17 surgical procedures, until she recovered from the burns.
Grateful for the care she had received she later decided to study medicine but struggled to come to terms with her deep physical and psychological scars.
‘My heart was exactly like a black coffee cup,’ she said. ‘I wished I died in that attack with my cousin. I wish I died at that time so I won’t suffer like that anymore … it was so hard for me to carry all that burden with that hatred, with that anger and bitterness.’
But it was as a second year medical student in Saigon that she discovered a New Testament in the university library, committed her life to following Jesus Christ, and realised that God had a plan for her life.
Kim never finished medical school as the communist government of Vietnam realised the value of the ‘napalm girl’ value as a propaganda symbol.
She believed that no man could ever love her with her disfigurement but later studied in Cuba where she met Bui Huy Toan, another Vietnamese student whom she married in 1992.
Kim and Toan went on their honeymoon in Moscow. During a refuelling stop in Gander, Newfoundland, they left the plane and asked for political asylum in Canada, which was granted.
In 1994, UNESCO designated her a Goodwill Ambassador for Peace.
In 1997 she established the first Kim Phuc Foundation in the US, with the aim of providing medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war. Later, other foundations were set up, with the same name, under an umbrella organization, Kim Foundation International.
Her biography, The Girl in the Picture, written by Denise Chong was published in 1999.
In 2004, Kim spoke at the University of Connecticut about her life and experience, learning how to be ‘strong in the face of pain’ and how compassion and love helped her heal.
On 28 December 2009, National Public Radio broadcast her spoken essay, ‘The Long Road to Forgiveness’.
Kim Phuc, now 50, lives near Toronto, Canada, with her husband and two children, Thomas and Stephen.
She has dedicated her life to promoting peace and providing medical and psychological support to help children who are victims of war in Uganda, East Timor, Romania, Tajikistan, Kenya, Ghana and Afghanistan.
Forgiveness made me free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days but my heart is cleansed. Napalm is very powerful, but faith, forgiveness, and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone could learn how to live with true love, hope, and forgiveness. If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself: Can you?’ (Kim Phuc, 2008)
I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27)
Written by Dr Peter Saunders, 30 Aug 2013

Emmy-Nominated Film Features Santa Barbara Students and Teachers

Published August 8, 2013

Alethea Tyner Paradis
Peace Works Travel, a Santa Barbara based educational tour company founded by Alethea Tyner Paradis, a local teacher and Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award winner, is featured with her students in a 2013 Emmy-nominated documentary film. An ABCNews-produced documentary, Power of a Picture, was filmed in Santa Barbara and Vietnam and highlights the educational value of the photo of the iconic “Napalm Girl” for today’s students, 40 years after the Vietnam War.

The photo of Kim Phuc was Life Magazine’s cover image from June 1972. Historians credit it with helping end the Vietnam War. Symbolizing what words cannot convey, the iconic image of “Napalm Girl” still instructs us about the impact of photojournalism.

The documentary, Power of a Picture, fuses historical footage and modern analysis of the accidental bombing, examining the significance of the photograph then and now.

The documentary features Santa Barbara students and teachers traveling to the site of Kim’s tragic injury in Vietnam. The group visits with Kim’s surviving family, interviews veterans, photographers and witnesses. Ultimately, students understand the war through the lens of courageous journalism.

Alethea Tyner Paradis, a history teacher, founded Peace Works Travel in 2005 to give her students an immersive educational experience lacking in mainstream youth tours. “It occurred to me and other like-minded educators that our nation hadn’t learned many important lessons from our controversial military adventures in SE Asia.” Recognizing a need for meaningful experiential education about the legacy of warfare, Tyner Paradis developed an integrative program that invites students to understand war—and the benefits of negotiated peace—from the perspective of people who live with its aftermath.

For several years Tyner Paradis has taken her students to visit and befriend Kim’s family in the city of Trang Bang. In 2012, Kim, who now lives in Canada, accepted Tyner Paradis’s invitation to share her story with Santa Barbara at the Lobero Theater to mark the 40-year anniversary of the photograph.

In addition to Vietnam, Peace Works Travel has expanded with youth tours to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Cuba and Rwanda. Tyner Paradis now directs Peace Works Travel year-round.

“By learning history’s lessons first-hand from those living with the legacy of war, students are better equipped to participate as ethical citizens of a global community.” Tyner Paradis says.

In May, Power of a Picture won the 2013 Edward R. Murrow award in regional market television broadcast.

For more information about Peace Works Travel, go to or contact Alethea Tyner Paradis at (805) 252-1990, Alethea@FriendshipToursWorld.comTo see the Emmy-nominated documentary Power of a Picture go to: (26 mins)An excerpt of the film is also available at and from the Peace Works Travel website,

Santa Barbara Schools – Peace Village

Published March 29, 2013

By Pierce

After an interesting bonding experience searching for paint, our troops headed to the Thanh Xuan Peace

Village in the heart of Hanoi. Opened in 1991, this village serves as an orphanage and boarding school for people from infant ages to adulthood that live with the mental and physical disabilities as a result of Agent Orange.  Students have classes and learn vocational skills while living with others that suffer from similar disabilities.

We joined forces with some esteemed students of Hanoi University. After chewing the fat for a few, we
began singing Vietnamese songs, playing with balloons, and completely repainting a previously algae-infested wall. We then enjoyed a traditional Vietnamese pork lunch sandwich before touring the gorgeous Hanoi University campus. One round of coconut boba and a transient stay in egregiously small and dangerously wobbly chairs, we ended our visit with our home slices (needless to mention Beatrice made quite the posse). On the real doe, I could never fabricated not only the overwhelming joy and laughter those kids had, but also the feeling that their joy reflected onto me. The time that I spent with those remarkable kids were worth the trip around
the world. In the tempest of our times we are often so preoccupied with pent-up stress and meticulously scheduled lives that we hardly take the time to stop and really appreciate what we have.  The children at the peace village were the most happy, full of life, and thankful people I have ever seen despite their disabilities. Their passion for life is truly inspirational and a testament to not only their strength, but the resiliency and fortitude of the Vietnamese people.

War Photography for Peace

Published June 7, 2012

Nick Ut photographed by Tim Mantoani

In May a small group of Santa Barbara high school students gathered in Hope Ranch over nems and Vietnamese curry to reflect on their March tour through Vietnam. Their trip had been extraordinary. Armed with cameras and critical minds, these students revisited the site of the Vietnam War’s famous photograph of Kim Phuc (the “Girl in the Picture”) with the very man who captured it: AP photographer Nick Ut. The photo depicts a naked 9-year old girl as she runs down Route One screaming, her body ablaze from a napalm attack. The picture won Nick Ut the Pulitzer Prize, made the cover of Life Magazine and shocked the world by exposing the horrific human cost of war. While in Saigon, ABC journalists David Ono and Jeff MacIntyre met up with Nick and PWT students to document Nick as they relived the events of that fateful day, visiting Kim’s family home, the Coadai Temple and the infamous Route One, where Kim and Nick first met.
Now comfortably assembled in a living room in central California, Nick retold his story and discussed his relationship with photography. Nick recalled the moment of the photograph. Kim was running down Route One away from the firebomb. Here clothes were completely burned off and she was calling out for water. As Kim approached him, Nick put aside his camera, got her water, then rushed her to the hospital. He was worried she would die at any moment and it wasn’t until he had secured her medical attention that he returned to Saigon to develop his film. Nick risked missing his deadline to save Kim’s life and continued to check on her while she was in the hospital. Today, Nick’s relationship with Kim is stronger than ever. “We are like family,” he explained, “I call her every week.”
But why should we care about photojournalism or Nick’s story? Can a picture really galvanize people into peace? For Nick the most important part of his photography is the human aspect, and it’s his ability to empathize with his subjects that makes his photos so powerful. Tomorrow (Friday, June 8th) will mark the 40th anniversary of Nick Ut’s Pulitzer Prize-winning image.  The photo defined the Vietnam War and is still used today to stop the use of Napalm, which is now illegal in most countries, including the United States. As Nick Ut has proven, a camera can be a far more powerful weapon than bullets or bombs. Rather than continuing down a path of senseless destruction, photos have the ability to positively transform the world and stop this trajectory of violence. 
The story of Nick and Kim is not one of war, but one of peace. As photojournalist James Nachtwey explained, “In a way, if an individual assumes the risk of placing himself in the middle of a war to communicate to the rest of the world what’s happening, he’s trying to negotiate for peace. Perhaps that’s the reason for those in charge of perpetuating the war do not like to have photographers around.” Watching young students look at these images and travel across the world to engage in these questions is perhaps the most inspiring aspect of war peace photography. Nick Ut’s image had roused young ambassadors of peace; a generation dedicated to exposing and responding to the difficult and human questions of an increasingly complex world.  

Legacies of the Vietnam War: Learning from Living History

Published March 26, 2012

Santa Barbara students in Vietnam
Hi everyone,
Just a quick update to let you know that the group is doing fantastic! The kids are great and their enthusiasm is inspiring!

Yesterday was a full day of unprecedented educational opportunities. Nick Ut and Chris Wain gave the group an exclusive conference room for an eyewitness play-by-play of the fateful napalming that burned Kim Phuc and killed many others during the Vietnam War—the kids were mesmerized. Thereafter, we went to the War Remnants Museum where students were free to discover the Vietnamese version of the history of the “American War” along with supplementary lectures. Not surprisingly, the chemical warfare exhibits were the most haunting. 

Journal writing and reflection in the park followed, and students shared the complexity of their thoughts with each other and the journalists.
In the evening, we took a lively walk through Saigon’s steamy streets to visit the key sites of wartime journalism: the Rex Hotel—where the famed “5 O’clock follies” press conferences would take place, and the Continental Hotel—where The Quiet American is set. The kids were impressed with both venues.
Today we visited Trang Bang for a walk through of Kim Phuc’s tragic accident. We met her family, and enjoyed a lesson in living history from both Chris Wain and Nick Ut.
Thereafter the kids went to the Cu Chi Tunnels where they had a chance to crawl through the underground labyrinth dug by the Vietcong. They were positively giddy with enthusiasm afterwards!
After exploring the Cu Chi Tunnels, the group made its way to the Mekong Delta for home stay. Please note that they will not likely have Internet service in the Delta, but will check in from Hanoi when they arrive there on Thursday.
I fly to Siem Reap tomorrow and won’t be reporting further on this group, but Spencer Barr will be posting updates as Internet service allows.
Much Love,

War and Tranquility: from the Cu Chi Tunnels to the Mekong Delta

Published March 2, 2012

Francis Parker School – North to South – Day Nine
Today we left the busy streets of Saigon in our rear view mirrors. We awoke early in the morning with just enough time to grab a quick breakfast before hitting the road. We drove for two hours to the small village of Trang Bang, located Northwest of Saigon. We paid a visit to the family home of Kim Phuc, known around the World as “the girl in the photograph”. Ms. Phuc’s picture was taken in 1972, when her village was napalmed and her skin caught fire. Her picture was used as propoganda by the Communist government after the war to promote anti-American sentiment and Vietmamese Nationalism. We watched a documentary about Ms. Phuc’s life and learned about her personal path to forgiviness and reconciliation. The students who went to see Ms. Phuc speak in Santa Barbara were able to follow up on their previous experience.
Ms. Phuc’s ability to forgive those responsible for her debilitating condition was surprising, but not overwhelmingly so, as it reflected the sentiments of many Vietnamese we have talked to on this trip who seem eager to be at peace about the War. Through the video, we learned that Ms. Phuc even met with the American Soldier who ordered the bombing of Trang Bang. It was eerie to sit just feet away from the scene where the notorious bombing took place. Even forty years later, the feeling of horror somehow lingered. As we left, we drove by the Cao Dai temple where Kim Phuc and others had taken cover during the bombing. Cao Dai is a syncratic religion whose followers worship everything from people to the Hindu gods.
Our next stop was the town of Cu Chi, home of the notorious Cu Chi Tunnels. We were able to see the various types of booby traps and tunnel sytems used by the Viet Cong, who fought against the Americans in this area. Some of us were even able to crawl through the tunnels and fire various weapons at the range. Our examination of the tunnel systems revealed that the Viet Cong was a sophisticated fighting force. They dug tunnels that were kilometers long and consisted of multiple levels. The tunnels were tiny, but they had since been widened for fat American tourists like us. Our experience at the Cu Chi tunnels gave us a better idea of the horrendous conditions endured by the Viet Cong in their struggle against the American invaders. They must truly have been an inspired and determined fighting force to live only on tapioca for years. Their traps also showed how gruesome the war was and gave insight into the psychological aspects of a Guerrila War. Walking through that dense jungle as an American solider, one would have had to be on constant guard for the trickery of the VC.
After a scenic lunch at a resort-like river eatery, we embarked on a 4-hour bus ride to the Mekong Delta. On the way, some of the students enjoyed a lively discussion with our guide, Trang, about his expiriences in the Vietnamese Army. Trang was just a boy during the war with America, but went on to fight against the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. His father was a soldier in the South Vietnamese Army, fighting alongside the Americans in the late 60’s. Trang’s family was displaced from their village near Da Nang and was forced to live in the forest. His personal tale of woe added to the lessons we learned from Kim Phuc’s family about the impact of the war on children and other innocents.
When we arrived in the Mekong Delta, we immediately boarded a boat in the dead of night. The boat ride was beautiful, but also ominous, as many of us couldn’t help but be reminded of scenes from Apocolypse Now. After a 20-minute ride, we arrived at our homestay, which seemed clean and welcoming. We enjoyed a traditional dinner and some hammock time as we reposed well into the night on the outdoor patio. We will now head to bed as we have an early morning at the market planned for tomorrow.
Carson, Michela, and Kate

A Visit to “The Girl in the Picture” Kim Phuc’s Family Home

Published February 16, 2012

Francis Parker School – South to North – Day Three

Today was a very fun and eventful day. Our first major event was a visit to Kim Phuc’s family’s house. However, along the way our tour guide, Mr. Hao, was kind enough to tell us his life story.  Like most Vietnamese citizens Mr. Hao was affected by the Vietnam War. He was forcibly enlisted in the Vietnamese army and fought in Cambodia against his father’s wishes. Their relationship was shattered by Hao’s service time and also their family’s house was confiscated. After the war was over, Hao rebuilt his relationship with his father, getting his father’s house back. Learning of Hao’s story taught us about the social turmoil after the Vietnam War from a soldier’s standpoint. Next we arrived at Kim Phuc’s house. We watched a documentary before meeting Kim’s sister-in-law. Kim Phuc, “the girl in the picture,” provided great insight into the path and power of reconciliation. She forgave all those who harmed and managed to transform the atrocities of her scars into a memorial for peace and hope.

After seeing Kim’s family, we visited the neighboring Cao Dai temple, which infused aspects of Confucianism, Taoism, Catholicism, and Buddhism. The four religions were combined through the architecture and orientation of religious service. The spiritual leaders of the Cao Dai emphasized  the virtues of living a simple life in search for enlightenment.

We traveled to Cu Chi to see the network of underground tunnels used by the south during the war. We learned of the tunnels’ functions and how they supported the South Vietnamese against the Americans. We also watched a Northern Vietnamese propaganda video that presented a new perspective on the war through  the eyes of a communist fighter. The tunnels were awe-inspiring to say the least. Inside the tunnels, there were complex designs consisting of planning rooms, smoke chimneys, air holes, and even underwater entrances. We crawled in an enlarged tunnel, which was fit for Americans. The original tunnels were barely large enough for us larger-framed Americans to crawl through.
The rest of the day consisted driving through the Mekong Delta and celebrated a chaperone’s birthday.

—Christine Buckley

Photographer Nick Ut to Travel to Vietnam with Peace Works Travel!

Published January 31, 2012

If you heard Vietnam War survivor Kim Phuc speak at the Lobero on the 19th, you’ll remember the heartfelt words she had for the photographer who captured the iconic image and saved her life. That Pulitzer prize-winning photographer was Nick Ut, and he and Kim remain close friends to this day (Kim speaks of the value of their friendship in her life in this recent interview with the Santa Barbara Independent).
Now, with the 40th anniversary of the photograph “The Girl in the Picture” approaching this summer, photographer Nick Ut will travel to Vietnam in March with Peace Works Travel, where he and students on the trip will revisit the site where the photograph was taken. The trip will be documented by video journalists from ABC News, who plan to put together a documentary on Nick, Kim, and the photograph that changed both their lives. Click here and scroll down to see Nick included in a compilation of photographers and the images that made them famous, and stay tuned for more information about the documentary and trip this spring!