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,

Spotted At The Space: Nick Ut & Kim Phúc

Published May 16, 2013


On our unprecedented educational field trip to the Annenberg Space for Photography War Photos, Peace Works Travel students and schools enjoyed a conversation with Living History icons, the 1972 “Napalm Girl” Kim Phuc, and the Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer, Nick Ut. Illustrating that our program offers enrichment far beyond the standard educational travel tours, students were treated to a personal lunch and interaction with these amazing individuals from the Vietnam War. “Our students are incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity,” remarked history teacher Eric Taylor of Francis Parker School. “Understanding the war from such a personal, human perspective will make their Vietnam spring break 2014 educational experience so much more meaningful.” Peace Works Travel partners with Francis Parker’s Global Initiatives for life-changing international student volunteer learning trips.

We had a couple of very special visitors at the Photography Space this past weekend. Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photographer Nick Ut came to the WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY exhibit along with Kim Phúc, the little girl in his famous Vietnam War photo. The two viewed the photos and the film in the show. Above is a picture from their visit.

Phúc was only nine when the image was taken 41 years ago and now lives in Toronto. She described the event in an interview last year:

“Suddenly I saw fire around me and it burned my clothes. I was very scared and began to cry. I tried to run away from there…I ran and ran until I saw people in front of me. I felt very hot, thirsty and asked for help. They gave me water to drink and wet my body, and I lost consciousness.”

Here’s archival film footage of the moment when Ut took his photograph.