On June 8, 1972, photographer Nick Ut captured the iconic image of 9-year-old Kim Phuc running naked on a road after being severely burned by a napalm attack on her village and changed the way the world looked at war.
Phuc is best known as “The Girl in the Picture,” a survivor of the Vietnam War. Now, 40 years later, Phuc has become an international symbol of civilian suffering from war and a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for a Culture of Peace.
“40 Years of Forgiveness: A Conversation with Kim Phuc” will give the Santa Barbara community an opportunity to hear Kim’s inspiring story, through film clips and a discussion with local students traveling to the site of her tragic injury in Vietnam.
Friendship Tours World Travel is an educational tour and community-service program for American students and teachers focused in the countries of former adversaries. 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.
Phuc, the Vietnam War’s famous child survivor, will share historical footage and personal testimony of the accidental bombing, the photograph and her journey to forgiveness. Her discussion will include short clips from Kim’s Story: The Road from Vietnam, a comprehensive documentary film. Phuc’s incredible strength and spirit are evident when she speaks about forgiveness and helping children. The nonprofit organization she established, The KIM Foundation International, may have been inspired by her pain, but its focus is on world peace and healing.
“Forgiveness made me free from hatred,” said Phuc, international speaker and napalm survivor. “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?”
A generation of people will never forget Ut’s Life Magazine cover image in 1972. President Richard Nixon doubted its authenticity. Historians credit it with helping end the Vietnam War. Symbolizing what words cannot convey about the horror of war, the iconic image of “The Girl in the Picture” still instructs us about the impact of photojournalism during a time of war. Today’s youth understand the force of photo and film media as tools for generating awareness and change in a sympathetic public remote from conflicts.
“We are excited to welcome Kim Phuc to Santa Barbara,” said Alethea Paradis, director of Friendship Tours World Travel. “It is an honor to bring Kim’s positive outlook to the youth of our community. Global consciousness is critical for student success, especially in matters of war and peace.”
Join the Lobero Theatre of Santa Barbara as it hosts “40 Years of Forgiveness: A Conversation with Kim Phuc” on Jan. 19, a benefit for The KIM Foundation and Friendship Fund, nonprofit causes providing life-changing opportunities for children to recover and learn from the tragedy of war. An exclusive reception with Phuc and silent photography auction, “Vietnam, Through the Lens of a New Generation,” will be held following the main event in the Lobero Theatre Courtyard.
For tickets, call 805.963.0761 or click here.
— Alethea Paradis represents Friendship Tours World Travel.