Wind on the Sea


BÙI DUY TÂM – VIETNAMESE YOUTH LEADER –  dean of Hue University’s faculty of medicine (above), an accomplished painter (left) and an avid deep-sea diver (right, center).

Wind on the Sea

by Minh Dang Khanh

“OUR COUNTRY is in the midst of hate, struggle, destruction, harassment, turmoil—a nation torn asunder by war. Fortunately, we have Gio Khoi, an organization which continually reminds us of our gentle nature.”

This was written by the eminent Vietnamese poet and journalist Bang Ba Lan about one of the most interesting youth movements in Asia, Gio Khoi, which means “Wind on the Sea” and which was founded by one of the most inspired (and inspiring) youth leaders in Asia, Dr. Bui Duy Tam, dean of the medical faculty of South Vietnam’s Hue University. He is many things to many people. He is an advocate of progressive socialism” and an accomplished painter. He teaches not only medicine but also agriculture, animal husbandry—and music. He loves sailing, deep-sea fishing, volleyball, basketball, football, ping-pong. But Dr. Tam values most his role in Gio Khoi:

I want to nourish a new generation of Vietnamese; to create a stable society; and to preserve and develop Vietnamese culture. To do these things, we must banish bigotry. We must give skilled people their due place in society, but we should not disregard the weak. We must view new political trends with tolerance, accepting all solutions that may bring about an integrated, independent and sovereign Vietnam. We must be eclectics.

The majority of Gio Khoi’s members are university students, Buddhist and Christian, from widely differing backgrounds but with two things in common-youth and intense, idealistic nationalism. Dr. Tam notes:

We have heated debates on many subjects, notably the goals we should pursue. Out of the welter of opinions emerges common sense—most of the time anyway. We’re a working democracy. I often caution members to move slowly, for anyone who acts hurriedly has no companion. At the same time, one must not be occupied with details to the extent that he misses the main point. We must lead creative lives. We are like fishermen in the sea of life. We must spread our nets as widely as possible to obtain a big catch, which means a wider choice.

What goals does Wind on the Sea pursue? Its young people tutor students in Vietnamese schools; sponsor activities in music, drama, painting; teach Chinese and English; instruct young musicians in traditional Vietnamese  instruments like the mandolin, bamboo flute and drum. Dr. Tam is particularly keen on fostering sports.

Volleyball, basketball and football games are good because they give young people team spirit. Tennis and ping-pong games are fine for providing competition and self-confidence. Water-skiing, sailing and deep-sea diving are salutary since they help us get closer to mother nature.

Activities for children range from song and dance festivals and parades to visits to shrines, monuments and scenic spots so that the young will become civic-minded, sensitive to beauty and national culture.

In drama and literature, we’re rescuing old masterpieces from oblivion for use in a Vietnamese national theater. We’re consulting our historians in an effort to piece together old, brittle documents that may cast light on our past. | A strong feeling of brotherhood and love permeates Wind on the Sea, and more than one commentator has remarked that their flower imagery makes them not unlike the higher echelons of America’s “flower children”— redolent with love of nature and man.

In this age when man’s feet are nearly on the moon and his curious eyes are upon the stars, no young man can isolate himself in a shell. Young people should place their family, their society, themselves, in the middle of the international community. A flower, fresh and beautiful but growing in a remote corner, not only doesn’t increase the magnificence of the garden, but may lose the chance to exhibit its own beauty. On the other hand, the blossoming garden of mankind should not exhibit a single variety of flowers, but should present numerous splendors where every man represents a different shade of color. We shall develop and bloom and rise together with the world throughout the five continents. We shall hope for a future day when people from all walks of life, linked hand in hand, turn their eyes toward the community of mankind.

Yet Wind on the Sea’s idealistic internationalism is tempered by realistic nationalism. National interests take priority over every other goal.

Bombs are tearing our lands; yokes are torturing our bodies. But if we do not forget national pride and identity, we shall emerge whole; no one can take from us our greatness as & people. 

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