Rach Thay Tieu, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Three groups, comprising of the entire 4th grade art class at Saigon South International School, dipped the cloth in the Rach Thay Tieu off of the Starlight Bridge in District 7 inHo Chi Minh City (formally Saigon,) Vietnam.

The Rach Thay Tieu  is an important waterway to the newly developed urban area, District 7, in Ho Chi Minh City.Three groups and three stations consisting of nature drawing, poetry and writing, and dipping the river fabric. At the end of the session water samples were taken for further investigation in the classroom.

In 2010, the first pedestrian bridge in Vietnam was built over the Rach Thay Tieu. It is called the Starlight Bridge and it connects the Crescent area with the Dao canal. This bridge is a famous attraction for tourists known for the light show and water sprays off either side at night.

The Rach Thay Tieu not only functions as an important waterway for commerce, but also has transitioned to a beautiful attraction for citizens and students.

The large sheets of fabric are foldling after drying. Another creative art project will take shape from the cloth.

Painting by To Ngoc Van (Vietnamese, 1906-1954)

Vintage postcard of Saigon

THICH NHAT HANH, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, is a renowned Zen Master, poet, peace activist, author, and teacher and founder of the Engaged Buddhist movement. His books and lectures are devoted the peaceful and contentment, the practice of meditation and mindfulness. The element of water and the flow of rivers are used metaphorically in his art, calligraphy, and poetry.

In the article, Resting in the River Thich Nhat Hanh explains how resting our physical body to restore itself, and our consciousness, is important to mindfulness.
Go As A River is one in a series of calligraphies

Please Call Me By My True Names is a poem where Thich Nhat Hanh reconciles dualities, north and south. Ultimately we are are all one. I am you and you are me.

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow–even today I am still arriving.
Look deeply: every second I am arriving to be a bud on a Spring branch, to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings, learning to sing in my new nest, to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, to fear and to hope. The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive.
I am a mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river. And I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.
I am a frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond. And I am the grass-snake that silently feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks. And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.
I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.
I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hinds. And I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to my people dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.
My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth. My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up and the door of my heart could be left open, the door of compassion. 

St. Joseph River, Michigan, USA

The St. Joseph River  is located in the southwest portion of Michigan. The St. Joseph River Watershed is important to many townships in Michigan. It spans the Michigan-Indiana border and drains over 4,000 square miles (15 counties) and empties into Lake Michigan at St. Joseph, Michigan.  

Heidi Hough spends time in St. Joseph, Chicago, and New Zealand cultivating her knowledge and care of the nature, plants, and sprouting greens. She dipped cloth in the river with friends Suzanne Fraker and Phyllis Kopriva.

St. Joseph River was important to native peoples dating back to 10 B.C. to the prehistoric people called the Hopewell. The Hopewell were hunter-gatherers and farmers operating a vast trading network stretching across the valleys and forests of the central United States.


The Hopewell built burial mounds in the states we now call Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. A number of other Middle Woodland period cultures are known to have been involved in the Hopewell tradition. Artifacts made from the natural resources have been discovered such as carved obsidian, bowls, and pots made from Michigan’s copper.

Two notable sites are the Norton Mound in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Hopewell Mounds in Ross County, Ohio. In the late 1800s settlers slowly eroded the mounds for the soil. French explorers, missionaries and fur traders traversed the St. Joseph River Valley during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries interacting with the native tribes people. The French paved the way for a French settlement at Fort St. Joseph (present-day Niles) and in 1680, Fort Miami was established at the mouth of the St. Joseph River.

Parts of Michigan were settled in the early 1800s with the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. Pioneers were attracted to the unbroken plains of fertile land and waterpower possibilities.  

Settlers had to endure difficult conditions of weather and situations of disease to master the crop production of wheat and corn. St. Joseph was officially organized in 1829 with a population of one thousand people growing to seven thousand settlers by 1840. Today, the watershed is still largely agricultural. More than 50% of the riparian habitat is agricultural/urban, while 25-50% remains forested.

An interesting headline is a story about an iron factory built next to the river in 1832

Pambak River, Vanadzor, Armenia

The Pembak River is in the Lori Province of the Pambak Mountains region and flows west to east through spectacular gorges of the Bazum Mountains. The town of Vanadzor joins the waters of the Tandzut, Vanadzor, Vahagni (formerly Zamanlu), and the Surbkirakijur rivers. The waters flow into the Debed River, or Debeda (Georgian) or Tona (Azerbaijani). The water serves as a natural boundary between Armenia and Georgia and ultimately drains to the Kura river.

Sofia Kalantaryan lives in the northern town of Vanadzor.  Sofia Kalantaryan and Vanik Manoukyan dipped the white cloth in honor of Sofia’s husband, Astgh Melkonyan. who was an artist.  Vanik Manoukyan was Astgh Melkonyan student.

Armenia is a picturesque country filled with mountains, nature, and petroglyphs. Ancient churches, monasteries, and temples produce a sacred landscape. Urartu, also known as the Kingdom of Van, was an Iron Age kingdom centred on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands dating back 3000 years.It corresponds to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat. Armenia is considered as the land of Noah. The capital of Yerevan is older than Rome and includes archeological findings going back to five thousand years. 

The dress of the Armenians reflects a rich cultural tradition. Wool and fur were utilized and later cotton was grown in the fertile valleys during the Urartian period. Armenians are people rich in tradition and passion for excellence in handmade craft, such as needle lace, woven rugs, and carved rocks (cross stone). 

Armenia is a country known for its natural beauty of mountains, rivers, and ancient architecture as well as a history of changing borders.  Below are maps from 1719, 1762, and 1783.

Headline: Using ecotourism to save Pambak River 



Rio Jatunyaku, Puerto Napo, Ecuador

Rio Jatunyacu (Jatunyacu), or the Upper Rio Napo, extends west from the town of Tena Cliffs in Ecuador, a town of canyons and jungle. This wide, flat river of rolling waves and placid pools is a main tributary of the Amazon originating from glacier water and springs fed by the active Cotopaxi Volcano. Its name in Kichwa means “big water”  in the Quechua language.  Ecuador is divided into three continental regions: the Costa, Sierra, and Oriente. Eastern slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes traverse into the lowland rainforest in the Amazon Basin.

Alejandra (Ali), from Ushuaia, Argentina was rafting on the Rio Jatunyacu and dipped the white cloth while traversing through the energetic river.   A kayak race commences every year.


Only 2% of the entire Amazon Basin belongs to Ecuador, about the size of the state of Alabama.

Ecuador was part of the Inca Empire until the Spanish conquest in 1533. In 1563 the city of Quito was the seat of Spanish colonial government and in 1717 joined Colombia and Venezuela to become part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. These countries gained their independence from Spain gradually between 1819 and 1822 formed a federation known as Gran Colombia. Quito withdrew from Gran Colombia in 1830. Its named was changed to the “Republic of the Equator,” Ecuador.

Wikicommons Ecuador Rio Napo 1985