Seven days exploring Vietnam of Ohio University faculty and staff
This May, we’re very honored to welcome a group of faculty and staff from Ohio University to Ho Chi Minh. To some of them, this is the first time to travel abroad, let alone get exposed to an Asian culture. Meanwhile, to several people, Vietnam is not a strange place yet saves unforgettable memories of their youth. Thus, ABROADER try our best to fully show them a modern but traditional Vietnam through many exciting activities during this trip.
The contemporary Vietnam
Apart from extracurricular activities, Ohio faculty and staff also had a chance to join formal events, one of which was visits to universities and companies in Ho Chi Minh city. One destination in the visit was NashTech which – the top Software Development & Outsourcing company and the dream internship place for IT students. We also paid a visit to University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City (UEH) and University of Architecture where Ohio faculty and staff met Vietnamese professors and learnt about Vietnamese universities such as one university is for one major only, the students’ study path, and different research potentially collaborated. Meanwhile, in RMIT University Vietnam, our guests witnessed a model of Australian University in Vietnam from design to curriculum.
Meeting your peers and broaden your horizon of knowledge is very important, ABROADER held a networking night for Ohio faculty and staff to meet specialists from their fields of interest. We had invited many thriving Vietnamese experts from different backgrounds such as: cuisine, organic farming, architecture, education, and business consulting. Face-to-face conversation with these local people was the best way to be updated about what is going on in those fields in Vietnam.
Education is the foundation of any nation, and how the educational system in Vietnam currently operates is questioned by our beloved faculty and staff. Thus, a seminar on Vietnam education system was held for our American guests by a Vietnamese expert in this field. She has many years of experience in not only Vietnam education system but also Australian and U.S education. Her newly established school is ready to open in the coming academic year! The Ohio group was surprised with how overloaded the local education system was, up to 60 – 70 students per class at many primary schools. Another sad fact was the extremely stressful and competitive entrance exams to enter high school in Vietnam that may hinder many students from pursuing their education if they fail.
The historic aspects of Vietnam
What can tell the history of Vietnam better than the historic destinations themselves? In our City Tour, well-known historic sites let our beloved guests hear and observe themselves the past of the nation. The most special place in the tour must be Pho Binh Restaurant where not only serves the pride of Vietnamese cuisine: Pho but also possesses a mini historic museum. During the Tet Offensive of 1968, this seemingly ordinary restaurant was the secret headquarters of the Viet Cong (Vietnamese Communists) in Saigon where many attacks on the US embassy and other Saigon targets were planned. With such a crucial role in the war, Pho Binh Restaurant was even praised as ‘‘The Noodle Shop That Changed the War’’. After a delicious bowl of Pho, faculty and staff got engaged in the photos of the past and stories from the son of Pho Binh Restaurant.
Other destinations in the City Tour:
The Central Post Office
Phước Hải Temple
The trip to Cu Chi Tunnel was another chance for our guests to dig deep into the history of Vietnam. According to Wikipedia, during the Vietnam war, Cu Chi Tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as ‘‘hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters.’’. Nowadays, Cu Chi Tunnel is innovated into a memorial park where visitors can watch short films about the tunnels and crawl around the tunnel system. Crawling into these narrow tunnels wasn’t easy at all; however, Ohio faculty and staff were all very excited to know the underground life of Vietnamese soldiers back in the past.
The cultural aspects of Vietnam
ABROADER believe that arts performance is among the best ways to deliver the unique cultural values of Vietnam to international friends. Thus, we led our beloved faculty and staffs to the 121-year-old Saigon Opera House to enjoy A O Show. Lune Production – the producer of the show has the very good description of it: ‘‘The show depicts the charming beauty and cultural richness of Vietnamese life in the countryside, in contrast with the nation’s racing urbanization. The show is a unique mix of bamboo cirque, acrobatic acts, contemporary dance, and theatrical visual art. The live music echoes Vietnamese Southern work songs. All in all, this beautiful blend of genres creates a unique stage language, which well captures the essence of Vietnam’s fascinating culture.”.
To have the most authentic experience of Vietnamese lifestyle in countryside, faculty and staff joined our Mekong Delta Tour to the Western region of Vietnam. Travelling by boat, making fresh coconut water, listening to traditional music and eating local food were very new yet exciting to them!
After a few days living in Vietnam, Ohio faculty and staff were all impressed with the excellent Vietnamese cuisine. So ABROADER decided to invite them to a Vietnamese cooking class where they could learn to make Vietnamese dishes by themselves and even do it at their hometown afterwards. They were taught how to make summer food such as: summer rolls, lotus rice and salad. The most intriguing part is when cooking competition popped up among our guests! ABROADER was so stunned with how well our guests made and decorated all the food!
ABROADER strongly believes in one famous saying: ‘‘Travelling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.’’. Thus, during the 7-day trip in Vietnam, we make every effort to show the faculty and staff from Ohio University the diverse aspects of Vietnam. We do hope they will become the best storytellers of how beautiful and friendly our Vietnam is.
P/s: Thank you, Beth, for some of beautiful photos in this article!
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