This summer, Provost Elizabeth Say and Dean of Extended University Osman Ozturgut embarked on a 13-day tour of Vietnam with the goal of building relationships and exploring possibilities of mutual student and faculty exchange with prestigious universities in this up-and-coming area of the world.

Despite being separated by almost 8,000 miles, there is a synergy between CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) and Vietnam. While Vietnam is ancient, the modern incarnation of Vietnam is young, similar to that of CSUCI. The very pillars that make CSUCI strong – a commitment to community engagement, internationalization, and multiculturalism – are the same pillars embraced by our Vietnamese counterparts. “We are both young, energetic, and willing to experiment,” said Provost Elizabeth Say.

Universities visited include Vietnam National Universities in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, Can Tho University in the heart of the Mekong Delta, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, the University of Da Nang, and National Economics University, to name a few.

The hope is to build student, faculty, and research exchanges between CSUCI and nine universities in Vietnam. For example, Thuyloi University began as the leading university in the field of water resources. “Imagine the intellectual conversations that can happen between our Environmental Science & Resource Management faculty and the faculty at Thuyloi, if given the opportunity,” said Say. To ease the language barrier, many Vietnamese universities visited have entire programs being taught in English.

Both Ozturgut and Say agree that the highlight of their trip was sitting outside on a warm night in Da Nang watching the International Fireworks Festival where Finland took first prize. The hope is that more CSUCI students and faculty will have this same opportunity to experience the rich culture, breathtaking scenery, and expanding educational systems of Vietnam.

“The globe is shrinking. Economies and people are interconnected. If you want to find solutions to global problems, you need to think globally” said Ozturgut. “Diversity is not just a moral good,” adds Say. “The more diverse ideas you have in the room, the better decisions you make.” Their joint advice to students considering an experience abroad in Vietnam is to jump in and try something different, even if only for a short period of time. Vietnam is very safe country, and with the support of staff on campus, students abroad will never feel alone.

Hai Le, Information Technology Consultant at CSUCI, agrees that Vietnam is the next frontier in global education. Le came to California from Vietnam in 1975 as a child, and sees the possibility of a future partnership between CSUCI and Vietnamese universities as building a critical bridge between the two countries. In addition, the U.S. is still the land of intrigue to a lot of Vietnamese students. Le himself looks forward to being a resource for incoming Vietnamese students, just as the Vietnamese community in the United States supported him.

For more information regarding opportunities for faculty or students to visit Vietnam, please visit their website at International Programs or their offices on the second floor of Sage Hall.

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