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Trip to Vietnam 2013

MVCC Professional Development Travel, May-June 2013

In late May and early June, Mr. Dennis Gibbons, Associate Dean for Student and Resident Life Services, visited Vietnam with Dr. Sandra Engel, Director of International Education and Fulbright alumna who spent a semester at MVCC’s partner school, Kien Giang Community College. The purposes of this visit were to learn about student affairs in Vietnam; to share MVCC (and thus American) practices in student affairs and residence life; and since Gibbons was traveling on his first passport, to have an experience akin to that our students whose first international travel may be to come to MVCC. Almost immediately upon his return, he shared his perceptions and ideas with the Student Affairs leadership.

In Vietnam, Gibbons gave presentations, met colleagues, and, it turns out, was the first American to give a presentation in Vietnam on Student Affairs! They also arrived in time for KGCC’s tenth anniversary.

First were quick visits to Ben Thanh Market, the War Remnants Museum and the water puppets performance.

Photo: Water Puppets

Gibbons and Engel made the six hour car ride to KGCC. There they met many of the former KGCC visitors to MVCC: Ms. Oanh, Mr. Thong, Ms. Thanh and Ms. Khanh. After their initial, formal visit with Rector (President) Vo Thi Xinh, KGCC offered the rich hospitality that Vietnam is famous for, including a meal at the one-person hot pot restaurant followed by coffee on a floating restaurant on the Bay of Thailand.

They also had a huge dinner at Ms. Oanh’s house in the countryside after a morning visit by ferry to an orchid garden.

Photo: MVCC Staff met with former KGCC visitors

Vice Rector Hai provided a wonderful dinner and KGCC provided delicious lunches with friends in the faculty dining room. Ms. Khanh arranged for eight more ao dai to be made for MVCC faculty and staff. Ms. Thanh was responsible for the schedule, and she also arranged a tour of Rach Gia City and environs.

Photo: Dennis Gibbons with KGCC Faculty

Vietnam, more than the US, considers extensive hospitality necessary to build the relationship before doing business. But business was certainly done. After a tour of the campus and the dormitories, Gibbons met with two Student Affairs folks, one of whom was the primary person responsible for the dormitories (“residence halls” in Vietnam are called “dormitories”). His presentation served as the basis for extensive discussion. KGCC also arranged a campus tour and meeting with Student Affairs representatives from a local medical college so as to provide a second perspective.

Photo: Dennis giving presentation

Congratulations to KGCC on their tenth anniversary!

Photo: MVCC Faculty dressed up with Traditional Vietnamese Clothings

Back in Ho Chi Minh City, Gibbons gave a very successful presentation at the Southeast Asia Ministry of Education and Training Organization, a teacher training center. This was arranged by the Public Affairs Office of the US Consulate, and only at the end did they learn that this was the first American presentation on Student Affairs in Vietnam!

They also visited the Public Affairs Office of the US Consulate where they met with the EducationUSA officer, the Public Affairs Officer and his assistant, and the first Vietnamese Fulbrighter to come to the US, all of whom provided more information and context about Student Affairs in Vietnam.

In addition, a likely candidate for the next MVCC visit and other ways for KGCC and MVCC to collaborate were identified.