UB First American University Offering "Summer In Vietnam" Program

Release Date: February 9, 1996 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo World Languages Institute (WLI) has announced plans to offer "Summer in Vietnam," a pioneering six-week language and culture program that is the only one of its kind available in Vietnam through an American university.

The program will run from June 1 to July 13 at the Dong Do University of Science and Technology, a private university founded by a group of eminent Vietnamese educators and scientists in Hanoi. It is located in Hanoi's ancient, romantic and architecturally elegant Hoan Kiem sector, where students will live in a guest house while attending school.

The five-credit undergraduate program is one of only three study-abroad programs in Vietnam offered by U.S. universities, and is the only summer program in a northern city. It is sponsored in cooperation with the UB Office of International Education.

The program is unique in that it includes a homestay and participants will be paired with Vietnamese students who are interested in learning more about America and in getting to know Americans on a one-to-one basis.

Mark Ashwill, Ph.D., director of the institute, which is a unit of the UB Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, said the recent normalization of relations between Vietnam and the United States paved the way for the development of the program.

It is grounded, however, in a history of cooperative ventures between UB and Vietnam that date to the 1970s, when the university's world-renowned English Language Institute (ELI) began to offer regular English language training to Vietnamese students in Buffalo.

Ashwill said the program will give students an opportunity to study the Vietnamese language and culture, as well as interact with the country's people.

Students will have daily classroom instruction in language and an ongoing cultural seminar that will introduce them to Vietnamese history, geography, economy, education, common religions, philosophies and general world view. The program also will include a series of field trips and tours, including an excursion to a northern Vietnamese village and a two-day sightseeing trip to Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon).

Ashwill said it has been his experience that students in similar UB programs have come to serve as "cultural bridges" between their host nations and the United States in the arts, business, education, politics and the sciences.

The "Summer in Vietnam" program, for instance, will be directed by Hoang Vu Cuong, a Vietnamese citizen and alumnus of the ELI who has served the WLI as an instructor in Vietnamese language. After completing his ELI program at UB, Hoang received a Harvard-Yenching Fellowship and is currently enrolled in UB's doctoral program in international trade.

• In the 1980s the university's ELI welcomed the first Vietnamese national to study in the United States after the end of the Vietnamese War.

• The ELI recently hosted the first group of Vietnamese Fulbright scholars to come to the U.S. since 1975 for intensive language training in preparation for their graduate programs in American universities.

• UB is currently one of only 20 institutions of higher education in the U.S. that offers courses in Vietnamese language and culture.

Stephen Dunnett, Ph.D., vice provost for international education and founder and director of the ELI, said he is delighted to join the WLI in developing this venture.

"The program opens the door for a broader collaboration with Dong Do University," he said, "including a future exchange of students and faculty."

He added that, if past experience is a gauge, UB's presence in Vietnam will benefit Western New York companies interested in doing business in Vietnam's booming economy.

The cost to participants in the "Summer in Vietnam" program will be approximately $3,500 for New York State residents (higher for out-of-state residents), which includes international airfare, housing, tuition and books. For further information, contact Mark Ashwill, at 716-645-2292.

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