Vietnam and Cambodia: A Small Taste of a New Place - Grace Emmerling, CED and Economics Majors, Spanish minor

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Posted: June 17, 2013

The unique history of these places make them extremely worthwhile to study and explore further.
Vietnamese students and I in Saigon

Vietnamese students and I in Saigon

Three days after the end of the Spring 2013 semester a group of students, from various majors, and I left for Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  The trip was the culmination of a class taught by Dr. Mark Brennan and Dr. Anouk Patel-Campillo that discussed various topic associated with the post-war development of both Vietnam and Cambodia.

We visited palaces, temples, markets, museums and the like.  We met many people, and found ourselves having conversations with more English-speakers than EmmerlingVietnam2.pngwe would have expected!  Among those we had the benefit of talking and sharing with were Vietnamese and Thai students during a cultural exchange at an agricultural university in Ho Chi Minh.  We spent a few hours with them, watching beautiful performances and discussing university life.  It was a wonderful opportunity to meet peers from across the world.  In addition, we met the mayor of Da Lat, a French-influenced city in southern Vietnam, French students working at a local university, and tour guides with insight about both Vietnam and Cambodia.  In all, our exchanges with these individuals helped us understand some social, economic, and agricultural aspects of each of these countries and provided us with fun opportunities to become better global citizens!

In a bustling country like Vietnam, with thousands of motorbikes in the streets at all hours of the day and night, it was easy to get caught up in the rush and speed of the people and travel.  During this experience, I learned the benefits of taking a step back and looking at the big picture.  Quiet observation helped me to notice EmmerlingVietnam3.pngthings about the people, the ecology, and the history of both Vietnam and Cambodia.  Writing these observations in a journal was invaluable to my experience. 

I would describe this experience as a great taste of the other half of the world.  The short time we had in Vietnam and Cambodia was enough to spark curiosity and motivate me to do more research and travel to both of these places, if not more in eastern Asia.  The unique history of these places make them extremely worthwhile to study and explore further while learning how we are all interconnected, even from across the globe.