After arrival there in May, the team will socialize with Vietnamese students from their host university, offering those students an opportunity to practice their English speaking skills and learn about American culture. Our team members will study Vietnamese language and culture and participate in planned field trips. Unplanned events with their new Vietnamese friends-- like softball, karaoke, and dining out--are part of the experience as well. In addition, team members get to live in the homes of their Vietnamese hosts, which provides the students with a wonderful opportunity to better appreciate Vietnamese family life.
Members of the REI-VN Resident Staff team (who work at various Vietnamese universities) were asked if they knew of another university--in addition to the University of Language and International Studies (ULIS)--that would like to participate in this cultural exchange program. The National Economics University (NEU) has expressed interest in this, so the program is now expanding from one to two teams of students to accommodate the new venue.
Each team will have five or six members. Five of this year’s participants have previously gone to Vietnam in previous years and have chosen to return because they enjoyed the experience and the people so much. They look forward to renewing friendships with Vietnamese students they met on past trips. Like last year, the 2014 Cultural Exchange team includes a few recent college graduates. But for the first time, two of the participants are married – Caleb and Katelyn Quinones.
Bob Motsay, a former Resident Staff member and REI-VN English Educator team leader, will act as Lead Instructor for the team going to serve at NEU, the new campus. Caleb Quinones, a member of the 2012 team, is their Student Leader. Jeff Stebbins, who has led the Cultural Exchange team for the past three years, will be the Lead Instructor for the team serving ULIS, with Ethan Springer, 2013 team member, acting as the Student Leader. The logistics of having two teams will present some challenges and advantages. REI-VN is hoping that experiences gained at ULIS will help to reduce the learning curve at NEU.
The Vietnamese students from ULIS and NEU will have different intentions in what they hope to gain from the exchange program. ULIS students use their English speaking skills in a wide variety of fields, such as business, tourism, and education. NEU’s “2+2”program consists of two years of study on their campus plus two years of study in the United States. NEU’s students want this opportunity to use their English speaking skills with American students, and to learn as much as possible about American culture to facilitate their upcoming time in the USA.