Partnerships can come in many forms. There are legally binding partnerships, as defined by contracts. There are partnerships formalized in writing, expressing expectations and agreed-upon goals, as defined by Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs). And there are informal partnerships, perhaps best defined as partnerships of friendship. These partnerships of friendship greatly increase the impact of REI as we seek to build people to build nations.
Duke University, located in Durham, North Carolina, largely represented in the person of Dr. Walter Lee, pictured at left above, is one of our “friendship partners.” This partnership has seen expression in several ways:
Research: Duke has provided several grants for research in health in Vietnam. The first grant dates from 2011, when Dr. Walter was provided $5,000 for travel in order to research “Development of Clinical Research Infrastructure in Vietnam.”
A subsequent grant was awarded in 2013 to research “Efficacy of Solar Powered Hearing Aids in Treating Disadvantaged Children with Hearing Loss.” This grant of $10,000 for travel and equipment was awarded by the International Hearing Foundation. This research included a published partnership in the use of solar powered hearing aids for low resource settings. The authorship includes Duke, National ENT Hospital of Hanoi, and REI partners.
Another grant of $40,000 was provided in 2013 by Duke Global Health Institute and Pratt School of Engineering to research “Feasibility Study of Low-Cost, Portable, Fiberoptic Nasolaryngoscope for Early Screening and Detection of Head and Neck Cancers in Vietnam.” This research expanded to a partnership with colleagues at the Duke NUS (National University Singapore) Campus from 2016-2018 on “Partnership to Use a Low-Cost, Mobile Flexible Nasopharyngoscope for Head and Neck Cancer Screening in Vietnam.”
One result of this collaboration was that REI, Duke-NUS, and Duke presented together in a panel recently on this collaborative work at the 6th International Conference of the Development of Biomedical Engineering: Healthcare Technology for Developing Countries, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on June 28, 2016. Dr. Quang (National ENT Hospital), Lien Tran (REI), Dr. Walter Lee (Duke) and Dr. Hiang Khoon Tan from Duke Singapore all spoke together on the panel on “Building Partnerships to Improve Cancer Care in Vietnam: The story of ENsighT.”
Hosting J-1 Fellows: The US State Department allows for a special visa, the J-1, which provides cultural and educational exchange opportunities in the United States. REI has brought over, to date, 106 J-1 Fellows, with more on the way. Dr. Walter and Duke have hosted 3 of these Fellows, who in turn have returned to have major roles in advancing health care in Vietnam, focusing on the tri-fold mission of any academic center: clinical, research, and education. This has been a major part of our partnership as they were integrated for a short time into Duke’s medical program. They were able to learn firsthand the theory and practice behind our integrated approach to the academic mission. They also got to learn about American culture through living with an American family!
Sponsoring REI volunteer team members: One of Duke’s residents, Kevin Choi, received a Humanitarian Travel Grant from Duke’s National Academy in 2016 to be a part of an REI trip led by Dr. Brent Senior.
We at REI are immensely thankful for the desire of Dr. Walter and Duke University to help people in general and to invest in the people of Vietnam in particular. May their tribe increase!
And, in fact, there are other members of this “tribe.” Just down the road from Duke is the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, which has also supported the work of REI through the work of Dr. Brent Senior and 15 or so other doctors and residents, who have all participated in one or more (sometimes many more) of our volunteer team trips. UNC has furthered our work in at least these ways:
1. UNC has “allowed” Dr. Brent to annually take leave in order to work in VN as one of our ENT Team Leaders since 1998.
2. UNC has sent residents year after year on REI trips, which has significantly helped improve residency ENT training in Vietnam.
3. UNC has provided an “open door” so that Vietnamese ENT surgeons, as well as other nationalities, who want to come and observe their American counterparts can do so on a J-1 Fellowship. Dr. Brent has personally sponsored 17 J-1 Fellows.
4. UNC also provided a videographer, who prepared a couple of informational and publicity videos for REI and UNC.Dr. Brent is pictured at front center below, with the ENT Team 2017.
On the opposite side of the continent, Azusa Pacific University provides similar support for our Nurse Education Team. Dr. Elaine Goehner, who founded the School of Nursing at APU a number of years ago and still teaches there, has provided crucial help and training to nurses in Hanoi in particular, but also in Ho Chi Minh City. Dr. Elaine first led a nursing team to Vietnam in 2006, and since then has brought APU faculty members with her several times. In 2016 and 2017 APU brought a total of 5 Vietnamese nursing leaders to the United States to attend a leadership certificate program at APU, along with other international nursing scholars. In the photo below, Elaine, second from left, is pictured with the Nurse Education Team of Fall 2016, flanked by Thuy at left and Hoa at far right, who both attended the leadership certificate program. In 2017 APU School of Nursing faculty hosted 2 Vietnamese scholars for a fellowship in San Diego. Dr. Elaine is hoping to take APU nursing students to Vietnam in the future for a study abroad experience.
Space limitations keep us from going into detail, but REI is honored to have similar partnerships of friendship with Ohio State University and the University of Texas-Galveston.
REI is grateful, and honored, to have such special partnerships of friendship. Our heartfelt thanks go to each and every institution, and each and every individual, who makes this investment to build people to build nations!