UM’s wintersession program is off to a powerful start after three days in Ho Chi Minh City. Thanks to a six-year history, and YSEALI programs through the Mansfield Center, we have many friends in the big city to welcome, host, and teach us.
Here is Nghi teaching Paul how to make spring rolls, and Nghi teaching us basic Vietnamese phrases with the help of young scholars she invited from the group Coi Viet. They are quite encouraging despite
how slow we are to learn the tones.
Later, we visited the Trà Đạo tea house, where Viên Trân taught us how to make green and lotus tea and the traditions involved, and shared about the prolonged floods earlier this year that destroyed so many crops in the central province.
We were all charmed by her sincerity and warmth and music.
These first few days have also involved a sobering visit to the War Remnants Museum and a long talk at the U.S. Consulate about the last 20 years of strong diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries.
Their American Center library was filled with interesting books, encouraging words for Vietnamese travelers to the U.S., and great views of the city.
Yesterday, we visited the Can Gio Biosphere Reserve, to experience the mangrove forests, help with replanting, talk with farmers who live inside as forest protectors, and learn from local experts about the role of the mangroves as green walls, green lungs, and green kidneys.
Our time in Ho Chi Minh City ended with a Western New Year’s celebration, where the University of Montana students met with students from Cornell University, who just arrived to also study climate change for their University’s first year program.
A local film crew followed us around most of the day, eager to share the story of University programs coming to Vietnam to learn about the culture, society, and environment.
Next stop, Can Tho. Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage from UM students.