January 2020

Vietnam: From War to a Development Model

Field-Based Course facilitated by Vietnamese thought leaders, our students, and faculty
Optional Course Credit

This opportunity begins in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi with COMMENCEMENT on 6 January 2020.
Commencement will be celebrated at The Green One, the country headquarters for the United Nations. Government, non-profit, academic, UN, and development entities will join this day, which includes an Educational Charrette on how a post-war, climate-challenged country can deliver quality education. This is a concern of most, if not all, of our Master of Arts students and their communities.

Commencement takes place in the context of Vietnam’s historical and cultural past—an identity rooted in education and redemptive struggle against outside forces. Our Vietnamese students and faculty have given careful thought to presenting Vietnam’s identity through the lens of its past in order to face the present and future. Vietnam is among five countries most likely to bear the brunt of climate crisis. This complicates rural-urban, environmental, migration, and overpopulation challenges that may be as great as anything faced during six 20th Century wars.

Building on these four days in Hanoi, there is a second option to join a FIELD-BASED COURSE that originates in Hanoi and continues to Ho Chi Minh City (southern mega-city), Tay Ninh (a small provincial city near the Cambodian border), and Can Tho (the hub of the Mekong Delta). It lasts until 15 January 2020. We will examine present and future paths regarding climate crisis/migration, sustainability/resilience, war/peace/development, renewable resources, rural/city dynamics, and the effect of comparative religions—Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Cao Dai, Christianity, and Ancestralism. We will examine development experiments and join a Bending Bamboo workshop and global classrooms. We will meet scores of teachers and students who are benefiting from the Research, Learning, and Action of our eleven Vietnamese M.A. students. Their community lab gives birth to English Classroom hubs that combine linguistics and development—from pre-school through high school—to grow a country that applies sustainability and resilience learning.

The cost of the 3-15 January Field-Based Course (including Commencement) is $3,193 for students, staff, and faculty. This cost includes international airfare and in-country expenses, but not a tourist visa to Vietnam. If a student travels separately from a location nearer to Vietnam, the cost is $2,271. In this case, the individual bears the cost of international travel and tourist visa, and must time his or her arrival to accommodate the larger group. All participating students must complete and submit the Add Form at (toggle academics, for students, add/drop form). The cost of joining Commencement and activities from 3-7 January is $437. By this option, one is responsible for his or her own airfare and tourist visa. We need to know our participant and student list by 15 October, 2019. Please contact Dan Wessner if you have any questions:



    1. 1 Wednesday New Year’s Day flights from respective airports; meet in Narita on Thursday (loss of a day); onward travel to Ho Chi Minh City together

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)

    1. 2 Thursday Overnight in HCMC; restful breakfast; time for money exchange; and mid-morning flight to Hanoi Hanoi Identity/Past
    2. 3 Friday Check-in followed by afternoon walking tour of Ho Hoan Kiem & Old Quarter (map, dinh, Buddhist temple, Tran Hung Dao, water puppets, kids & stone, group dinner)
    3. 4 Saturday Women’s Museum and “get lost” task whereby groups explore on their own, rest at cafes/lunch, return with a story and question for all reflect over dinner/che
    4. 5 Sunday Tour of ancient/colonial sites – HCM Mausoleum/Ba Dinh, Temple of Literature, Co Loa, bamboo performance, egg coffee/beer, small group dinners at cha ca & bun cha
    5. 6 Monday Education Charrette and Bending Bamboo text debut, lunch, Commencement Ceremony at The Green One UN House; special guests and speakers, dinner

HCMC Peace/Present

    1. 7 Tuesday French & American Wars leading to today’s mega-city; walking tour of War Remnants Museum, JFK Square, Eifel’s influence, Notre Dame; Buddhist lunch; flex dinner
    2. 8 Wednesday Rest, discuss what late-globalizing, climate-challenged countries face in allocating funds for needs such as education, industry, food, energy, health, shelter

Tay Ninh Education/Future

    1. 9 Thursday Early drive up to Tay Ninh; settle in at guest house; observe noon ritual at Cao Dai Holy See, tour sugar mill + solar farm; prepare Bending Bamboo workshop
    2. 10 Friday Bending Bamboo workshop; discourse with teachers and youth; reflection at group dinner; rest or join an optional small group visit to open markets and cafes
    3. 11 Saturday Bending Bamboo workshop; connect the dots— our educational charrette, national policies, UN SDGs, NGOs, provincial/community/family goals, next steps
      Can Tho Sustainability
    4. 12 Sunday Drive to Can Tho; rest; boat trip to Hiep’s countryside home; dinner and evening return to the wharf; prepare semester launch of Bending Bamboo global classrooms
    5. 13 Monday Break into two or three groups, heading to morning and afternoon sessions at Can Tho rural and urban high schools; engage Vietnamese youth and English teachers
    6. 14 Tuesday Restful day on Tiger Island; meet farmers who are accommodating change; take time on Tuesday for reflection at Bac Ton’s home; Ninh Kieu sinh to; late drive to TSN/HCMC


  1. 15 Wednesday Early morning departure from TSN; sleep soundly on way home; flights should reach the States around noon or early afternoon


Four weekly online sessions throughout December. Zoom instruction provided by Liz, Dan, Vietnamese colleagues, and FGU students who are making this Study Tour possible.

Full cost that is inclusive of international RT travel, all in-country Vietnam costs for room/board, travel, and program fees: $4,670.

Discounted cost for student participants: $3,193.

Discounted cost for FGU student traveling separately to HCMC (purchasing own international ticket) and participating in Commencement AND the Study Tour/Field-Based Course: $2,271.

Cost of attending Commencement ONLY in Hanoi from the 4th to 7th (purchasing own international ticket): $437.

Request commitment by 15 October 2019; first half-payment by October; second half-payment by December.

Optional course enrollment FBC*604 (Vietnam: From Wars To A Development Model), 3 credits of college/graduate study are available to any participant at no additional cost.

Contact Dan Wessner for questions or to apply: