At the very end of the spring 2014 semester, six students participated in a unique course, Business and Cultural Essence of Vietnam, led by marketing instructor Courtney Pham.
During the course, students met during the regular spring semester six times to complete assignments and prepare for the trip. The group even went to dinner together at a Vietnamese restaurant. Then, from May 17-31, the group traveled to Vietnam for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“An experience like this helps students develop skills and gives experiences a classroom setting will never provide. It’s an opportunity to discover new strengths and abilities, conquer new challenges, and solve new problems. Students will encounter situations that are wholly unfamiliar and will learn to adapt and respond in effective ways,” states Pham.
One way students were able to develop these new skills was through visits to companies in Vietnam, learning about topics ranging from operation styles to management approaches. Visits included United Airlines, where students met with Country Manager, Joe Mannix.
“Visiting United Airlines was a great experience for all of us. Mr. Mannix talked to us about the cultural differences between Vietnam and he also talked about Thailand. It really exemplified how important it is to go to different countries and experience their cultures in order to have the competitive edge when you get into the workforce,” stated accelerated MBA student Kristina Lor.
Students also attended a briefing at the U. S. Consulate General, met some high ranking diplomats and visited the American Center. While in Ho Chi Minh City, the group went to Saigon Technical University and met with local students who took them on a moped tour of the city. Many cultural sites were also on the must-see list as a part of this experience, including the Vinh Long Floating Market, the Imperial Palace in Hue City including Emperor Tu Duc’s Tomb, Mun Island, Mot Island, Tam Islands, and the Oceanographic Institute in Phan Thiet City.
Students were also able to experience dinner with a local family while in Vietnam. Instructor Pham’s father lives in Ho Chi Minh City and invited the entire group to his house. It was a special evening for the students to see a traditional home and experience a traditional dinner.
“This experience was beneficial to each of the students on the trip as they got to know another culture first-hand. Cultural differences are more than just differences in language, food, appearances, and personal habits. A person’s culture reflects very deep perceptions, beliefs, and values that influence his or her way of life and the way that s/he views the world. Students who experience cultural differences personally can come to truly understand where other cultures are coming from,” states instructor Pham.
For more information about potential study away experiences for business majors, visit the International Business Programs office on the second floor of Glass Hall or online at http://ibp.missouristate.edu.