“To reap return in ten years, plant trees. To reap return in 100, cultivate the people.”
-Ho Chi Minh
The day began with an hour bus ride outside of Hanoi to the Vietnam National University of Forestry (VNUF). Once we arrived administrators gave us a brief introduction of VNUF, particularly focusing on the partnership between VNUF and CSU. VNUF was founded in 1964 and there are two campuses, one outside of Hanoi, the other in Ho Chi Minh City. There are 1,300 staff members and 18,000 students at all levels. There are 7 Masters programs, and 5 PhD programs. The campus includes 100 Hectares of experimental practice forest which was planted 30 years ago for research and education purposes. VNUF is very proud of their research projects and international collaborations with 65 other countries. They explained the history of the relationship between CSU and VNUF and were enthusiastic about new potential collaborations.
After our formal delegation meeting, we met in a lecture hall with over 100 VNUF students. There we gave presentations about Colorado State and our division of student affairs. When we first met the students in the classroom setting, many of them were hesitant to speak with us. After the lecture, our CSU faculty left with VNUF administrators for a lunch meeting, while SAHE students had some informal time with VNUF students. We enjoyed a Vietnamese lunch in the student canteen and after, students showed us around VNUF campus.
The highlight of the day was walking up on the Environmental club practicing a dance that they were working on as a volunteer project to raise money for a local cause. The students invited us to join them! Take a look at our attempt to keep up with their choreography below:
The students were really impressed with our dancing, and this was when they really came out of their shell. Many of us agreed to connect with them over Skype and Facebook in the future. We felt very welcomed and comfortable connecting with these students, and were impressed by their willingness to display their affection towards us.
We ended our visit with a tour of VNUF’s pride and joy, their forest. This man-made forest has taken them over 30 years of cultivation and provides a beautiful setting for their university’s research. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to VNUF, and are excited about CSU’s potential future partnerships with them. It was rewarding to see the connections between VNUF and CSU in our agricultural routes, and After exchanging gifts, we boarded the bus back to Hanoi, and look forward to a night of water puppetry.
-Kayla Cothrun and Andrea Santillan