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Winter Term business course takes students to Vietnam

Elon students traveled to Vietnam as part of a winter term study abroad course, “Business and Culture of Vietnam.”

Students and restaurant workers at the Bread of Life Restaurant.

The course, led by Betsy Stevens, associate professor of business communications, and Yilun Shi, assistant professor of finance, focused on the business of multinational companies, religious life and the booming hospitality industry of Vietnam.

The course took students to five different cities in Vietnam and explored how the culturally-rich country developed politically and economically after the Vietnam War. Notably, the students visited the Kaiser Furniture factory in Ho Chi Minh City, which manufactures furniture for export to the U.S. and is managed by two former North Carolina residents.

“Traveling to Vietnam was a lot of fun, but it was also a unique and eye-opening educational experience,” said Oliver Frey ’13. “The hands-on, in-person experiences we had with the Vietnamese people and their businesses were what taught us the most. Getting a firsthand look at the culture and business practices in a country as different from the U.S. as Vietnam was invaluable, and there is no way we could have learned as much as we did from inside a classroom at Elon.”

Students stayed in the northern capital city of Hanoi for some of the trip where they gained insight of the daily lives of native Vietnamese citizens and then traveled to a National Heritage site in Halong Bay, where they took a cruise around the Bay. The students also visited the historical sites of the Cham museum and Marble Mountains in Danang. They had lunch and an unexpected tour from the manager of The Bread of Life restaurant, who educated the class about the lack of opportunities given to the disabled in Vietnam. The class then traveled to the ancient city of Hoi An, Nha Trang, and ended their trip in the southern city of Ho Chi Minh City.

“The experience we gained living and traveling in Vietnam for three weeks is invaluable,” said Trevor Cummings ’13. “You don't realize how privileged you are until you visit a third world country and interact with people who have absolutely no aspirations besides trying to survive and feed their family on a daily basis. It doesn't matter how hard you work in third world countries, it is near impossible to elevate your status. If you work hard in the United States you can be successful in all your endeavors.”

Alyssa Baxter,
2/6/2013 3:52 PM