Students in the Global Leadership Center confer with students at Nha Trang University via Skype.
Photographer: Ngan Nguyen
Clad in traditional Vietnamese dress, GLC scholar Claudia Ludi presents on behalf of her team at the 2010 International Collaborative Consulting Project in Nha Trang, Vietnam.
Photographer: Anh Pham
GLC Director Greg Emery presents an Ohio University banner to Nha Trang University's Le Van Hao at the 2010 International Collaborative Consulting Project presentations in Nha Trang, Vietnam.
Photographer: Anh Pham
Dec 30, 2010
By Monica Chapman
Twenty-six students in Ohio University’s Global Leadership Center (GLC) spent the winter intersession hard at work. Not at mall stores or shoveling snow, but half a world away honing their leadership skills as consultants to international corporations.
From Nov. 26 to Dec. 13, the students traveled to Vietnam to complete research conducted in cooperation with students from Nha Trang University’s (NTU) College of Business and Economics. The work was part of the GLC’s International Collaborative Consulting Project, through which OHIO students provide real-world consulting services to businesses abroad.
In addition to the trip’s academic focus, GLC Director Greg Emery said the experience helped to break down stereotypes formed in the wake of the U.S.-Vietnam conflict.
“While U.S. troops left Vietnam over 35 years ago, Vietnam and the Vietnam War still seem to hold a complicated place in the American psyche,” Emery said. “Thus, in addition to the immense academic and cross-cultural opportunities offered to the GLC and NTU students, the project helped in a small (though very concrete) way to rebuild bridges between the USA and Vietnam.”
“Moreover, GLC and NTU students have now established personal and professional relationships that will likely last a lifetime,” he added.
Throughout fall quarter, eight teams of students (comprising GLC students and NTU students) conducted market research for eight Nha Trang businesses. These businesses included hotels and resorts, aquaculture enterprises, banks, home products retailers and a TV station conglomerate.
Students communicated throughout the quarter using SKYPE video conferencing, Facebook and e-mail. Once in Vietnam, the students had the chance to meet their teammates and NTU faulty advisors face-to-face for the first time. Together, they finalized outstanding research issues by conducting surveys and visiting the clients’ headquarters, among other means.
Student teams also produced executive summaries and made final presentations in both English and Vietnamese to their clients.
GLC scholar Christopher Myers, who worked for Vietnam’s largest private bank, said the bilingual exchanges helped him to fine-tune his communication skills.
“I learned to make my words impeccable--to mean what I say and say what I mean,” he explained.
For GLC scholar Claudia Ludi, the cultural experience trumped all else.
“I think there is only so much you can learn in the classroom,” she said. “You have to be able to reach out and open your mind to the people and the culture to take it all in.”
The project also provided a unique learning experience for Vietnamese students, according to NTU faculty member Ngan Nguyen. Nguyen, who accompanied OHIO students on the trip, currently serves as a GLC teaching assistant while working toward a doctoral degree through OHIO’s Cultural Studies in Education program.
“There are many foreigners coming to Nha Trang, but not many coming with an academic exchange purpose like the GLC did,” said Nguyen. “This rare international encounter undoubtedly has a great impact on Vietnamese students’ thinking as well as community life.”
Among other benefits, Nguyen said students have gained new perspectives, increased cross-cultural communication skills and refined skills related to decision-making, problem solving and research. An added advantage is the lasting international friendships that were forged during the trip, she said.
In addition to the academic components of the International Collaborative Consulting Project, the GLC and NTU students travelled to Dalat, Vietnam – a former French “hill station” – for a weekend cultural excursion that included visits to the night market and French style cafés.
The trip concluded with a weekend in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. There, among other things, students visited the War Remnants Museum, which primarily contains exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War.
“Going on this trip I wasn't sure I would be able to connect with others who lived on the other side of the world,” said Ludi. “But this experience surprised me because by the end of the two weeks I was so sad to leave my new friends, who had similar motivations and aspirations as I.”