Dr. Greg Obi, Ohio University Chillicothe’s Assistant Professor of Business Technology, was one of 16 Ohio University faculty and staff who participated in OHIO’s 2019 Global Connections. Global Connections is an initiative developed by OHIO to expose faculty, staff, and students to the international world.
This year’s group traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Chaing Mai, Thailand touring universities and business corporations as well as participating in several cultural explorations geared towards service in both countries. The group departed May 11 and returned to the U.S. on May 25.
While on the trip Obi was reminded of how privileged we are here in the U.S. Obi commented, “I can’t help but appreciate how blessed we are. Someone with a college degree in Vietnam and Thailand is lucky to make $500 a month. For us in the U.S., that wouldn’t afford us much.”
On a professional level, Obi is looking forward to using his experience in his teachings by putting things in perspective for his students. “I like to use the term, Glocal Thinking,” remarked Obi. “Which is the idea that we’re all connected. People in foreign countries, especially developing economies, are making products for us that we can easily afford whereas they can’t normally afford them. For us these items represent inexpensive cost-saving items, whereas the folks who produce these items cannot even afford to buy them since in their own economies these are expensive products which their “meager” pay cannot buy. We don’t think about it much, but many of our daily house-hold items are typically made outside the U.S.”
During his visits at University of Economics and RMIT University (both in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam), as well as Chiang Mai University in Thailand, Obi realized that we as regional campuses have an opportunity to expand our recruitment area and focus on targeting international students by providing opportunity for good quality education, which is not that plentiful in many developing nations, like Vietnam and Thailand.
Obi stated, “OHIO regionals have a niche market overseas because education is very highly emphasized in both Vietnam and Thailand. Unfortunately, both countries have only limited number of universities, hence there is stiff competition to gain admission into the few universities. Parents, who typically pay tuition fees, resort to sending their children overseas for university education. At various meet and greet and recruitment events in both countries, parents mostly complained of the high cost of their children living in college dormitories here in the U.S., hence some of them send their children to two-year colleges where their can live off-campus at a lower cost and then transfer to “bigger” universities to complete their bachelor’s degree.”
Obi further observed that OHIO regional campuses can fill this gap created by high costs of residential campus living.
According to Obi, general education is somewhat “siloed” in Thailand and almost nonexistent in Vietnam. Due to the high emphasis on “professional education”, programs have been developed with less emphasis on liberal arts and more focused on core professional disciplines. In return, change of majors don’t normally occur because parents can’t afford any additional costs for education. Generally, parents decide their child’s area of study since they are the one’s typically paying for their tuition and fees.
Aside from conducting business on the trip, the group toured Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta Region in Southwest Vietnam, attended cooking classes in Vietnam and Thailand, and took part in various service projects in Thailand at the Kanta Elephant Sanctuary and Elephant Parade, both elephant rescues.
At Elephant Parade, for donations the team members were given the task of painting their own “limited edition” elephants. Obi named his elephant “Bridges”, which is composed of the USA Flag in front, OHIO emblem in the middle, and Thailand Flag at the back. According to him, his elephant is in honor of the work OHIO is doing in Thailand. He observed that by providing education to Thai Nationals (OHIO has a vast Alumni Association in Thailand), OHIO is building bridges between the USA and Thailand. Video footage of the trip may be viewed on the Abroader – Student Exchange Vietnam YouTube channel.
For questions about the Global Connections Series or information about future participation, please visit the Office of Global Connections webpage.
2019 Global Connections group standing in front of Chiang Mai University's ancient ceremonial degree awarding hall
2019 Global Connections group standing in front of the Saigon Opera House in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Feeding elephants at the Kanta Elephant Sanctuary
Obi enjoys a fresh cocunut drink at Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam
Obi in a boat along the Mekong Delta River in Vietnam
Obi and fellow colleagues participating in the Vietnamese cooking class and competition
Obi painting his limited-edition elephant "Bridges" in a painting workshop at Elephant Parade in Thailand.
Obi's limited-edition elephant “Bridges.”