Study Abroad in Vietnam

Learn How Students Can Play a Positive Role in Community Development

Study abroad in Vietnam & learn from local residents.

Written By Ashley Hollenbeck

I came to the Institute for Village Studies because I believe study abroad and community development are not mutually exclusive. Together they can have a transformative impact. This is evident in Vietnam where I have worked with local stakeholders over the last five years to create an innovative fieldwork program based on the tenets of asset-based community development (ABCD). Instead of focusing on a community’s needs and problems, we teach students strategies to work with local people and uncover strengths and assets to support more sustainable development. In doing so, our goal is to create more resilient communities that value their local heritage, while protecting the fundamental web of cultural and environmental threads that have held society together for centuries.  

This project started as an international education program to bring together university students from different countries in Asia. However, the curriculum proved to be so valuable that professionals from local government agencies, NGOs and community organizations often request to take part. To date, 79 students and 41 professionals, including, university faculty, NGO staff, and government officials, have completed the program, directly impacting the work of eight organizations. Government departments have institutionalized the principles of ABCD and successfully implemented projects, while students and community groups have used the framework to bring local stakeholders together to work towards a shared vision.

Study Abroad with IVS in Vietnam

This year we are proud to announce that we will re-launch the program with IVS! On my visit to Vietnam last month IVS and the University of Da Nang – University of Science and Education formalized our partnership through an MOU (memorandum of understanding) signing ceremony. Our goal is to ensure students from Vietnam continue to take part in IVS programs, and that the curriculum we use is guided by local faculty, government officials and community groups. Taking this vital step will ensure this program is radically different than anything currently offered in international education.

Over the coming weeks, I will share some highlights of this unique program, including, successful projects that have embraced the ABCD methodology, inspirational change-makers that make this program a reality, and exciting opportunities to get involved in IVS’s work. If you’re interested in learning more or traveling with us to Vietnam this summer, check out our study abroad and travel programs.