24 Students sent to Vietnam for the 15th START Program

From March 3, 2014 until March 17, for a period of two weeks, 24 undergraduate first-year students took part in the 15th START Program *. Led by Professor Takao Yao (Graduate School of Letters) and 2 other faculty members, the students visited the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City (USSH) – and its surroundings in Ho Chi Minh City.

Aside from the lectures students attended at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities held in English by local teachers on Ho Chi Minh City’s history, culture and economy and international issues and introductory lessons on Vietnamese, participants were guided by local Vietnamese students to a museum on history and war and the Former South Vietnam Presidential Palace, went to a sewage treatment plant and an industrial complex and talked with people working at Japanese enterprises. In addition, they had the opportunity to view facilities outside campus and had contact with local residents by making a home visit and going to a street children protection center. They also experienced Vietnam’s nature and history by seeing the Mangrove River and the Cu Chi Tunnel located on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, and had exchange with members of the Tonichi Club, who study about Japan. These activities became an opportunity for self-reflection as the participants were impressed by the Vietnamese students’ enthusiasm for learning and fluent Japanese, and became aware of different views on war and peace due to different historical backgrounds and other social circumstances.

At first, the students were surprised by the overwhelming number of motorbikes, but after two weeks they gradually toughened up from exposure to different values than in Japan, and got used to the new environment. When it came time for them to return home, they were filled with a desire to face new challenges in their student lives. Among the group were those students who planned to work and be active abroad or had made up their minds to study abroad in the future and so were grateful to have been given this valuable opportunity.

* The START Program provides first year students who have little overseas experience the opportunity to attend lectures and see everyday life at a foreign partner university in order to raise interest in international/cross-cultural activities and studying abroad. It was established in 2010 and by the end of the academic year 2012, it has already been held 10 times. This time the 15th program was held in Vietnam following the Taiwanese, Indonesian and Australian programs held in the first semester of the academic year 2013 and the American, Vietnamese and New Zealand programs held in the second semester of the same year. The Hiroshima University Fund financially supports part of the research expenses to lessen the students’ economic burden and to give to a broader population of students the opportunity of studying abroad. The participants went to study abroad after a 2-month training period before departure. Back in Japan, they had a follow-up session.

Students cross a road full of bikes

Glimpse into a Vietnamese language class

HU students talking to a local student who guided around

the Former South Vietnam Presidential Palace

A student asks a question in the history class

HU students exchange with Tonichi Club students

Presentation of the discussion on peace


International Exchange Group,

Education and International Office,

Hiroshima University



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