24 Students sent to Vietnam for the 22nd START Program

From March 5 until March 19 2015, for a period of two weeks, 24 undergraduate first-year students took part in the 22nd START Program *. Led by Assistant Professor Asami Ogura (Institute for Peace Science) 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.

At the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, the participants attended the lectures on “Vietnamese language”, “society and culture”, “history” and “economic development” of Vietnam, in addition to “relations between Japan and Vietnam” held by local teachers in English. At first, the students were bewildered in an unfamiliar learning environment taught in English. However, many of them asked questions with a positive attitude. When the participants visited the Ho Chi Minh City University of Natural Resources and Environment, they engaged in discussion with Vietnamese students in English on student life, difference between the methods for garbage disposal of Japan and Vietnam, and on world peace.

Aside from lectures, the participants were guided by USSH students to a museum on history and war and the Former South Vietnam Presidential Palace. Here, they interacted with members of the Tonichi Club, consisted of people dedicated to studying about Japan. Furthermore, they visited an industrial complex and Japanese enterprises and talked with Japanese people working there. As they had the opportunity to talk with not only local students but also people currently active overseas, some of them began to think seriously about working overseas while others made a decision to study abroad in the future. In Addition, they went on home stay, visited an orphanage, a mangrove forest, the Cu Chi tunnels and AEON Mall. The students were able to feel the natural surroundings, history and economic development of Vietnam, learning a lot from the experience.

At first, the participants were puzzled by the unfamiliar lifestyle, culture and eating habits, but gradually accustomed to the local environment. Being exposed to and accepting different values, they have matured exponentially. Aside from learning about Vietnam, many of the students received a lot of stimulation through the program, with opportunity for self-reflection and talks of their future. After returning home, they had a follow-up session where they thanked for learning opportunity, and expressed their determination to take on more challenges in their student life. Many of the students were particularly impressed with the incentive to learning, fluent Japanese and English, and specialized knowledge of the local students, and were eager to increase their specialist knowledge as well as international communication skills by attending international exchange activities and overseas study programs.

Visiting Reunification Palace (the Former South Vietnam

Presidential Palace)

Lesson on Vietnamese language

Listening explanation of the Vietnamese student at

War Remnants Museum

Asking a question at the class on Vietnamese

economic development

Discussion on peace

Exchange with students at Tonichi Club

* 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 first semester of 2014, it has already been held 19 times. This time the 22nd program was held in Vietnam following the American, Vietnamese, New Zealand, Taiwanese and Australian programs held in the second semester of the academic year 2014. The Hiroshima University Fund financially supports part of the research expenses to lessen students’ economic burden and to give a broader population of students the opportunity to study abroad. The participants went to study abroad following a 2-month training period before departure. Back in Japan, they had a follow-up session.


International Exchange Group,

Education and International Office,

Hiroshima University



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