During the spring 2014 semester, Louann Cummings, DM, CPA, professor of business at UF, traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam, as a Fulbright Scholar, working in the International School of Management and Economics (ISME) at the National Economics University (NEU). Cummings applied for the Fulbright Scholar program after visiting the country in 2011 through the UF-USSH Faculty Exchange Scholar program. Read the announcement here.
The primary goal of the Fulbright Scholar program is to give professionals like Cummings a full cultural immersion experience and the opportunity to serve as cultural ambassadors for the United States. Cummings and her husband, Paul, were in Vietnam for five months. “What I’ve learned and will be bringing back to the classroom couldn’t happen any other way,” she said. “The more we, as faculty, can do to take advantage of opportunities such as this, the better our students can be served.”
At NEU, Cummings taught both introductory (Managing Financial Resources and Decisions) and specialized (Financial Accounting and Reporting) accounting/finance courses. The classes were held on campus, however, Cummings did arrange for the students there to experience an online class for the first time. Working with staff members in Vietnam and staff members at UF, Cummings organized the online class using UF’s Blackboard Collaborate.
Cummings also formed a philanthropic accounting club, the members of which she described as “the stars in the classroom.” Paul was teaching English at a start-up business, Omamori Spa, which trains the visually impaired to be masseurs. The business provided a venue for the students to engage in a hands-on service-learning experience.
The accounting club used a collection of data provided by the spa owner to put together financial statements, break-even analysis and other helpful financial reports. The owner’s goal is to make each employee an equity owner; she wants them to understand the finances and what that means. Cummings identified language translation as one of the biggest challenges of the project. Cummings is continuing to work with the spa owner and the club members via email and Skype.
Like many institutions in the U.S., those in Vietnam are beginning to undergo things like academic portfolio review and assessment. Because Cummings had been involved with many similar projects at UF, she was able to share what Findlay has done in order to help administrators in Vietnam.
“The Vietnamese people are so resilient and resourceful,” said Cummings. “They showered us with kindness, hospitality and food and embraced us and welcomed us in ways that were beyond imaginable. They were so gracious, and the smiles I received time after time melted me.”
Cummings plans to return to Vietnam in the near future and encourages students, faculty and staff to take advantage of travel opportunities as much as possible.
“It was truly a life changing experience,” said Cummings. “I have a deep gratitude that I was able to have this experience through the Fulbright Scholar program.”