Dallas Smith’s parents are pretty amazed at their globetrotting son. From Defiance, Ohio, Smith doesn’t have the typical background of a world traveler.
As a student in UF’s College of Pharmacy, Smith decided early on that he and his peers should have the opportunity to serve others while experiencing the world outside of the U.S. Midwest. He helped found Oilers Serving Abroad in 2011, and has logged seven trips to the Dominican Republic for service projects. During winter break in 2014, he expanded his global reach by travelling with Chandra Sekar, Ph.D., professor of pharmacy practices, on a month-long voluntary rotation in India.
Now, he’s packing his bags for yet another life-changing trip; this time to Vietnam.
As a graduate research assistant for Louann Cummings, DM, professor of business, Smith is helping coordinate the first Vietnam Scholars program for launch in spring 2016. The program is an outgrowth of two other successful “Scholars” programs in London and Florence.
This will be Cummings’ fourth trip to Vietnam, which she calls a country of “fullness and beauty.” Formerly, she has travelled there as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar, teaching at a university in Hanoi; as a member of an exchange organized by Hiroaki Kawamura, Ph.D., chair of the Language and Culture Department; and this past spring on a planning trip for the Vietnam Scholars Program.
“No two cities in Vietnam are alike,” said Cummings. “I think of it as a country of both brokenness and beauty. It’s a very old country with a young population. It’s becoming a player in international markets, yet there is still a need for some basic services. “
The first step for students wishing to travel to Vietnam from May 3-22, 2016 is to enroll in Cummings’ ECON199 (Introduction to Economic Theory) class for spring semester. Don’t let the prefix intimidate you. Although there will be a focus on economics and business, Cummings said that non-business majors will feel comfortable with the class content. Regarding the culminating Vietnam trip, she added that, “Vietnam has opportunities for so many professions. . . healthcare, artists, accountants. Students from all majors will find something about which they are passionate.”
The plane landing in Hanoi on May 3, 2016 will be the start of an interesting, eclectic and fast-paced trip. In the capital city through May 15, the UF contingent will visit museums, hear a lecture on Vietnam’s Economic Index, visit the US Embassy, get an insider’s view of two large corporations and tour the Hoa Binh Hydro Power Plant.
On May 16, the group will take a night train to Sapa, a city with a different ethnic minority where farmers still use water buffaloes. In Sapa, students will stay with a local family and also learn something about growing rice.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the journey will be a day trip to Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Site and tourist destination. Cummings calls Halong Bay a “marvel,” and a fitting end to the trip. Return to the U.S. is scheduled for May 22.
“I want to emphasize that we will not be tourists on this trip,” Cummings added. “We will meet with knowledge experts in several areas and students will have ‘buddies’ to help them become more immersed in the culture.”
Although no fees have to be paid until 60 days prior to departure, Cummings would like an informal “registration” by mid-October (during spring 2016 registration) to get an idea of the level of interest. For more information, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dallas Smith at email@example.com