Twenty-six international students from RMIT Melbourne have spent three weeks engaged in the first ever Culture & Context in Vietnam course hosted by RMIT Vietnam.
The course, which aimed to foster student mobility and develop global and intercultural competencies, marked the first time an immersive program of this nature has been offered at RMIT Vietnam.
Participating pharmacy student Chariot Chan, originally from Singapore, expressed what he felt were the obvious benefits of the course.
“If you come here as a tourist or on your own, you only get the first layer of what Vietnam is, but with this contextual model of study, everything helps us understand the culture at a deeper level,” he said.
Featuring a range of off-campus, experiential modules, including visiting the Mekong Delta and other significant industry sites, students were asked to present inquiry-based findings on a particular aspect of Vietnamese culture – be it business, family or whatever they thought best applied to their core subjects of study. They also submitted a critical incident narrative on a new-arrival experience they had, and will later write critical reflection reports rooted in the intercultural competence theory they learned.
In the context of the so-called Asian century, Master of Marketing student John Forest hinted at the potential implications of the course, and called his decision to take part a ‘no-brainer’.
“I think in order for a developing country to go further, you need more entrepreneurs” he began, “and in my field, where there are start-ups looking to engage with experienced, qualified people, it makes sense that I would want to experience this culture first-hand.”
Excited about the positive informal feedback she had already received halfway through the course, RMIT Vietnam Learning and Teaching Manager, and course coordinator Catherine Peck, said that today’s graduates need to be exposed to different types of learning and to be able to explicitly deal with diversity.
“The great thing about a course like this,” she said, “is that it is interdisciplinary and explicitly fosters student development of cultural awareness and intercultural competence and global citizenship.”
“The fact that it occurs in an environment like this, where students can have first-hand experience to reflect on and work into their learning cycle, is quite remarkable.”
The visit by the RMIT Melbourne students was part of the University’s Global Summer Program which also saw eight RMIT Vietnam students study in Barcelona, Spain. Another twenty-nine RMIT Vietnam students will travel to Melbourne later this month.
Story: Jon Aspin