Xin chào!

In my last blog entry I’ve already mentioned that we were going on the first field trip. The purpose of field trips is to link our studies to examples of the Vietnamese reality. Especially in the case of development studies, there are several projects you can visit that are linked to issues of development.

Although Vietnam is a fast developing country, there are still many areas that are very rural and people living a simple life and have to fight poverty. Especially minorities are facing issues within this growing economy and are often confronted with poverty, insecurity and other problems linked to a lack of education and participation within the political system.

There are 54 minorities in Vietnam and half of the students of the development course visited one of them on Saturday. We drove about 2,5 hours in the direction of the Lao boarder in order to stay one day and one night at one of the villages of the Co Tu minority. We were welcomed by the chief of the village and were able to ask questions about development related topics. We learned about the population of the village, the progresses during the last few years and the challenges this minority is still struggling with. Visiting minority villages is getting more and more part of tourism in Vietnam. Therefore, we shouldn’t have been surprised to find out that we wouldn’t visit a very rural area but more or less a quite touristy place. However, if you are honestly there are hardly any unexplored villages left and therefore this minority village was a good example to see the effects of tourism on the development of minorities (which is in fact a really interesting topic within the area of development studies). Tourism offers a further main pillar and is now an important part of the village income. After the Q&A session we had some time to explore the village and get in touch with the locals.

As our Vietnamese is still quite basic, the easiest way in order to overcome language barriers was through games – therefore, we played football with the local boys and the girls taught us some games they are playing in their free time. It was very good that playing catch and hopscotch are known internationally so explaining the rules was not necessary.

In the evening, we had a delicious traditional Vietnamese dinner with different vegetables, meet and sticky rice – and during the first weeks nearly everyone has improved his ability to eat with chopsticks without dropping every other bite. We were able to spend the nights in a home stay with a local family or in the assembly hall and the next day we went back to Hoi An. It was very nice to leave Hoi An for a day in order to see the country side and a different way of living in the rural area. However, it was also nice to come back to “our” Hoi An – where we already feel quite at home.

Greetings from lovely Hoi An,