Indiana University Aquatics Institute Director Bill Ramos joined Swim for Life Vietnam, a drowning prevention program, in April. Swim for Life Vietnam, a program under the international nongovernmental organization Golden West Humanitarian Foundation, teaches elementary school students water safety and swimming skills. Every day 11 children drown in Vietnam; the program has reached over 72,000 children in the past two years. Ramos supplements Swim for Life Vietnam’s academic research branch by traveling to Vietnam and evaluating the program’s effectiveness. His involvement will help garner support for the organization from groups like the World Health Organization, Vietnam National University, and the Vietnam Ministry of Health.
IU has a rich history of volunteering and academic exchanges with Vietnam. The university’s Coach for College program, established in 2015, sends student athletes to teach academics and sports in disadvantaged schools in Vietnam. In January, the university’s McKinney School of Law joined Vietnam National University in hosting a conference on intellectual property. The university’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) and Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training co-sponsor the Vietnam Young Leader Awards, awarding outstanding Vietnamese state employees and researchers full scholarships to SPEA’s graduate program. SPEA also houses the Vietnam Initiative, a think tank that conducts research and training in Vietnam development policy. In addition, Professor Ernest Talarico, Jr. of the IU School of Medicine lectured at several Vietnamese medical schools in April, teaching anatomy and problem-based solving to medical students.
The United States is an increasingly popular destination for Vietnamese students. There are more than 21,000 Vietnamese students enrolled in US institutions, and they contribute more than $919 million to the US economy. Vietnam is currently the 6th largest sending country for international students in the United States, moving up from 9th place in 2015.
IU’s participation in Swim for Life Vietnam is part of a larger trend that emphasizes US-Vietnam relations. In February, the Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States Pham Quang Vinh visited Maryland and expressed hopes of stronger ties between the two regions. Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust recently visited Fulbright University Vietnam and signed a memorandum to explore further collaborative opportunities.
Genna Liu is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a government and economics student at Dartmouth College.