Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai addresses a luncheon during a meeting with political and business leaders at the Westin Hotel June 24, 2005 in Boston, Massachusetts. [Image Source: Darren McCollester/Getty Images]

“Vietnam: A Country, Not a War”

ASEAN The Mekong

Last month, Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust spent four days of her Southeast Asia trip in Vietnam to discuss education cooperation with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc as well as university faculty, students, and staff, to promote Harvard’s global impact. A historian on war and civil war, Professor Faust gave a lecture at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (USSH) on the American Civil War, and emphasized the effects of historical events — including the Vietnam War — that define generations of Americans, including herself. Professor Faust also visited Fulbright University Vietnam (FUV), a nonprofit university established on the contribution of the Vietnamese and US governments. FUV was a concept developed from the Fulbright Economic Teaching Program (FETP), a center of public policy research and teaching, and was implemented as the result of a partnership between the Harvard Kennedy School and the University of Economics in Ho Chi Minh City that began in 1994. During her visit, Professor Faust signed a memorandum with FUV to explore collaborative opportunities in public policy teaching, research, and related areas.

Harvard’s efforts in continuing and expanding educational cooperation are well received by the government of Vietnam. Prime Minister Phuc underlined the importance of education quality in the development of the country, supporting collaboration efforts between the Ivy League School and Vietnamese educational institutions. The Prime Minister has already met with Harvard President Faust and Professor Thomas Valleyly this year to show interest in further educational cooperation with the United States.

Since 1991, USSH has sent 60 staff to Harvard University to study. Currently, Harvard is hosting 16 students among 21,403 Vietnamese students studying in the United States in 2016. Vietnam is in the top 6 countries that send students to the United States, which is also the second most popular destination — after Australia — for Vietnamese students studying abroad.

Anh Pham is a Research Intern at the East West Center in Washington, DC and Master's Candidate in International Affairs at the School of International Service, American University.