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Hendrix in Vietnam

CONWAY, Ark. (August 15, 2013) – Eight Hendrix students spent two and a half weeks in Vietnam this summer.

Student participants included:

  • Laura Klasek ’13 from St. Louis, Mo.
  • Anvesh Kompelli ’14 from Shreveport, La.
  • Giang "Gaby" Le ’14 from Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Andrew LeMay ’15 from Little Rock, Ark.
  • Van Phung ’14 from Maumelle, Ark.
  • Kate Skorija ’14 from Kansas City, Mo.
  • Annie Slattery ’14 from New Orleans, La.
  • Allison Tschiemer ’13 from Dallas, Texas

The students were accompanied by anthropology professor Dr. Anne Goldberg, photography professor Maxine Payne, and English professor Dr. Alex Vernon. Vernon holds the Bost Odyssey Professorship, which provides support for faculty development and projects that expand engaged learning opportunities in Asian studies for Hendrix students.

Three Vietnamese undergraduate students and one Vietnamese trip coordinator accompanied the Hendrix group for the entire journey.

The purpose of the trip was for students to get a general sense of contemporary Vietnam, Vernon said. Six of the eight students took Vernon’s Vietnam and Literary Imagination course, which he taught in the spring 2013 semester.

The group spent the first week in Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam, where they heard lectures on the agricultural economy, environmental and women’s issues from Vietnamese educators.

They spent a day at the National Film Institute, where they learned about the beginnings of the Vietnamese film industry and met with some of the country’s early actors and producers. They also toured the film archives and saw some of the original film equipment.

In Ho Chi Minh, the students visited several art galleries and met with writers who discussed the current literary scene in Vietnam.

After Ho Chi Minh, the group toured Hue in central Vietnam for a couple of days and heard lectures on the history and challenges of the country’s central region.

In the second week, they stayed at a commune north of the 17th parallel. The region was the focus of several wartime documentaries that depicted the challenge residents living underground trying to farm while being bombed.

The group met women’s union leaders and conducted household interviews of area residents. They also performed humanitarian work. Mixing concrete and carrying bricks, they built a toilet for a local nursery.

Dr. Goldberg and Professor Payne continued their ongoing collaborative ethnographic and photographic research on women in rural areas. The two faculty members have conducted similar research in the United States, Costa Rica, Tanzania, and along the U.S. – Mexican border.

Students on the trip will complete a collaborative writing project on issues in Vietnam they are interested in and observed on the trip, Vernon said. The project could ultimately be an online journal, similar to “The Treatment” online magazine that another group of Hendrix students completed in the spring.

The Vietnam experience was particularly meaningful to Van Phung, a Vietnamese-American student from Maumelle, Ark.

“Learning about a variety of different topics from environmental issues, gender and women’s issues, to the education system of Vietnam was academically meaningful because I gained an understanding of just how truly different things are in comparison to these same issues in America, as well as the priority each country makes in taking measures toward these issues to change them for the better,” said Phung.


“Being Vietnamese-American and culturally immersed in Vietnam, I have come to find out a lot about myself and gained a better understanding of a beautiful country that I identify so much with,” she said. “Growing up, my parents seldom told me stories about their experiences with living in Vietnam … We now talk about Vietnam all the time; everything from the food, the sights, the war, the language, etc. I also got the opportunity to stay in Vietnam a little longer to be reunited with my family that I have not seen in 15 years, and that was undeniably the most personally meaningful part of the trip for me.”


Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the fifth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Hendrix is featured in the 2012 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country’s best 377 colleges, the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, Forbes magazine's annual list of America's Top 650 Colleges, and the 2013 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit