U.S.-Vietnam Environmental Exchange

Vietnam Embassy

U.S.-Vietnam Environmental Exchange

A High School Youth Exchange in Celebration of the 25th Anniversary of U.S. – Vietnam Bilateral Relations:

Shared Environmental Issues Facing Vietnam and Montana

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  • Slide Title: Climate Change in Vietnam Slideshow Slide Caption:
  • Slide Title: Climate Change in Vietnam Slideshow Slide Caption:
  • Slide Title: Climate Change in Vietnam Slideshow Slide Caption:
  • Slide Title: Climate Change in Vietnam Slideshow Slide Caption:
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In celebration of the 25th anniversary of normalized relations between the U.S. and Vietnam, the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam is sponsoring an Exchange on Global Environmental Issues for 25 high school students, from each the U.S. and Vietnam. The focus is shared environmental and natural resource issues between the two countries, interwoven with cultural exchange.

This program includes three components:

  • A virtual exchange from January-June 2021. This includes small groups based on common interests (for example, climate change, recycling, water usage, food security). Groups will work together on small projects, in both Missoula and Vietnam.

  • Hosting Vietnamese students in Missoula in June 2021 (COVID-19 permitting; may be delayed to June 2022)

  • Traveling to Vietnam in July 2021 (COVID-19 permitting; may be delayed to July 2022)

Please note that the program is completely free to participants other than the cost of a personal passport and travel immunizations. If these costs are a barrier to participation, students are welcome to apply for financial aid.

Program Goals

  • Celebrate shared interests between American and Vietnamese youth in commemoration of the anniversary of bilateral relations.

  • Develop cultural competencies and a sense of global citizenship in youth through collaborative exploration of respective cultures and societies.

  • Explore environmental issues in the context of a globalized society, drawing comparisons between Vietnam and the U.S.

  • Develop, refine, and demonstrate leadership by engaging in dialogue, collaboration, negotiation, and project development.

Program Description

Twenty-five students and two teachers from Missoula were selected by the Mansfield Center to participate in this program. The program begins with a virtual exchange, including orientations to the program, to one another, and to issues of society and culture in each country. The group will then learn from thematic experts drawn from University of Montana faculty and Vietnamese professionals. The group will also be supported by the participating high school teachers from Missoula and Vietnam. Participants will learn about environmental issues facing each country, with opportunity to compare situations in each country. The exchange will culminate in joint projects and short presentations by small groups. The entire exchange will maximize direct engagement between students in synchronous and asynchronous formats.

The Exchange will promote issues of cultural diversity while comparing complex environmental issues that will directly affect the youth participants. In a state that has minimal opportunity for international engagement, Montana students will gain the unique experience of exposure to another culture while engaging with English language learners.  Vietnamese students will strengthen their capacity to communicate in English, while gaining the opportunity for supplementary language instruction to build confidence and proficiency in lessons with the UM English Language Institute. 

Tentative Timeline

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in eight virtual sessions together with Vietnamese students, generally held Friday evenings between January-June 2021.

  • Take part in four asynchronous modules to build on issues in environment and natural resource issues to supplement the synchronous meetings. Modules might include: Native American resource preservation and a discussion of protected areas, dams and river impacts, and youth education; civic engagement and youth leadership in natural resource development; stakeholders in environmental police development; public-private partnerships in natural resource development.

  • Support the visit of the Vietnamese students, tentatively scheduled for June 19 – July 3, 2021. This means that committing to meeting and learning with the Vietnamese students for at least six sessions during their Missoula dates of June 19-23 and June 27-29. This will include participating in academic sessions and introducing them to things you love about Missoula, and potentially hosting a small group of students to lunch in your home or a picnic outdoors.

  • Traveling to Vietnam July 17-29, for a 12-night stay in three different sites across Vietnam. You will experience both urban and rural areas of Vietnam.

Academic Director: Dr. Nicky Phear

As the Academic Director for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academic Fellows exchange, Dr. Phear mentors emerging leaders to develop initiatives that address shared environmental challenges across Southeast Asia. She creates additional opportunities for youth leaders from Montana to exchange perspectives, ideas, and solutions to global environmental challenges. She was the founding director of the University of Montana’s Climate Change Studies Program, a minor degree program that offers students a multidisciplinary understanding of climate change and involves them in developing solutions. Phear has traveled to Vietnam multiple times as the leader of a climate change study abroad course in the Mekong Delta, in partnership with Can Tho University.

Program Manager: Heidi Blair

Heidi manages the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) academic fellowship on Environmental Issues & Natural Resource Management and the Sports Diplomacy: Sport for Social Change programs in Latin America. She holds a master’s degree in Resource Conservation with specialization in International Conservation and Development from the University of Montana, as well as a graduate certificate in National Resources Conflict Resolution from UM. Her bachelor’s degree is in Latin American Studies.

Please contact Mansfield Center Program Manager Heidi Blair at heidi.blair@umontana.edu with any questions.