Reflections about the Women & Leadership program in Vietnam

by Nicola Mountain (Active Zonta Member & Accommodation Business Tutor)
The Global Engagement Institute (GEI) Executive Director, Michael Grosspietsch started the day by introducing the team and gave an overview of the week’s program. Then we set off on a very interesting tour of the city. Hui, GEI Associate, one of the Vietnamese Boat people who had left Vietnam as a child and returned as an adult, led this walking tour and showed us behind the scenes of Ho Chi Minh City, starting with the street market in District 4, one of the poorer districts, where we sampled local fruit and sugar cane juice and saw many varied stalls selling everything the community needs, from clothes to fresh meat and fish.

We traveled to District 3 by our tour bus, where we met Hui’s wife’s uncle, Nhan, who showed us a memorial marking the place where a Buddhist Monk immolated himself in 1963 in protest against Buddhist oppression. Nhan took us around his area, including a very colorful temple and then down a narrow street to his home where his wife and family had prepared us the most delicious lunch. After lunch Nahn showed us his beautiful new many storied house and then we had a choice of activity: some of us went for a relaxing hair wash and massage while others enjoyed more exploring or Vietnamese coffee in a local cafe!


We went back to the hotel for a rest before heading to Hoa Sen University for thought-provoking presentations and discussions about gender issues. After the introductions, the University’s President, Prof Bui Tran Phuong, gave a presentation entitled, “Vietnamese Women from Tradition to Modernity” and Delegation Leader, Prof Shirley Randell spoke about the situation of women in Rwanda.

This varied and interesting day concluded with a lovely meal in a vibrant, colorful Vietnamese restaurant where we had further opportunities for discussion with Hoa Sen University staff.