February 28 – March 1, 2018
Its been a busy few days in Ho Chi Minh City and Danang. I can’t thank my hosts Mi Hoang in HCMC and Trang Nguyen in Danang, enough for their friendship and hospitality. Rather than list all the meetings, sights and activities I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in over the past few days, ill try to sum up my thoughts.
My experiences in HCMC mostly revolved around coming to understand the Vietnam, or American, War as the Vietnamese refer to the conflict, through the lens of the Vietnamese people. The War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels provide a perspective not detailed in American history textbooks. It’s moving, compelling and disturbing all at the same time. I’ve read the books, seen the films, had the conversations about the conflict over the years but being present in some of these places have impacted me. We talk about the “sense of place” in planning parlance, well the sense of place at the aforementioned locations has a visceral effect. What astounds me is the warmth, welcoming and interest in discussing these difficult issues that I have found with my friends in Vietnam and a real sense of opportunity and optimism as they gaze out toward the future. This future includes strengthening friendships and partnerships with America. I think Montana and Bozeman can be part of that future.
Danang has a very different vibe than HCMC. It’s a young city, vibrant and fast-paced. It’s the technology hub of Vietnam. Trang introduced me to many of her colleagues at the Danang Institute of Soci-Economic Development where we discussed my primary areas of interest which include 1) Education, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation; 2) Trade opportunities between Montana and Vietnam and 3) Resiliency and Economic Development. The response to these talking points was positive in that the relevance of these issues to today was readily recognized and I received positive reinforcement that an invitation by Montana Governor Steve Bullock to the Vietnamese Counsel General in San Francisco would be a good place to start to build the relationship.
Today I met with Vu and Phuong from the Danang Innovation Hub (http://dinhub.org/en/home/). We exchanged many examples of our respective entrepreneurial ecosystems and agreed that we have at least two areas for continued collaboration 1) code school curriculum and 2) international pitch contests. we will continue to discuss ways to maintain and strengthen the relationship.
This afternoon I will sit down with the Director of Green Viet, one of two conservation groups working in Vietnam (http://www.greenviet.net/). One of the areas I’m interested in is the overlap between sustainable tourism as an economic driver for the Vietnamese economy. After the meeting we will head to the Son Tra peninsula located 10 km from the City center to the Northeast, Son Tra Peninsula is considered the old eco-jungle within a young City. It is the nature reserve in rich diversity, protected under the nationally prohibited forest regime with many rare wild animals, especially pygathrix (red-shanked douc) is on the IUCN Red List of endangered species.