March 14, 2018
I’ve been home for a few days now, trying to catch up on projects, meetings and phone calls and e-mails set aside while I was working in Vietnam. The list is long. Amidst the information overload that is the return to work, I often think back to my time in Vietnam and ask myself: Have I achieved what I had intended? Was the experience, not just my trip to Vietnam but the totality of the exchange, a success?
Of course, at some level, it was a success simply due to the new relationship established by virtue of the exchange. Trang Nguyen made a significant positive impression on the elected officials of Bozeman, Montana, as well as officials at the State level and with colleagues in Helena and Missoula in the areas of government, business and education. I truly hope Trang maintains and leverages these new relationships. The sky is the limit on what we can do together.
Additionally, for my trip to Vietnam, Trang set up meetings, both formal and informal with some of the most interesting and exciting people I have ever met. They are excited about the future of Vietnam in the three primary areas, government, business and entrepreneurship, and education. All of the officials, entrepreneurs, and educators I came into contact with expressed a sincere interest and desire to strengthen and grow these nascent relationships not only for their intrinsic value but for the mutually beneficial possibilities that are driven by understanding, partnership, and cooperation.
Montana is not a well-known place in Vietnam. Not only are Bozeman and Montana now better known geographically, but as a potential future partner in trade, educational and knowledge exchange, and community resiliency. I was received warmly, engaged with interest and attention, questioned about potential areas of cooperation and encouraged to communicate a willingness to engage the City of Bozeman, Montana State University and the State of Montana to build on these initial conversations for some future joint effort.
My intentions and expectations revolved around the opportunity to tell the Bozeman and Montana stories and the rest would follow. I was graciously provided that opportunity time and time again. The rest is up to others to determine the value of these conversations and new relationships and take the next small step in furtherance of some really big ideas.
Thank you, Trang, ICMA, and the U.S. State Department for the opportunity to introduce Bozeman and Montana to Vietnam and to feel and hear the excitement of a new generation of young Vietnamese entrepreneurs as they tell their stories to the world.