Class to explore cultural life, natural beauty of Vietnam

Hwang Bay in Vietnam is one of the sights to be visited by a class slated for summer 2008. The trip will be led by Dr. Steven Wagner, associate professor of history.

Special to The Chart

Hwang Bay in Vietnam is one of the sights to be visited by a class slated for summer 2008. The trip will be led by Dr. Steven Wagner, associate professor of history.

Amye Buckley

Vietnam is the topic for one summer class at Missouri Southern. Studying the connection between Vietnam and the United States, Dr. Steven Wagner, associate professor of history, will lead a group on a three-week tour across Vietnam.

“The general theme is how more than 30 years after the Vietnam War, the war continues to shape U.S.-Vietnam relations,” Wagner said.

Visits to cultural and historical sites are an important part of the trip.

“Overall, we’re going to see pretty much the whole country from north to south; from the mountainous border with China to the Mekong river delta in the far south.”

The group will hike into some of the villages in the northern part of the country and observe the local craftsmen at work.

“Sa Pa is way up near the border with China in the mountainous part of the country, and a lot of the indigenous peoples live there and still live and work in very traditional ways.”

Wagner says the trip is unique not only for the cultural experience, but also for the natural beauty of Vietnam, including a visit to Hwang Bay.

“The water is this emerald green color and there’s these huge limestone formations that rise up out of the water – it’s beautiful, it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Wagner explored Vietnam three years ago on his own, now he wants to share his view of a country with a complex history with Southern students.

“I want them to start thinking of Vietnam as a country and not a war,” Wagner said.

The perspectives Wagner hears on Vietnam as a country are sometimes misplaced.

“For instance, it’s not nearly as small of a country as people think it is,” he said. “If Vietnam were overlaid on the United States it would stretch from the Canadian border to the Gulf Coast.”

Wagner hopes to explore the rich culture and native traditions of Vietnam.

He planned it as a summer course so students will be eligible for financial aid. Coupled with grants from the Institute of International Studies he says the trip will be an inexpensive option for students who want to visit east Asia.

The course offers three upper division credit hours. For more information please contact Dr. Steven Wagner.