The seven-member delegation of PLSP visited Vietnam for educational, cultural, and historical purposes on December 12 to 15, 2023. The University President, Dr. Sigfredo C. Adajar, who led the PLSP delegation was joined by Prof. Lorena E. Bautista, VPAA; Mr. Mark Francis P. Donato, VPAPF; Dr. Preciosa D. Villacruel, Dean of the Graduate School and the College of Teacher Education, the contact person to TNU; and the EMISO officer/IT expert, Mr. Dennis S. Gambuta. Two representatives from the City Agriculture Office also participated in this momentous undertaking – Engr. Arthur B. Almario, the former University President and presently, the City Agriculturist and concurrent City Budget Officer; Ms. Erlene A. Delgado, a PLSP Graduate School alumna, and an agriculturist by profession.
The opportunity to travel in Vietnam would have not been possible if not for the untiring support of the following leaders and public servants: the City Mayor and BOR Chairperson, Hon. Vicente B. Amante; City Administrator, Mr. Larry S. Amante; Vice Mayor Hon. Justin Colago and the whole Sangguniang Panlunsod; Executive Assistant III, Ms. Kristin Amante Picazo; and the Representative to the 3rd District of Laguna, the Hon. Loreto S. Amante. Their strong belief in quality education for all kinds of students fuels the progress of the Pamantasan, the City of Seven Lakes, and the entire province of Laguna.
Topping the list of the five-day activities of the group was the collaboration among the University, TNU, and TNUT for future faculty and exchange programs that will fire up the internationalization of programs in the Graduate School, and some Baccalaureate degree programs such as Teacher Education, Engineering, and IT. The possibility of offering a program in agriculture looks bright, too, as well as an internship program exchange for the aforementioned undergraduate degrees as well as the Tourism and Hotel Management program.
The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between DLSP (PLSP) and TNU was signed on December 12, 2023 by the BOR Chairperson, Hon. Vicente B. Amante who was represented by Dr. Sigfredo C. Adajar, and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hoang Van Hung, the TNU President, signed in the presence of Dr. Sigfredo C. Adajar and Dr. Preciosa Villacruel for DLSP and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Tuan Minh, the Director for Human Resource Training & Development Center, and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ha Xuan Linh, the Dean of International School for TNU.
On December 13, DLSP forged a partnership with TNUT by signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DLSP and TNUT signed by the University President, Dr. Sigfredo C. Adajar, and Dr. Do Trung Hai, the TNUT Rector. The MOA was signed in the presence of Dr. Preciosa D. Villacruel, GS/CTEd Dean, and Dr. Ngo Minh Duc, the Director of International Training and Cooperation Center. The rest of the groups from both schools who were present in those two separate occasions witnessed delightfully the sealing of friendships between and among the institutions of learning.
Prior to the signing of the MOA and the MOU was the exchange of pleasantries of the meeting groups, the introduction of the schools that included the organizational structure, educational system, demographics, and history. A healthy academic discussion ensued on how the program collaborations could happen, in terms of student and faculty exchange scholarships and joint training in programs taught in English both for the Master’s and Baccalaureate programs. The school officials were all so warm and generous that the team was also treated to campus tours in the afternoon of December 12 and on succeeding days, not just in TNU, but also in TNUT, the Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry (TUAF) that offers the Advanced Education Program, and Khoa Quoc Te International School (KQTIS). The tours and the academic forums opened possibilities of exchange not only for human resources but also for technology and facilities. The group appreciated so much the willingness of the TNU, TNUT, TUAF, and KQTIS officials to respond to questions on the system of teaching, accreditation, scholarship programs and requirements, research and publication, community outreach programs, and other pertinent information on the academics, faculty and student services, administration and governance. Additionally, the two representatives from the City Agriculture Office, Engr. Almario and Ms. Delgado, were able to draw insights from the discussions and the actual visits of the many places in the two cities, most especially from the Green House in TUAF and the historical sites in Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, that could boost the San Pablo City tourism and agriculture development programs.
The delegation, through the University President Dr. Sigfredo C. Adajar, expressed sincerest appreciation for the warm accommodation provided by the welcoming parties from TNU, TNUT, TUAF, and KQTIS, most especially to the University President, heads, and deans, the contact persons – from TUAF, the Vice Director of Advanced Education Program, Dr. Dao Thi Thanh Huyen; from TNUT, Dr. Duc and Ms. Nguyen Nguyen – and to Dr. Minh Tuan Nguyen of TNU, a dear friend of Dr. Villacruel, who took time from his busy schedule to meet the group in the hotel and treated the team to sumptuous meals for lunch, and dinner with other TNU officials.
We appreciated the kind gestures of pouring the famous tea of Thai Nguyen into our cups and filling them, every time they get empty!
Included in the activities of the group was the cultural and historical exposure in the cities of Thai Nguyen and Hanoi. Despite the language barrier, there were good people who helped the team understand better and appreciate more the Vietnamese history, literature, legends, traditions, and beliefs that surround the historical and magnificent places the group had the chance to visit such as century-old pagodas, the first university of literature, the biggest lake in Hanoi, emerald waters between the limestone outcrops and long corridors, Thien Cung Cave and floating village along Ha Long Bay, St. Joseph Cathedral, authentic Vietnamese diners/restaurants and memorabilia stores. Gratitude extended to Mr. Sung, a mechanical engineer in Samsung who is more of a son to Dr. Villacruel and a graduate of TNU; Mr. Thomas, and Mr. Roy for serving as tour guides around the two cities. Also, to Mr. Transit Driver who speaks and understands only Vietnamese. Additionally, to Solomon Travel and Tours in the Philippines for making our travel safe and comfortable.
There are many highlights of our experience in Vietnam, but two of the most touching we could consider besides the signing of the memoranda, was one (1), meeting a group of Filipino students who are scholars in the engineering programs taught in English at TNUT. The brief conversation we had with them was warm and light. It was so nice to hear them speak our language, much more to see their smiles and hear their laughter. They miss their families but they acknowledge responsibly the reason for their stay in Thai Nguyen. Some of them were on their fourth year in the University. We were touched when the school officials described them as diligent, hardworking, and smart. Just like in any other scholarship program, their education is 100% free including their stay in the dormitories, but they must be conscientious about their studies for they have to maintain the qualifying grades to continue enjoying the benefits and privileges in full. They make us all proud! And, two (2), Mr. Roy’s kindness of granting our request to take us to a Catholic Church, and he brought us on foot to the only Catholic Church in the City of Hanoi, the Grand Cathedral of St. Joseph. Setting foot on the Holy ground made us feel safe, warm, home. It capped our evening in Hanoi amazingly humbling!
In the five days we had in Vietnam, we marveled in the authenticity and mesmerizing beauty of Thai Nguyen City, Hanoi, and their people. The two places were so different – Thai Nguyen was serene and there were no traffic of cars and people anywhere we go, on the other hand, Hanoi City, being the Capital City and the seat of business, was alive at night fall, and there were cars, bikes, and people from different cultures in every nook and turn. But both are special in each unique way, diverse but beautiful. We left on the 16th with wonderful memories worth sharing with others on how the Vietnamese respect and enriched their culture and traditions despite modernization. How highly they regard education as a way of life. How they value time. How welcoming they are of other ethnicities. All in all, the experience taught us the value of dedication, resiliency, respect, simplicity, teamwork, and most all, humility in order to not just succeed in life, but to live it to the fullest.
With high hopes, the Pamantasan looks forward to a mutually-benefitting relationships forged by mutual trust and friendship with TNU, TNUT, KQTIS, and TUAF for the good of the people and the communities they serve.
AMDG! By: Prof. Lorena E. Bautista, 12-17-23