Lasting Memory

Unknown-10By Dr. Debra Colley

I leave Vietnam with the warmth of the people in my heart and the beauty of the country in my memory.  We met many new colleagues and laid the foundation for partnerships with P-12 schools, university schools of education, and the Ministry of Home Affairs, among others.  Similar to our work in the United States, educational reform and the preparation of educational leaders who can ‘lead’ this reform is in the forefront of the discussion in Vietnam.

I leave with this picture of a child on a warm day – our global understanding does begin with children – and I am reminded that children from around the world are quite similar in many ways. On a very warm day, all of our children will smile while they enjoy the cool sweetness of their culture’s version of ice cream.   We can learn so much from each other when we embrace the simple smiles that extend across language, culture, and history.


American Center

By Dr. Debra Colley

photo 3

photo 2The American Center of the U.S. Embassy was festive during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for this new facility.  The center, sponsored by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy, is a one-stop source of up-to-date information about all aspects of the United States, its people, and its policies.
The American Center is open to the public and welcomes visits by government officials, academics, journalists, students, and others interested in information about the United States. Speaker programs, trainings, clubs practicing American English, debate and book discussions, film shows, exhibitions and music performances are planned for guests as well.
Although we missed the Ambassador during this event, we did meet several students who are studying English and are interested in visiting the U.S.  It was very exciting to be part of this event at our Embassy, so of course I was singing along…

photo 1

The Seminar


By Dr. Debra Colley

We had the opportunity to provide training for directors and deputy directors from the Ministry of Home Affairs.  We learned from them as we spoke about management and performance – my topic being the development of employees in the public sector.  The training was in a formal setting with simultaneous translation.  It was quite interesting to present this way and I realize that I should have talked a bit slower! We had a lot of questions and a good discussion.


A Short Walk

Unknown-6By Dr. Debra Colley


It seemed difficult to find the time for an afternoon walk with the schedule of meetings and visits that were planned… But I did. The hustle of the city was evident, with the traffic of motor bikes and cars (heeding very few rules of the road), and small streets lined with wonderful people who were so excited to meet us and practice conversing in English as we wandered through their community.

Though we had a very busy agenda, I made it a priority to take time to appreciate the cultural footprint this trip to Vietnam will certainly leave on me. I have had the opportunity to engage in many unique experiences, inviting me to view the world through yet another cultural lens.


Palm Sunday

By Dr. Debra Colley


Never would I have imagined being at a mass in a Gothic cathedral in Vietnam, on Palm Sunday, with Father Maher and the new colleagues I had met. The Vietnamese language was so beautiful as everyone sang and prayed with the Bishop. I will bring the palm home with me so as to share this blessing and faith from a developing country with my family.


Teaching Practice

Unknown-17By Dr. Debra Colley

Yesterday morning, we visited the St. Paul International School Hanoi.  The school houses a global community, where cultural and linguistic diversity meet to create a stimulating and creative learning environment. Students acquire English language skills while at the same time they engage in a rigorous general education curriculum.

St. Paul enrolls students from Pre-k to grade 12 and prepares them to matriculate into competitive universities in the United States and throughout the world. They offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses to students to help prepare them for the academic rigor and demand they will face in colleges and universities. Due to a growing enrollment, they are in the process of building a new school campus that will enroll 1000 students.

As we toured the school and met with students and faculty, it was wonderful to see teachers implementing strategies which engage young people in learning; research-based strategies which have no boundaries! You will see the word wall in my photos!

It seems our visit may be the beginning of a relationship promoting an exchange of language and cultures. The students were so excited to have visitors from across the world – they would like us to be “pen pals,” and the teachers are interested in visiting our campus. Administrators are also interested in having our student teachers and interns from other personnel support areas complete practical placements at St. Paul’s. 

Building partnerships between cultures and countries provides us with the opportunity to learn from the international environment and to expand our global perspective in order to provide our students at Niagara with a broader academic experience; providing exceptional educational opportunities on campus while extending our strengths abroad through learning partnerships with peer institutions in other countries. Valuable opportunities can arise for student teachers and other personnel support areas as our global partnerships continue to strengthen. I believe an exchange of students and scholars with institutions around the world will assist us in aligning our practices with a rapidly changing global community. No wonder our delegation had a difficult time getting me to leave the school!

Global Understanding

Unknown-13By Dr. Debra Colley

We arrived in Vietnam several days ago for a historic meeting between Niagara University and the Ministry of Home Affairs. While we are here, in addition to our conference presentations, we are also working to foster relationships with partner institutions in Vietnam who engage in P-16 education. I feel this work is essential to our strength as an institution of higher education because as Niagara University moves beyond the borders of US & Canada, we have the opportunity to influence future teachers, policy makers, and educators from around the world.

This work will build the foundation for a global understanding. We welcome international students and we are continuing to create opportunities to send our faculty abroad and to build innovative on-line programs to further enhance our global outreach.