Photos by Amanda Nguyen, (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities) Student Corespondent CET Vietnam, Fall 2018 During our week-long traveling seminar, we traveled through North and Central Vietnam. Our first city was Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. We stayed in the Hoàn Kiếm District, also known as the Old Quarter. While the streets are smaller and less crowded than those in Ho Chi Minh City, they were still full of life and joy. The limited amount of space along the streets results in many unique shops and cafes hidden behind narrow alleys that are easy to miss. On our first day, we visited the Bat Trang Ceramic Village, an area known for producing ceramic and pottery items. We were able to visit a multi-level workshop and watch as the artists made and painted the pottery. A few of us visited the Temple of Literature during our free time. The Temple of Literature hosts the Imperial Academy, which is Vietnam’s first national university built in 1070 dedicated to Confucius, scholars, and sages. Tucked in between tall buildings is Hanoi’s famous Train Street. Houses, stores, and coffee shops line the street facing the railroad, and during the evening, many children and photographers are found walking on the railway. During the day, trains run down the tracks frequently. The travelling seminar also includes discussions with major organizations. On the third day, we met with the Institute for Studies of Society, Economics and Environment, an NGO that works towards increasing the rights of minority groups in Vietnamese society, and the United Nations Development Programme. We were able to learn a lot about ways to increase awareness, how to build a strong civil society, and the importance of citizen perspectives within development policies. The next city we visited was Huế, the capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. We visited the Đại Nội Citadel, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. The massive citadel consists of beautiful monuments, pagodas, temples, royal tombs, and was the residence of the imperial family. During the mid 1900’s, however, the citadel was under attack and many structures were damaged or destroyed. Restoration began in 1993 and when we visited, we were able to see parts of the citadel being restored. Two of the symbols of Huế are the Trang Tien Bridge, designed by Gustav Eiffel, and the Perfume River, which the bridge overlooks. The Perfume River received its name for the flowers that fall into the water upriver, giving the river a lovely aroma. At night, markets and street vendors can be found on either side of the bridge. We walked across to hunt for some delicious bún bò Huế and chè with our program director. We drove from Huế to Hội An and spent the night at the Hội An Ancient Town, an area of the city that has preserved its traditional architecture and townscape. At night, colorful lanterns illuminate the streets, storefronts, and the Thu Bon River that runs through the town. We visited the night market, floated on a boat up and down the river, and walked along the lively streets. The Ancient Town also allows you to visit five different heritage attractions out of twenty-two, including museums, beautifully designed assembly halls, and preserved ancient houses. My favorite heritage attractions were the assembly halls and the Japanese Covered Bridge. We visited the An Nhiên Farm in Triem Tay village, a farm that works towards sustainable development and local natural habitat restoration. Visiting the farm, we were immediately enveloped in an atmosphere of peace and harmony. Tall bamboo forests protected us from the sun, biodiverse gardens tickled at our ankles, and small cats and chickens played in our periphery. We learned a lot about how they overcame challenges relating to soil erosion, the erasure of traditional livelihoods, and shifts in attitudes towards nature. We helped clean and reshape discarded soap from nearby hotels to new bars to donate to communities in central mountainous regions. On our last day, we visited Duy Tân University in Đà Nẵng and met with students from the American Degree Program. We were able to learn more about student life and education in central Vietnam, as well as participate in engaging discussions about the differences between American student life and Vietnamese student life.