Indiana State University Newsroom

Vietnam trip presents promising opportunities for Indiana State music students, faculty

March 12, 2015

It was a whirlwind of a trip to Vietnam - 10 university visits in 10 days - for Indiana State University faculty members Paul DuongTran and Brian Kilp.

But the payoff could lead to new experiences for students.

Since he arrived at Indiana State in July and became chair of the department of social work, DuongTran has been eager to use his international experience to collaborate with other faculty.

"My goal is to elevate the discourse about international education and research at (Indiana State) and make international education part of the academic opportunities for students," DuongTran said. "The university is very focused on its commitment to Indiana residents, and my argument is that means there should be even more of a focus on international opportunities."

In addition to visiting and making presentations at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, DuongTran started to focus on those opportunities when he traveled to Vietnam last December with Kilp, professor of music, and Chris McGrew, director of the Center for Global Engagement, with the hope of achieving several goals:

• Establish strategic partnerships with academic institutions and civil societies for educational development and academic training in allied health, education, arts and humanities
• Promote interdisciplinary and inter-professional collaboration with Indiana State academic departments and Vietnam institutions
• Present Indiana State as an institution of learning for Vietnamese students
• Forge research partnerships for cross-national collaboration on funded or non-funded research for health and social wellness
• Strengthen Indiana State's international infrastructure to promote opportunities for students and faculty

There are several ideas for collaborating with Vietnamese institutions, including the possibility for Kilp to lead an international music festival in Vietnam. There's also a hope of exploring opportunities for the departments of social work, art and design and the built environment to do short- and long-term academic programming and research in Vietnam.
Kilp said all 10 universities he and DuongTran visited are interested in hosting Indiana State students or faculty ensembles or performers on their campuses for a few days so students can collaborate and host a performance.

"What's nice about instrumental music performances is that you don't necessarily have to speak the same language to understand what's going on," he said.

There was a great interest among the universities to do community-type performances, which DuongTran said isn't the typical format in Vietnam.
"People there borrow a lot of stuff from media, which comes from Asia or the U.S. They have a lot of reality shows or music shows they enjoy on TV, but there's little opportunity to see live music performances," he said. "We want to continue building on this partnership and provide a range of things there, from music festival events to more localized performances."
Kilp is exploring options through Indiana State to bring these ideas to fruition.

"Once all the opportunities are there, you have to act or they may disappear, so I've been in touch with several of the universities we visited and they'd like to see this performance idea happen," he said. "We'd like to bring in partners we already work with in Thailand and China and their some of their contacts to do a two-day festival focused on ensembles of their traditional music ensembles."

Having been part of other trips that have taken music students to Thailand, Taiwan and China, Kilp knows how international experiences are a gift that keeps on giving.

"It takes a lot of effort by faculty to give the students these abroad trips, but these activities are part of student success on campus and after they graduate," he said. "I've heard an issue with international business opportunities in Indiana is that people enter into a business relationship where the partner speaks English as a second language and they're uncomfortable because they've rarely or never experienced being around people who aren't just like them. We're hoping that providing opportunities for international experiences for our students will help them work more comfortably in a globalized world after they graduate."

Contact: Paul DuongTran, chairperson of the department of social work,, or Brian Kilp, professor of music,

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or