I just returned from Hanoi Vietnam where I attended the conference “Building Partnerships in Southeast Asia: Opportunities and Challenges for the U.S. The conference was wonderful. I met a ton of interesting Americans working on Fulbrights. I also got to do some site-seeing in Hanoi.
Our hotel, the Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel was right next to the famous opera house. (Not to be confused with the infamous prison "The Hanoi Hilton" where American pilots were held from 1964-1973).
Trees lean into the Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi. Legend has it that the 15th century emperor Le Loi received a magic sword from the depth of the lake, which he used to overcome Chinese occupiers. “Hoan Kiem” means “return of the sword”.
The lake is the only serene spot I could find in Hanoi. Locals love to sit, talk, and exercise in the surrounding paths.
“Turtle tower” is very photogenic.
The traffic in Hanoi is nuts!
Ms. Claire a Pierangelo from the USA embassy Hanoi was the first speaker. She said the Fulbright program is one of the centerpieces of US engagement in the region and the program has the ultimate goal of increasing the chance that these nations will live in peace and friendship.
There were so many great presentations! I highlight a few of the most interesting talks here: Continue reading
It is the hot season and it is HOT (in the 90s F) and dry and dusty, a big change from the rainy season when I started my field work. I have had some personnel changes over the past month. My village guide Tsing had to go work in the fields with his family. My military guy Suree had to do military training so I got a new guy named Yer. They are great helpers but I have had to do some training and get to know them which has taken time. It takes awhile to figure out how to communicate with mixed Lao/English and hand signals. Yer knows one sentence in English, “My name is Yer, what is your name?”
Me with the new guys!
We are still trying to collect as many plant samples as possible. This is one day's worth.
I am still constantly battling with paperwork. You would think after working here for 9 months I would not have to continuously renew around 10 different documents. Let’s not forget Laos is a communist bureaucracy and they love paperwork. My site is highly restricted to foreigners, even though there is a massive road being constructed which will make the area accessible to anyone and everyone. Go figure!
Paperwork required for entry into the protected area. Documents are required from the provincial authorities, district authorities, military, park director, and ministry of foreign affairs.
I am getting ready for the Fulbright Enrichment Conference for scholars in Southeast Asia called “Building Partnerships in Southeast Asia: Opportunities and Challenges for the U.S.” This will be held in Hanoi, Vietnam in the middle of the month. It sounds like this is going to be a great conference with speakers from Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Laos (including me!) so I will have a lot to report. The topics to be covered include the role of education and trade, prioritizing conservation efforts, expanding economic opportunities for rural poor farmers, biodiversity corridors, and much more. Before the conference I am also presenting on gibbons in Laos at the United States Embassy Vientiane. I have a lot of work to do!