/ Alumni and Family Engagement

Vietnam: History, Culture and People

We invite you to travel through this beautiful country learning about its history, current culture and complicated past, with professors Fred Johnson and Scott VanderStoep from December 27, 2021, until January 7, 2022.

This trip was originally scheduled for 2020-2021. It has been rescheduled for a year later due to COVID-19.

Program Highlights

This custom-designed study and travel program begins in the northern part of Vietnam and moves southward. We will spend four nights in Hanoi, three nights in Da Nang and three nights in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). This experiential kaleidoscope will expose you to several aspects of Vietnam.

The first program component will teach the history of Vietnam, including the Vietnam War. We’ll have the opportunity to see sites such as the Cu Chi Tunnels, the War Remnants Museum and the Hanoi Hilton.

The second component of the program will explore services used to assist Vietnamese citizens who live on the margins. We will connect with a center for domestic-abuse victims, a child protection center and a Buddhist pagoda that assists HIV patients.

Finally, we will take in Vietnam’s beauty by touring on a small eco-boat, visiting villages, trying local foods, dining on a riverboat in Ho Chi Minh City and accessing superb local beaches. 

Register now 

Program Leaders

Professors Fred Johnson and Scott VanderStoepDr. Fred L. Johnson III, associate professor of history, has taught at Hope College since 2000 and is a favorite lecturer at the Hope Academy of Senior Professionals (HASP). Prior to his career in higher education, he served as a communications and electronics officer in the United States Marine Corps and an infantry officer in the Marine Corps Reserve. He has also worked in the  automotive, telecommunications and aerospace industries. Fred earned his master’s and doctorate degrees at Kent State University, specializing in 19th and 20th century U.S. history, U.S. military history, and foreign policy.

Dr. Scott VanderStoep, dean for social sciences and professor of psychology, has been a part of the Hope College community for much of the last four decades. He taught on a temporary appointment from 1992–94 and returned to Hope in 1999. He directed the Frost Research Center for five years, served as assessment director for 10 years and chaired the Department of Psychology for six years. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Illinois and a doctorate from the University of Michigan.

Scott and Fred led a Vietnam May Term with Hope students in 2017 and 2019. They plan to teach it again in 2020. Using thier past travel experiences and knowledge, they have custom-designed this Global Travel Program for adults.

What to Expect

To fully partake in this program, you should be capable of walking approximately one mile at a time over uneven terrain, climbing stairs that may not have handrails, entering a canoe-like boat, keeping pace with an active group of travelers, and dealing with the emotional highs and lows that can occur when experiencing a different culture. You have the option of skipping a group activity should you think it will be too strenuous. Please note that facilities and  accommodations for disabled and special needs individuals may be limited.

Hotels chosen for this program were handpicked by our leaders. They are tourist class (typically three or four star) and chosen for their desirability and location. Breakfasts will be offered at the hotels and usually one additional meal will be included each day, as indicated on the itinerary.

Travel within the country will be by motor bus, airplane and occasionally taxi. Leaders will be assisting participants with using taxi cabs.

Temperatures in major cities will average:

    • Hanoi: high of 75° F, low of 50° F
    • Da Nang: high of 80° F, low of 65° F
    • Ho Chi Minh City: high of 92° F, low of 70° F

We recommend that you are prepared for a variation of 5–10 degrees in either direction and pack with layers that can be added or removed as needed. There is a chance of rain, of course, so you may also want a light rain jacket or travel umbrella.

You are responsible for reviewing the specific requirements for the program and judging the appropriateness of these travel activities for your capabilities. Prior to or during travel, any participant unable to safely participate, by the judgement of the program leader, may be prohibited from certain activities or excused from the program.

Plan an appointment with your family physician or a travel doctor at least four to six weeks prior to departure, preferably earlier, to talk about routine vaccinations. For more information on travel health, visit cdc.gov or who.int.

Program Fee

The program fee is $2,895. Based on double occupancy, the program fee includes discussions and trip leadership, accommodations, breakfast daily and group meals as listed on the itinerary, admission for group activities, ground transportation during the program, and gratuities for group guides, drivers and meal servers. For single occupancy add $415.

The minimum number of guests for this program is 15. The maximum number of guests is 20.

Airfare to and from Vietnam is not included in the program fee, allowing participants the flexibility to choose airlines, use frequent flyer miles, and pick travel times and connections that best meet their individual travel needs.
Also not included are:

  • Airport transfers 
  • Passport fees
  • Immunizations or vaccinations
  • Trip cancellation and baggage insurance
  • Beverages at group meals when not included
  • Laundry
  • Dry cleaning
  • Phone charges
  • Room service or other items of a personal nature 
  • Expenses incurred during free time or non-group activities
  • Additional meals not specifically included on program itinerary

Payment Schedule 

Register Now 

Travel Insurance

Hope College provides limited travel insurance for emergency medical situations, emergency medical evacuation and security evacuation. Review a travel insurance description.

Travel insurance, including trip cancellation, trip interruption, theft or loss of property, and emergency medical and dental coverage is the responsibility of the participant. We strongly suggest you purchase travel insurance to protect your travel investment. We recommend that you see what is covered by your personal credit card's travel benefits and consider purchasing travel insurance from your insurance agent or by contacting Ally Flinski at Buiten & Associates at 616.284.3039 or ally.flinski@buiteninsurance.com.

Program Documents