Vietnam: Culture, Social Change, and Development


The homestay experience has always been a challenging, yet rewarding part of the Vietnam: Culture, Social Change and Development program. It is an opportunity for SIT students to become directly immersed in a new culture by participating in household activities, interacting with homestay siblings, engaging in ongoing local development debates and discussions of daily importance, and attending traditional family ceremonies. Homestays also help SIT students learn about the significance of the family and the ongoing development processes and approaches in Vietnam while immersed in an authentic cultural context.

The program’s academic director works with experienced homestay coordinators to find the most suitable host families for each student.

Ho Chi Minh City
Students live with a middle-class family in Ho Chi Minh City, a vibrant cosmopolitan city representing the rapid modernization of Vietnam, for three weeks; typically the host family has at least one university student of a similar age to program participants. The homestay provides students with an excellent opportunity to practice language skills, and typically students engage with their host families in many different cultural activities, including family visits, weddings, and outdoor picnics. Homestays in Ho Chi Minh City are coordinated by the Youth Union at the University of Economics.

Many host families have multiple generations living under one roof, and students may help their host families with daily chores. Through this experience, students gain a far deeper understanding of Vietnam's increasingly complex and economically dynamic society. When possible, students are placed in homes with families that share professions and interests related to a student's Independent Study Project (ISP) topic. In many cases, the homestay family becomes an important contact for students as they explore multiple facets of cultures and development for their ISP. Many students consider the homestay experience one of the most meaningful components of the program.

Other accommodations during the program include guest houses, hostels, or small hotels.

Susannah Parkin "I had a wonderful experience during my homestay in SIT Vietnam. My homestay sister showed me around Ho Chi Minh City and brought me on adventures with her friends. We used to stay up late talking and laughing and painting our nails. My homestay brother picked me up every day from classes and told me about his life on the drive back home. My homestay parents did not speak much English, but we communicated with a few meaningful words and gestures. They helped me improve my Vietnamese. One of my favorite memories is eating dinner with them every night on the living room floor. They always made me feel welcome and appreciated. Their kindness allowed my time in Vietnam to be unforgettable."
—Susannah Parkin, Hamilton College

“I had a wonderful homestay experience and it was definitely one of my favorite aspects of the SIT Vietnam program. I stayed with a large extended family who welcomed me as one of their own. My homestay grandpa gave me motorbike rides to school every morning, and my homestay sister showed me her favorite parts of the city. We even got the chance to travel to Hoc Mon at the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, to fly kites and try a chicken hot pot dinner. Overall, the homestay experience helped me to gain a more in-depth understanding of Vietnamese culture and family life, and it allowed me to sharpen my Vietnamese language skills too! It was a rewarding learning experience and one I will never forget.”
—Alyssa Bosold, Gettysburg College

“If you were to ask a group of American students what they would expect from a few weeks living with a Vietnamese family they would likely tell you about their fears of upsetting delicate cultural practices, being confused with the language, and eating strange foods. However, what I experienced was different. The family was lovely, they were very friendly to me and conscious of my curiosities and reservations. Staying in a home of a Vietnamese family really allowed me an insider look into the private lives of ordinary people and gave me a new perspective which I could learn more from.”
—William Shlah, Southern Illinois University

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Ho Chi Minh City

Language Study: Vietnamese

Prerequisites: None


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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