Dr. Quan Le, Associate Professor of Economics and Director of the International Business Program at Seattle University, served as a Fulbright Specialist at Dalat University in Vietnam for six weeks in the summer of 2017. The primary focus of his visit was to advise faculty who are preparing Dalat University’s international business program to meet requirements for accreditation from the ASEAN University Network. In addition, Dr. Le helped his host institution launch an entrepreneurial center and create enduring ties with his university in the U.S. We recently caught up with the Fulbright Specialist to hear more about his assignment, what he achieved, and how the visit opened new entrepreneurial and learning opportunities for his students in Seattle.
WHAT WAS THE PRIMARY GOAL OF THE HOST INSTITUTION YOU WORKED WITH AS A FULBRIGHT SPECIALIST?
My main focus was to help Dalat University’s Faculty of Business Administration gain accreditation from the ASEAN University Network (AUN). I assisted them in developing the curriculum and reviewed the syllabi of all courses to make sure they met the requirements of the AUN.
HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO USE YOUR PROFESSIONAL EXPERTISE TO HELP DALAT UNIVERSITY IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF THEIR BUSINESS PROGRAM TO ADVANCE THE ACCREDITATION PROCESS?
I have teaching experience in Vietnam and know what the curriculum should look like. I am familiar with the AUN accreditation process. We reviewed all the programs in the Faculty of Business Administration, and I helped them develop the new international business program. They already had something to begin with. I looked at the international business program at Seattle University, where I teach and serve as program director, and helped them set up a similar program. I helped them select the courses from a list of courses they already had and helped them develop the syllabi.
CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE ENTREPRENEURSHIP FACILITATOR CENTER, WHICH YOU HELPED ESTABLISH WHILE YOU WERE A FULBRIGHT SPECIALIST?
They were in the process of launching when I was a Fulbright Specialist at Dalat University. I worked with the director of the center and introduced her to my colleague, Amelia Marckworth, assistant director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at Seattle University. I supported the launch of the center while I was a Fulbright Specialist.
HOW DID BEING A FULBRIGHT SPECIALIST IN VIETNAM ENRICH YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE? WHAT IMPACT HAS IT HAD ON YOUR WORK/CLASSES AT SEATTLE UNIVERSITY?
After the Fulbright Specialist Program, I returned to Seattle University and last year I received a different grant for another working visit. My colleague and I took six students from Seattle University to Vietnam this past summer to work with students at Dalat University. We were there for three weeks.
Through Dalat University’s Entrepreneurship Facilitator Center, we worked on a sustainable coffee project. The university is in a region that grows high quality coffee. I got interested in coffee while I was a Fulbright Specialist in Dalat. They agreed to host my students while we worked closely with the Entrepreneurship Facilitator Center.
WHAT CAME OUT OF THE FOLLOW-ON STUDENT RESEARCH TRIP? ANY NEW VENTURES?
Seattle University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center has an incubator where students run a coffee project working with Central American farmers to import the coffee to Seattle and sell it on campus. This group wanted to expand the project to Vietnam. We met with farmers in the Dalat area and signed a contract for this coming coffee harvest. The students ordered 1,000 pounds of coffee to ship over. This is our second brand. It will arrive around February.
WHY WAS THE FULBRIGHT SPECIALIST EXPERIENCE IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I was born in Vietnam. I came to the U.S. when I was 12 years old, so it was important for me to return and help the country. What I learned as a Fulbright Specialist I was able to bring back to my current job in the U.S. and help my students in Seattle get real-world entrepreneurial experience through my contacts at Dalat University.
IT SOUNDS LIKE YOUR FULBRIGHT SPECIALIST EXPERIENCE WAS THE BEGINNING OF A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SEATTLE UNIVERSITY AND DALAT UNIVERSITY’S ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM THAT WILL CONTINUE ON.
Yes, they modeled after us with similar activities such as incubators, coaching, and business plan competitions. Now that we have a connection I would like to do more with them. For example, at Seattle University, the students participate in the annual business plan competition. I would like our students to work with students at Dalat University on projects to compete in the event in the future. We have experience working with a university in India on an international business plan competition. I would like to replicate that with Dalat University. Dalat University also wants more of their students to interact with our students. I will work with them in December when I return to Dalat. We’ve established a relationship and I would like to continue it.