Maturing visibly and having a deeper affection for Vietnam are common impressions of 13 high-school students from the US, after one year of participating in a programme entitled, “Academic year abroad”.

During the programme, the 16 to 18-year-old student group experienced real life in Vietnam through trips to regions across the country such as Sa Pa (Lao Cai province), Ha Long (Quang Ninh province), the former imperial capital of Hue, Da Nang city, the Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City, and the Central Highlands.

In the regions, they stayed and lived with Vietnamese families.

The students were taught how to make the acquaintance of the local people and communicate in Vietnamese, helping them gather knowledge as well as better understand the culture and material and spiritual life of the Vietnamese people.

Paul Dillon, the most proficient student in the Vietnamese language in the group, said the Vietnamese family where he stayed became his family.

Not only learning about Vietnamese culture, many students were also interested in environmental protection issues.

Sonya Schoenberger, a member of the group, presented a talk on To Lich river improvements, a river in the capital city of Hanoi , at a closing ceremony for the programme.

To Lich will be a beautiful river and can serve tourism if the sewage and rubbish are dealt with rather than being poured into the river, Sonya said.

According to Director Vu Duc Vuong, the “Academic year abroad” programme was carried out in many countries around the world, attracting the participation of students from more than 100 high schools in the US./.