Hue University was founded 55 years ago, in 1957. Last week, the Department of Physics and the College of Education (in which the Advanced Program in Physics is located) celebrated this anniversary. The university as a whole will celebrate later this month, after Hue Festival 2012 concludes. We were invited to the departmental celebration as well as the college one. When the college one started, we--the husband and I--learned that we had become an official "foreign delegation" from the University of Virginia. Evidently, Hue University and UVa signed some formal agreement four years ago; this may be the basis for the Advanced Program in Physics following the UVa physics curriculum. Anyway, we ended up being wined (well, beered) and dined and entertained and educated through meals and performances and a program of presentations. Oh, there was karaoke as well.
I had planned a long post with all the ins and outs and lots of photos, but after the time it took me yesterday to post about the opening ceremony of Hue Festival 2012, I'm going with the very abbreviated high-points version. Here goes. Ho Chi Minh is part of just about everything here. He was on the stage, at least at the start, at every program we attended. The national anthem is sung looking at Ho. There is often a gold star on the red curtain in front of which Ho sits; the may symbolize the Vietnamese flag. There was a student campout in conjunction with the anniversary celebration, and just about every tent (tents were set up by subject major such as technology, chemistry, psychology, etc.) contained a shrine to Ho. University students are much different here than in the States or at least at UVa. Every physics student took some part in the department's celebration. Here, for example, the every-physics-student choir performing at the departmental celebration. I told the husband I thought he should try to form such a choir for an even at UVa, and you would not believe the look he gave me. After the choir performed, they called all the professors (including the husband) up on stage and presented each one with flowers. They then let anyone who wanted to do karaoke do it. They even asked the husband if he would like to offer up a tune. Fortunately, he declined. There was also karaoke in the evening, after the departmental dinner at our hotel. We had to skip the physics dinner to go to a separate dinner for the foreign delegations to the college's celebration. There was no karaoke there, but when we dropped by the departmental party afterwards, the hard core were still hard at it. As far as I know, these are all faculty members in physics here. I have told the husband that his department at UVa had best step its game up if it wants to stay competitive internationally.
The aforementioned student campout happened on Friday night. We were the only foreign delegation to attend; in fact, we may have been the only non-students there. We were also the only Westerners, which made us quite popular as we circulated through the sites. Students worked very hard on their campsites. This was at the front of the one for the technology students. I;m not sure what area did this giant 55, but you know it took them a while. This may, in fact, be why classes were cancelled on Thursday and Friday, at least in physics. Each campsite was selling some commodity. We enjoyed food at the physics site, and bought a scroll from the psychology one. I actually liked the small tablets to the left of this photo a bit more, but they were real stone and heavy as heck meaning getting it home without risking overweight luggage fees was risky. As with the choir, I asked the husband about getting the physics majors at UVa together for a group campout. He suggested something along the lines of kegs being needed and quite possibly the freezing over of hell as well.
Saturday morning was the official college celebration. There were a few performance acts and speeches. And more speeches. And more...you get the idea. Interestingly, most of the people who could understand what the speakers were saying were only listening with one ear at best.
At least there were lots of flowers at which we could look. The Vice Prime Minister (or maybe it was the Vice President) was there to make a special medal to the college, make a speech, and also present a special portrait of Ho. After she finished, many of the newspaper readers left. The husband and I paid close attention, though, because by then we'd devised the 55th anniversary drinking game, listening for what sounded like "num-num." As you may or may not have guessed, that's "55" in Vietnamese. Unfortunately, we only had water with which to play. The beer didn't come until the post-celebration lunch. Ah, beer, another topic for a blog post that may or may not get written in this, our last full week here.