Magazine for McKendree - Winter 2018

Living and Learning in Vietnam: Fulbright Scholar Darryn Diuguid

Angkor Watby Lisa Brandon, Director of Media Relations

When Dr. Darryn Diuguid applied to be a Fulbright Scholar, he knew there was nowhere he would rather spend a semester than in Vietnam. For the associate professor of education, it was more than a teaching assignment. It was an opportunity for his teenage son to experience the culture of his birthplace, and to explore as a family places far from the familiar.Darryn and Evan


The teaching assignment was also an opportunity for Darryn's son Evan to experience the culture of his birthplace.


Darryn’s passion for international travel was ignited during a seventh grade Spanish class trip to Spain. He has been to every continent except Antarctica. “I’ve lost track of the number of countries I’ve visited,” he said.

During the 25th anniversary year of the Fulbright program in Vietnam, he was the guest of Ho Chi Minh City University of Education (HCMCUE) in the country’s largest city, the former Saigon (pop. 8 million), from August 2017 to January 2018. In existence since 1946, the Fulbright Program is a U.S. government funded, flagship international educational exchange program for academics to teach or conduct research in other countries. the Core Fulbright Scholar Program grants teaching and research awards in more than 125 countries to increase mutual cultural understanding. It is highly competitive; only one to seven academics are chosen per year in each participating country.

Darryn presented to students and faculty members on techniques to increase student involvement, the use of authentic assessments, instructional activities for ESL (English as a Second Language) students, and strategies to provide support for LGBT students. He was invited to lecture at Hai Phong Private University, Hong Bang University, Hoa Sen University and University of Da Nang.

The greatest lesson of his travels continues to be “the interesting and warm people you meet along the way,” Darryn said. His colleagues at HCMCUE and other institutions were hospitable, friendly and generous. “At the guest lectures, the presenter is showered with flowers, photos, mugs, banners, and dinners. It’s a big deal!”

Classes were much larger and more formal than at McKendree, where he instructs education majors in teaching methods, language arts, and children’s and adolescent literature courses. At HCMCUE, professors use a microphone in every class. “That took a while to get used to, but I feel I’m a pro at it now,” Darryn said.

"Each of my presentation sessions needed an English translator, and that added an interesting dynamic. There’s a huge language barrier, with faculty and students, I didn’t expect. At least once a day, students or faculty stopped by to talk about education or to practice their English. I started an informal English club, which met on Wednesdays during lunch, and we talked about similarities and differences between our two countries.”Darryn sitting on Panel


Darryn participated on a panel with Dr. Lê Thị Ánh Nguyệt of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Law.


Ho Chi Minh University students, for example, take eight or nine classes a semester. “They seem to study nonstop, although it doesn’t seem they have after-school jobs like their counterparts in the U.S,” he noted. “Around lunchtime, it’s extremely common to see students taking naps on the concrete hallway floors of the university. The university even has rooms for faculty and staff to take naps during the day. Now, if I can only get McKendree to provide napping areas for the faculty, that would be a huge win.”Darryn at lecture

Darryn was invited to lecture at Hai Phong Private University, Hong Bang University, Hoa Sen University and the University of Da Nang.

A highlight of his semester was speaking to 540 students about supporting LGBTQ students at their school, said Darryn, who advises Spectrum Alliance, McKendree’s LBGTQ group on campus. “I had them playing LGBTQ bingo, which seemed to be a big hit. I also enjoyed sharing my assessment knowledge with lecturers since they rely strictly on traditional tests. It was fun to see them explore new knowledge with authentic assessments and creating rubrics.”

He was McKendree University’s fourth Fulbright Scholar in ten years. Dr. Martha Patterson, professor of English, was a Fulbright Lecturer Scholar at the University of Agder, in Kristiansand, Norway, in 2010-2011. During the 2007–2008 academic year, Dr. Patrick Folk—who retired as professor emeritus of history in 2016—and Dr. Feza Ozturk, professor of chemistry, taught at Ege University in Izmir, Turkey, as Fulbright Scholars.

Like his fellow Fulbrighters, Darryn took his family along—his husband, Dr. Neil Quisenberry, and their son, Evan. Their adventure began in Hong Kong with a visit to McKendree trustee and alumnus Matt Olmsted ’01. Neil, professor of sociology, gave several presentations at HCMC University and taught Sociological Analysis online to McKendree students 8,800 miles away.

Living in Vietnam was especially meaningful for Evan, a high school sophomore. “I wanted to give him a chance to experience the culture of his homeland,” Darryn said. “It was his first time back. I wish we had the chance to expose him to Vietnamese culture around St. Louis, but it’s nearly impossible, other than going to favorite restaurants. There, he had the chance to ride a motorbike—the typical transportation method—to school every day, eat Vietnamese food daily, and communicate with his peers.”

They lived in a 40-story building in a modern complex, next to a huge shopping mall and a metro subway system under construction, in the area where K-12 international schools are located. Evan attended The American School, which teaches in English using Common Core standards. Language tutoring helped him communicate socially with new friends and classmates, most of whom were Vietnamese who hope to attend college in Western countries.The city skyline is changing, as modern skyscrapers tower over the historic, Colonial-era architecture.


The city skyline is changing, as modern skyscrapers tower over the historic, Colonial-era architecture.


“We only could say the specific Vietnamese words for thank you, hello, and other polite words,” Darryn said. “It’s such a difficult language due to the tonal qualities. We often relied on Google Translate to help us. It was useful when going out to dinner with friends from our apartment complex and at my university.”

Darryn first visited Vietnam in 2002 as part of Evan’s adoption process. In 15 years it has changed dramatically, especially in Ho Chi Minh City/Sai Gon. “It’s growing like wildfire. I call it a ‘little’ Hong Kong since skyscrapers are going up everywhere. I was shocked to see Black Friday specials around Thanksgiving. It appears American shopping habits have influenced the VietnameseDarryn and Evan.


Darryn and Evan recreated their 2002 photo 15 years later at Hoi An, a small historial city outside of Da Nang, where Even was adopted.


“It’s so much easier to travel now rather than 15 years ago,” he added, “with Google Maps, Uber, Google Translate, TripAdvisor, currency convertor apps and online banking. It was extremely easy to stay in touch with family and friends through phone calls via Skype, What’s App, and Viber.” Darryn used Uber rides to catch up on emails during his 25-minute daily commute through the city’s notoriously chaotic streets.

“The driving is still crazy, with the motorbike drivers taking to the sidewalks when there’s a traffic jam. There are still families of five riding on motorbikes at the same time, with all of them wearing surgical masks to protect themselves from the pollution. We even wore the masks when friends offered them. Traffic laws in Vietnam—don’t even think about such things, and my Vietnamese friends admit it.” Ta Prohm temple, in the Angkor complex

The family ended its Fulbright semester in Southeast Asia with a trip to the island beaches of Phuket, Thailand. Darryn returned in January and he is comfortably back at home in his McKendree classroom, no longer using a microphone. Beneath his email signature remains a Nelson Mandela quote, in Vietnamese: “Giáo dc là vũ khí mnh nht đ thay đi th gii.”

"Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.”


Ta Prohm temple, in the Angkor complex at Siem Riep in Cambodia, is featured in the “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” movies.


Stephanie (Coartney) Dulaney ’10 contributed to this story.