Interview with Seminar Leader Marie Holden

Hi, my name is Marie and I’m from Oslo, Norway. However, since 2014 I have spent most of my time abroad, studying with Kulturstudier all over the world before spending several years in Sweden. After I finished my masters degree in International Administration and Global Governance at the University of Gothenburg in 2022 I moved to Hoi An to work as a seminar leader for the course Development Studies 1. One semester turned into five semesters, and I can confidently recommend a stay in Hoi An to anyone. It’s an easy town to love and a hard town to leave.  

My role in Hoi An is to support the students academically, arranging academic seminars, planning guest lectures and fieldtrips, supervising group assignments and assisting the professors. But also, to support the students with any other issues that comes up when you move to study in a new country. Together with my fellow seminar leader(s) and our field manager we also arrange social activities throughout the semester. 

From your point of view, in what way is the course of developmental studies relevant for students?

From my point of view, studying development studies is relevant no matter what you choose to work with or study at a later point as it emphasizes critical thinking and continued questioning of perceived truths. Moreover, development studies provide you with tools to make sense of both local and global structures, which I think is essential to understand the tensions we are seeing in today’s global, but maybe increasingly protectionist, world.

Does its location in Vietnam and South-East Asia have an influence on the course?

Lectures and seminars are strongly influenced by the fact that the course is in Vietnam, and examples from the region are used in lectures and seminars. Additionally, we do field trips around Da Nang/Hoi An and spend two days visiting an ethnic minority. The location of the course in Vietnam offers a unique learning experience as students could easily apply theories to what they observe around them. Which essentially is what they do for their final group paper. 

What is your favourite part of teaching/being associated with this course?

Living in a country that has stayed resilient through decades of war, experienced great economic growth under communist rule, and where you could have incredible 1$ noodles on a plastic chair for breakfast and then equally incredible Michelin star food for dinner just around the corner, I learn something every single day. 

Moreover, seeing the epiphany in students’ eyes when they get a realization after struggling to understand something gets to me every time and makes this job seem very meaningful.

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