School of Anthropology
Hanoi, Vietnam 2006-2007
HIV/AIDS Harm Reduction Program Assessment in Hanoi, Vietnam
Stephen Koester, professor of anthropology and department chair, received a combined lecturing and research award at the Hanoi School of Public Health in Vietnam, where he assisted in developing BA and MPH curriculum and lecturing on HIV/AIDS, medical anthropology and qualitative research methods.
In addition to lecturing and designing curriculum in his areas of expertise, Koestler worked with government agencies and foundations to address issues related to HIV/AIDS and drug usage. These activities included:
- assisting the Vietnam Ministry of Health in developing an assessment of its HIV/AIDS harm reduction programs aimed at injection drug users
- working with the Asian Harm Reduction Network to design the government’s strategic plan for addressing HIV/AIDS among injection drug users in Vietnam
- conducting an assessment for the Ford Foundation on critical HIV/AIDS issues among the more than 45,000 drug users detained in rehabilitation centers in Vietnam
While living in Vietnam, Koester and his family learned more about the natural beauty of the region through traveling to national parks during school breaks. They also visited Angkor and Laos during their stay.
For Koestler, being in "North" Vietnam was an extraordinary experience. During the U.S.-Vietnam War, he had been an antiwar activist. During his Fulbright experience, he noted the absence of men of his own age in Hanoi; but he and his family never experienced anything that was even remotely hostile. Instead, the Vietnamese they knew were incredibly kind and "proud of their country".
“My wife, Yoshie and ten year old son, Tai accompanied me to Hanoi, and we lived down an alley across the street from Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum. All of our neighbors were Vietnamese. They were wonderful to us - always keeping an eye out while my son Tai waited for his school bus, teaching us Vietnamese and greeting us warmly whenever we passed by.”
- Stephen Koester
PhD, Department Chair, School of Anthropology