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2018 Seminars

HVIET 2018

seminars & Seminar leaders

Hey everyone, my name's Bryan, a graduating senior studying stem cell biology, and I'm really excited to be a seminar leader in HVIET and get to know you! I am originally from Lima, Peru but moved to sunny Florida when I was seven. At Harvard, I've been super involved researching at a genome editing lab, organizing social events for Latino student organizations, editing and publishing student-led research for the Harvard Undergraduate Research Journal, playing the violin for Harvard Mariachi, and designing graphics for our school newspaper, the Harvard Crimson. In my free time, I love to play the violin, go hiking, and learn new languages.


Aging and the Biological Fountain of Youth

In this course, we will thoroughly explore and examine the phenomenon of aging from an interdisciplinary perspective. Participants will be exposed to the challenges that an aging population poses socially and economically and collectively propose strategies that policymakers might take to address them, such as rising healthcare costs, determining how healthcare must be rationed, and decreases in a productive labor force. We will also investigate the biology behind aging in order to understand the cutting-edge research that is attempting to reverse aging. We will also discuss controversial topics such as gene editing, cell therapy, and gene therapy. By the end of the seminar, participants will have a multifaceted understanding of how aging works and whether it is possible to reverse it.

Bryan peacker

Hi everyone! My name is Brian (unlike the other Bryan), currently a freshman studying Government, and I'm really excited to join HVIET as a seminar leader this summer! I was born in Busan, South Korea and moved to America when I was 9 years old -- which is exactly one of the reasons why I wanted to have a seminar about Korea! I'm also a politics enthusiast, and one of the things that I've been doing here on campus is assisting research on the politics of North Korean refugees . I'm also an active member in the school's Institute of Politics, and am currently serving as a liaison to one of the resident fellows, Ed Gillespie, who used to work for President George W. Bush. Outside of school, I love to play board and card games with friends. I also love to travel -- this will be my first time in Southeast Asia, and I'm super excited about it! I look forward to meeting you all, and cheers to this summer!


Korea and Vietnam: A Case Study of Comparison in the Global Era

K-POP. Pho. These two things probably represent best of Korea and Vietnam
respectively, but why does that matter? Despite the differences in each country's symbols, the stories of these two small countries actually resemble in astonishing fashions. From their relationship to Chinese dynasties for hundreds of years, controlled by an imperialist power, waging war against its own peoples over clashes of political ideologies, to the miraculous economic growth, Korea and Vietnam go beyond the global raves over K-POP and pho. But do these countries only relate because of the historical events they’ve faced? Or are there some intimate elements within these people that make these distant countries similar to each other? In a world dominated by hyper-nationalism and populism (most famous example: President Donald Trump), there has been an increase in tendency to view the world in a very narrow scope. This seminar will teach YOU, the students, how to look at the world in an appreciative and understanding way -- by drawing personal experiences and knowledge of familiar cultures -- and apply to a different country, and in this case will be Korea. The world is beautiful, and your appreciation and love for it will (hopefully) grow one step at a time -- and I hope to help you start that journey by introducing you to Korea.

brian kim

Hi there! My name is Azraa and I am a senior at Harvard College studying Molecular and Cellular Biology. I am originally from New York City but I now call Cambridge, Massachusetts home. While I love thinking about the microscopic activity of cells in my classes, I also really enjoy my activities outside the classroom. I currently advise freshmen at Harvard on the college transition and work as an Emergency Medical Technician with Harvard's collegiate EMS group. In my free time, I love to travel and most recently spent a week hiking in Costa Rica. I also enjoy cooking and taking photos. I cannot wait to meet all of you and am looking forward to an exciting few weeks together!


Psychopaths, Schizophrenics, and Stigma in the Media: How the Portrayal of Mental Illness in Films Diverges From Clinical Presentation

Are all mass murders psychopaths? Is multiple personality disorder a real thing? Can love cure bipolar disorder? This seminar will address portrayals of mental health illnesses in the media through the analysis of popular films including Psycho, Silver Linings Playbook, A Beautiful Mind, and Shutter Island. Students will first be exposed to an overview of psychopathology and how mental illnesses are defined. Students will then watch clips of popular films depicting mental illness and interrogate the symptoms to understand how closely they align with diagnosis criteria presented in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Students will also consider how the representation of mental illness in the media affects the creation of stereotypes and perpetuation of stigma related to these disorders.

azraa chaudhury

Hi guys, my name is Ellen and I'm a junior studying Integrative Biology. I'm super excited to be a seminar leader in HVIET and to get to know you all! I've lived in all parts of America from the East Coast to South to Midwest. At Harvard, I'm very involved in research, public service in the Boston community, and creative writing. In my free time I enjoy baking, eating, and hanging out with friends. I'm especially looking forward to doing the last two in Vietnam!


Modern Civilization & the Rise of Heart Disease

As society progresses with technology literally at the touch of our fingertips, clean water with the turn of a knob, heat radiating easy and fast, and more, there is also a growing epidemic. Heart disease is a growing epidemic throughout the world. Despite great strides to in prevention and therapy, heart diseases will undoubtedly be a major contributor in death and disability throughout the next century. It’s true that advances in the research and study of heart diseases has powerfully changed society and daily behavior. Yet, at the same time, the modernization of society has contributed to the same rise in heart disease. In this seminar, we will explore how factors ranging from catheters and tobacco has contributed to the role heart diseases play in our lives today. This seminar is appealing to those interested in government (health policy) technology (medical / drug innovation), globalization, and more. Most importantly, students will understand how heart disease has and continues to plays a vital role in Vietnam. While students interested in all fields will be able to find a place to voice their thoughts, this seminar is also directly applicable to the personal lives of individuals. We will explore how exercise, diet, society, and other major lifestyle factors play a complicated role in health and society. There will be plenty of opportunities for students to build communication, presentation, collaboration, and critical thinking skills.

ellen zhang

I was born in Lithuania (+50 respect points if you know where it is), graduated high school in the UK, now study in the US - all these international experiences make me passionate about my seminar, and eager to learn even more from you. If you see me around, discuss politics, law, newest genetics inventions, or anything related to Europe with me. Also, feel free to ask for my banana bread recipe - people say it's "heavenly"


Knowledge is Power: International Politics of Power and Development

What is power in international politics? Are bigger countries always more powerful? What are the United Nations and how they impact our daily lives? Is there a magic recipe for a successful development of a country? Join this seminar and through discussions and case studies become international relations guru.

Justas Jasevicius

Hi everyone! My name is Deriam and I was born and lived in a small town within the Peruvian Andean region before moving to the United States for High School. I study Economics at Harvard and my ultimate goal is to return to my country and work in Government (if any of you want to work in jobs related to Economics or Government, let me know and we can talk about it). That aside, while many of you may first think of me as a serious person, I'm actually quite easy to get along - especially if I start talking about my childhood days! For example, when I was about 8 years old I used to have a lot of animals (rabbits, guinea pigs, cows, goats, chickens, etc) and I really loved playing with them. I remember one time I had just finished watching a movie about the European Middle Ages and wanted to replicate the fight between two knights in a horse. So what I did was to get one of my cats to ride on top of my dog and pretend it was a "Knight in a horse." Of course, this didn't really work out well because my cat got a bit too annoyed and started scratching me instead of playing along with me. Looking back at stories like these, however, made me appreciate a lot of things in my life and I hope you will also feel the same way. I really look forward to meeting all of you!


International Trade and Globalism

This seminar aims to teach about international trade and globalization. Through several lessons and interactive games, we will learn about the importance of international trade. Furthermore, we will learn about Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the benefits of trade, and the impact world events can have on trade. We will discuss important topics relating to scarcity and comparative advantages, and how these affect a country’s decision to trade with other nations.

Deriam Chirinos

Rufaro is a sophomore Classics concentrator who loves politics. He is a news junkie who knows something about everything, and is great to have on a trivia team! He loves to give recommendations about stuff, so ask him about anything, movies, music, books, and even youtube channels!


From Heliography to the Selfie : A Brief History of Photography

This class will cover all things photography! While maintaining a historical perspective, the class will go over the development of photography up to contemporary times. Students will learn the basic science of photography and the art of how to make a beautiful photograph. Then they will explore the significance of photography in modern social interactions and the ethics around it! If you like a good selfie, this is the class for you!

Rufaro Jarati

I am Dogus Mordeniz, and I am from the beautiful city of Istanbul in Turkey. Actually, Istanbul is the only city located in both Asia and Europe, and I had to switch continents to go to my high school. Although I have primarily been interested in studying engineering, music has always played an important part in my life. I began to take my first piano lessons when I was nine, and learned to play different instruments since then. I have performed in the regional concerts and special occasions at my high school. Amidst the intense workload of my classes, I didn’t have as much time to practice during college, however I still pursued my interest by taking music classes and regularly attending concerts. Additionally, I was involved in ballroom dancing team and Candela Latin Dance Group. I love all sorts of music and dancing and am looking forward to the opportunity of learning about traditional Vietnamese music and dances.


Musical Journey Across Centuries: An Exploration of Western Classical Music

With this seminar, I hope to give you an understanding and deeper appreciation for some of the most influential musical ideas that have altered the way we listen to music. We will focus on the prominent characters from western classical music history and explore the influences, motivations, and aspirations in the production of some of the masterpieces. We will build a vocabulary to critically listen and analyze music while examining what music has meant for different people and organizations across ages. We always have music in our lives, and it will be interesting to observe the development of it from the Gregorian chants in 13th century to the minimalistic pieces by Steve Reich. We will listen to music by composers such as but not limited to Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Debussy, Brahms and Berlioz.

Dogus Mordeniz


Hi all! I am a sophomore in Eliot House at Harvard. I am currently in Penang, Malaysia traveling around the country and I am excited to visit Vietnam in a few days. I am half-Chinese so I have been to China many times, but I am not too familiar with other parts of Asia. I am excited to share some of academics interests and experiences as a college student in America. I have wide-ranging interests from science and economics to government and history. Outside of the classroom, I like to play ultimate frisbee and watch all kinds of sports. I look forward to meeting you all in a few days' time!


STEM Policy: Science in Government

What role does science and technology play in your life? What benefits do innovations
convey on our quality of life? What dangers do automation and overreliance on machination
present? How should we confront these threats while continuing to facilitate the development of beneficial technology? In this seminar we will address all of these questions and more while placing special emphasis on the ways in which technological developments and policy decisions affect your personal lives. By engaging in interactive activities that discuss the merits of different regulation and then put these discussions into practice, you will be able to critically examine the role public policy plays in the development of the STEM field.

William Quan

Hello! My name is Amanda and I am originally from Sri Lanka. When I was little, I moved to a small town in the United States before moving to Cambridge for college. I study Government focusing on political theory and international relations. I also enjoy studying philosophy, English, and psychology. I love chatting about these subjects among others, so come find me in the dining area and we can chat! Some of my favorite memories at Harvard are the long, unexpected conversations that happen when I meet someone in the dining hall.


Leading though Narrative

In this course, we will explore what it means to be a leader and how to lead authentically. We will then reflect inwardly and dig deep into our own sources of motivation and our calls to leadership. This course will give students the foundation to craft public narratives and create a call to action for the communities they are trying to inspire.

amanda dias-jayasinghe

Hello!!! My name is Sam and I'm incredibly excited to be a Seminar Leader for HVIET 2018! Some of you may remember me from HVIET 2017, but I can't wait to see all of the new faces who will be entering the program for their first time! I am currently a senior at the college studying Neurobiology, but my interests range from studying international films to hip-hop/traditional dance. I also really like changing my hair color, so you may see me walking around with an interesting head of hair. As they say, blondes have more fun :D


The State of Mental Health in Asia

Mental health is a term that makes headlines and is a prevalent issue, but what exactly is it? How do we define someone as mentally "healthy" versus "unhealthy" and what tools do we use to do so? This seminar will explore the issues surrounding global mental health identification and care, with a specific focus on recent trends in Asian countries. We will also workshop and experiment with how we can better improve and build upon current mental health systems using ideas from other areas.

samuel oh


Welcome everyone to the HVIET Summer Program. My name is Nhu and I’m a freshman at Harvard studying Integrative Biology and Sociology. This summer, I’m very excited to join the HVIET family and help bring the most fun and memorable liberal arts education experience to highly motivated Vietnamese high school students. In my free time, I love to read, swim, and marvel at the beauty of nature. Feel free to reach out to me via email with any questions or if you just need someone to walk with to relieve stress!


A Global Approach to Human Trafficking and Refugee Crisis

In this seminar, we directly confront one of the world’s most atrocious and excruciating crime—human trafficking. Today, 40 million people worldwide are entrapped in modern servitude, ranging anywhere from forced labor, forced marriage, sex trafficking, to cross-border trafficking as a result of migration. Despite countless government, NGOs, and philanthropists’ interventions, the 21 st century witnesses an increasing number and degree of severity of modern human trafficking crimes. Although we can easily dismiss this problem as a “global threat” in some rural, war-torn corners elsewhere, many of us fail to recognize that human trafficking is not a far-fetched, charity-popularization phenomenon, but rather a danger right by our sides. In fact, here in Vietnam, teenage girls and young bribes in rural areas are constantly lured into bridal trafficking business. The tantalizing stories that are remnants of their death, suicide letters, and hopeless tears on the foreign land, both haunt us and raise a mandatory social responsibility—the responsibility to be aware of and help fight trafficking crimes.

Nhu Dang

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