Global MSC Intensive – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

For the second year, the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion and the Global Engagement Incorporated (GEI) are honored to bring the MSC training to Vietnam. Together, we have created a unique opportunity for you to support local citizens and professionals to attend alongside you (at little or no cost) the same MSC program and, as a result, grow a local network devoted to compassion and self-compassion training. This is possible while you get to take the course yourself (for the first time, or as a repeat) and also to travel, study and experience the local culture, geography, and people.

What you take with you:

  • MSC skills that empower you to better navigate difficulties in your everyday life and relationships
  • A truly unique experience of international travel that allows you to connect on a meaningful level with people and local culture while you explore a new place 
  • A new understanding of how similar our human struggles and joys are everywhere in the world, regardless of culture, language, and geography

What you leave behind:

  • A group of local participants who had the opportunity to complete MSC training as a direct result of your attendance, planting seeds of compassion
  • Resources that help local caregivers, counselors, social workers and leaders care for themselves while tending to the particular needs of their communities
  • A local network that continues to expand awareness of MSC as some participants go on to teach self-compassion skills in their workplaces and social circles

Free Webinars: Learn More!

Find out how you can join CMSC to participate in the Mindful Self-Compassion program this spring by signing up to attend one of upcoming free webinars hosted by the teachers of the programs, the key representatives from our partner organizations in these countries, experts from the Global Engagement Institute (the program organizers) and key people from the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. Get your questions answered and ignite your imagination for how you might travel, learn and share in two fascinating and colorful parts of the world.

Dates to be determined. Check back soon!

Spring 2020
Intensive + optional extension

Exact date to be announced.
Please check back soon.
  • Day 1: Personal welcome at the airport and welcome dinner
  • Day 2: Program briefing | exploration of the city and the host culture
  • Day 3-6: MSC Intensive training for participants and local colleagues; training will take place in a retreat setting outside of the city, and transportation will be provided.
  • Days 7-8: Cultural highlight: Exploration of the Mekong Delta
  • Day 9: Free time, personal farewell at the airport (or start of an optional post-program extension)
  • Day 10-13: Optional Extension (view itinerary here.)

Ho Chi Minh Itinerary*

View Complete Itinerary above

Extension Itinerary*

View Optional Extension Itinerary above
* Specific travel arrangements may be subject to change and will be confirmed well in advance of the event.

“A major highlight of the training was to hear the experience shared by local delegates — and recognize the universal inner critic that visits us all.  It felt good to know that my tuition made it easier for locals to attend.”
– GEI international participant

“I felt that my participation was a possibility to get a glimpse of cultural aspects connected with self-compassion and challenges that have to do with Western vs Eastern cultures. I feel that the course has been very enriching, and especially doing it in this cultural atmosphere in Southern Vietnam.”

– GEI international participant

The Location

Today’s Vietnam is undergoing some of the fastest socio-economic changes any country in the world has seen. The Asian Dragon, as it is frequently called, is a major development success story that has experienced remarkable rates of economic growth since the start of massive political and economic reforms called doi moi in 1986. After 40 years of wars, economic recovery and the rebuilding of the infrastructures were for obvious reasons top priorities. At the same time, the lure of modern living has a deep impact on the traditional networks of family and community that continue to play a pivotal role in Vietnamese society. More than half of the population of over 90 million is under the age of 26. Major developmental challenges have emerged, ranging from rapidly growing inequality to environmental degradation, depletion of natural resources, rapid urbanization and corruption. Especially in urban areas, the Vietnamese increasingly question the old Confucian principles upheld in what continues to be nominally a communist society. And women in particular struggle to redefine their place in a country that was traditionally driven by a strong patriarchal system that emphasized male leadership. Also, Western-inspired technology and development have put a very strong emphasis on the outer and material dimensions of wellbeing, but the inner dimension that has always been a the heart of Asian cultures and philosophy seems to be largely forgotten. This is where the work of our local partner gets in. It is this vibrant and at times explosive environment that forms the exciting backdrop for this program. The program gateway is Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, Vietnam’s largest city with almost 10 million inhabitants and today the economic and cultural center of the country. Pulsating with energy, Ho Chi Minh City is a place of contrasts. Next to the timeless alleys with Buddhist temples and street vendors are modern designer malls and sleek skyscrapers. Ho Chi Minh City is the perfect embodiment of modern-day Vietnam – and the ideal place to start to explore Vietnamese culture with opportunities to witness the new development paradigm of today’s society. Included in our program is a group exploration of Ho Chi Minh City, time for personal explorations and an overnight excursion to the Mekong Delta. The optional Cambodia extension will visit the world-famous Angkor region that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire from 802 to 1431. Today protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area contains over a thousand temples, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields and forests to the magnificent Angkor Wat, the world’s largest single religious monument.

Our Partner

In Ho Chi Minh City, CMSC has started in 2017 a cooperation with our local partner “Authentic Live & Learn” (ALL), a network of trainers and practitioners who promote happiness and compassion in the field of education and business in Vietnam. ALL originated from the “Seeds of Happiness Project”, Hoa Sen University, Vietnam, which had three years of experience transforming this institution of 10,000 students into a more holistic education of not only the head but also the heart. After three years of successful implementation, ALL’s network has now received strong interest from other institutions who wish to transform the way they work and learn. Their biggest project in 2018 is the Happy School Project, done in collaboration with Eurasia Learning Institute for Happiness and Well-being (ELI) to incorporate Social and Emotional Learning in the classroom. After a successful pilot MSC course earlier in 2018 with ALL’s network, CMSC has decided to grant two of ALL’s trainers with scholarships for MSC teacher training. The shared vision is that MSC can reach not only ALL members, and their network of Vietnamese teachers, but also thousands of students under their care to pursue their vision of a happy and compassionate Vietnam. “Dear friends, Dear friends, Let me tell you how I feel, You have given me such treasures, I love you so… I love you so…”. This lovely song ended the MSC Intensive in 2018 with international and Vietnamese delegates holding hands in a warm and compassionate atmosphere of common humanity. The course received representatives from 11 educational entities, 7 companies, 3 NGOs, and other organizations. Focusing on the educational sector in Vietnam, the work of MSC impacts not only the teachers, a population with low pay and an extremely high burn-out rate but also thousands of students under their care. After the success of the 2018 program, CMSC, GEI, and ALL have decided to further their collaboration so that MSC can reach a larger audience. It is with great hopes that our partner continues to spread the work of MSC in Vietnam’s education so that they can build their future society on a platform of well-being.


Steve Hickman, Executive Director of CMSCSteven Hickman, Psy.D., is the Executive Director of CMSC and the co-developer of the MSC Teacher Training program. Steve has been teaching mindfulness, in the form of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, for nearly 20 years and is the Founding Director of the University of California at San Diego Center for Mindfulness. Steve is a world authority on training teachers of mindfulness and compassion and joined CMSC as the Director of Professional Training in 2014. Steve has taught MSC courses across the US and around the world and has trained hundreds of MSC teachers in the US, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Korea and Australia. When asked what motivates him to do this work, he replied: “There is no deeper honor than to be witness to a person discovering their own inner compassionate voice and their deep capacity for being kind to themselves, often after decades of self-criticism, self-hatred, and debilitating shame.”

Cassondra Graff, M.S., LCSWis a Certified, Senior teacher of MSC and MBSR at the University of California at San Diego Center for Mindfulness. She is also the Director of the Speakers Bureau and teaches MBSR for a long-range National Institutes of Health (NIH) research study evaluating the potential benefits of mindfulness in the senior aging process. Cassondra works closely with the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, CMSC. With over 22 years of experience as a mental health practitioner, Cassondra had a private practice and also mentored therapists for the California state licensing exam. Her work transformed over the years, becoming mindfulness and compassion based. When asked why she does this work, she replied “I cannot, not do this work. It is tied to the way I live, truths I cannot deny.  It is a joy to witness us humans discover our own strengths and capacities, and in this, become more alive and thrive. MSC offers skills and wisdom needed to effect real growth, real freedom.”

Recorded webinar about GEI – Vietnam: October 2018