“International recruitment offices in higher education are making big strides by partnering with agents”

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Now here’s something you don’t see every day, an advertorial or infomercial, if you will, in The Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE), the weekly “bible” of US higher education.  Here’s the deal:  IDP, in this case, pays a lot of money ($11k) to place an article about how great it is for colleges and universities to work with education agents as a key part of their international student recruitment strategy.   This benefits CHE’s bottom line and IDP pushes its message out to anyone who’s anyone in US higher education and beyond.

When I first saw the headline and the article, my first reaction was “Wow!”, until I saw this caveat in small print a split second later:  Paid for and created by IDP.  This issue and IDP acquire a patina of honor, credibility, and respect by publishing this piece of paid advertising in an august publication, while the latter gets a wire transfer, obviously the short end of a stick that measures important intangibles in life. 

Memo to CHE:  In the future, increase the font size of the disclaimer and put it in bold red.

MAA

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Meet the new boss, similar to the old boss: new agent regulations unveiled in Vietnam

logo-newerVietnam is a country in flux and the international education sector is no exception. In fact, it is a case study of changes and reforms. Mark Ashwill, the MD of Capstone Vietnam, looks at the current regulatory system for education agencies and what consultants must do to succeed in this exciting market.

This is the introduction to my latest PIE News blog post.  Follow this link to read the article in its entirety.

MAA

HATCH! Fair the Fifth: Hanoi – Danang – HCMC

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Nam “Chris” Nguyen pitching College Scout at HATCH! Fair the Fifth

I had a great time at the the fifth HATCH! Fair in Hanoi.  I was there for part of the pitching competition in which young entrepreneurs have three (3) minutes to pitch their businesses to a jury board.  (Yes, it’s exactly three minutes.  They run a tight ship!)  There are three (3) more minutes for the judges to ask questions.  Last year, there were 305 applications and 54 “hand-picked startups”, an acceptance rate of 17.7%, not unlike that of the most selective colleges and universities in the US.  (UC Berkeley had a 2016 acceptance rate of 17.5%.)

IMG_2881It was an inspiration listening to so many ideas, some of which will be transformed into practice and others not.  The highlight was the pitch by Nam “Chris” Nguyen, of College Scout (CS), who finished with a few seconds to spare.  I was impressed by his energy, focus, and enthusiasm.  Congratulations to Nam for rocking it at the 5th HATCH! Fair!

What is College Scout (CS)? 

It’s a Hanoi-based ed-tech startup whose services include but also transcend preparing young people for overseas higher education admission.  Most companies focus on the latter.  In other words, the professional spotlight is what happens before they board the flight to their host country to begin their studies and a new life.  CS does that and much more.  Perhaps more importantly, it prepares students for academic, cultural, and social success in a new and often very challenging environment.  In doing so, it takes the long and holistic view of each young person as a student, future professional, and global citizen. 

CS logo

For families with students planning to study in North America, College Scout is a “one-stop readiness service”. Unlike traditional education agents and related companies that provide ancillary services related to overseas study, CS provides fun and effective prep activities that increase their chances for success not only in the application and admission process, but in the areas of academic, cultural, and social adjustment.  (Full disclosure:  I’m a proud member of the CS advisory board.) 

What is HATCH!?

According to its website, the mission of HATCH! is to support entrepreneurs and promote the early-stage startup ecosystem in Vietnam. By the end of 2013, HATCH! was among the top names for entrepreneurship development in Vietnam, with activities that have made dozens of international headlines; and, not just for the organization, but also for our innovative startups, and their founders and investors, as well as HATCH! partners and sponsors.

HATCH! is the brainchild of Aaron Everhart, who had this to say about the organization:  I’m pretty proud of building HATCH!, which grew from a small coffee-talk meeting in Ho Chi Minh City in 2012 to Vietnam’s largest and leading startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem builder. We’ve built it grass-roots using borrowed spaces, volunteer time, and instant coffee packets. Now we’re proud to be producing Vietnam’s only major international startup exhibition and conference, HATCH! FAIR each year…  Aaron’s tag line isI turn ideas into companies,” and he does! 

MAA

The Vietnam War – A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick

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No Single Truth?

This is the tag line of the latest documentary by Burns and Novick.  There are many stories to be told, mostly from the US American perspective because it’s usually “all about US,” but there is one truth, I believe:  the US should never have been in Viet Nam in the first place.  There should never have been a 2nd Indochina War that resulted in 3.8 million Vietnamese deaths and wholesale destruction of the infrastructure, flora, and fauna of Viet Nam, in addition to debilitating and deadly war legacies such as Agent Orange (AO) and Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) that continue to haunt Viet Nam. (AO, of course, has also affected US veterans who were exposed to this poison, along with many of their children.)

It started when the US made the decision to follow in the footsteps of the French by ignoring the Geneva Accords of 1954, which called for a national election in 1956.  President Ho Chi Minh would have received 80% of the vote, according to none other than President Dwight D. Eisenhower, thus unifying his country and ushering in an era of peace and development. US support of its client state, the Republic of Viet Nam (South Vietnam), ensured that the war against the latest invader and occupier du jour would continue until it was forced to pick up and leave, which it eventually did initially in 1973 and, finally, in 1975. 

There are lines that The Vietnam War does not cross because either the truth is beyond the comprehension and ideological confines of the filmmakers and/or because their corporate sponsors would not allow it.  This is part of a larger issue, namely, the inability of the US to overcome its past, unlike other countries, including Germany.  (Although Adolf Hitler is a part of German history, there are no statues of him in Germany only memorials to his millions of victims.  The US is still having this debate, e.g., statues of Confederate generals such as Robert E. Lee.) 

Here’s a story that Bill Ehrhart , who was interviewed for this series, encouraged people to share “far and wide.”  Ehrhart is a US poet, writer, scholar and war veteran who has been called “the dean of Vietnam war poetry.”  (He was a signatory to my 2016 letter calling on Bob Kerrey, a self-confessed war criminal, to resign from his position as chairman of the Fulbright University Vietnam board of trustees.  He eventually did in 2017.)

Dear Friends,

The day after I came home from Vietnam in early March 1968, I took the money I’d saved in those 13 months and went to West German Motors in Ft. Washington, PA, and bought a brand new Volkswagen. VW Beetle. Red with black interior.

Only I didn’t buy it. I had to give the money to my father, and he bought it because I was not legally old enough to buy a car. The owner’s card remained in my father’s name for the next year and a half until I turned 21, which was the age of majority then in Pennsylvania.

The day after that, I went to McKeever Insurance, in my home town of Perkasie, PA, to get insurance for my car. But Mrs. McKeever told me I couldn’t get a policy in my name. I would have to be carried on my parents’ policy as a dependent child.

Understand what I’m saying here: I had just spent 13 months fighting in Vietnam. I was a combat-wounded Marine Corps sergeant, but the state of Pennsylvania recognized me only as a child dependent on my parents.

Let me say that again: I had just spent 13 months fighting in Vietnam. I was a combat-wounded Marine Corps sergeant, but the state of Pennsylvania recognized me only as a dependent child.

You want to talk spat-upon? I sure as hell was spit on when I came home, but it wasn’t the antiwar people who did the spitting.

I begged Lynn Novick of Florentine Films to get this story on film and into their documentary, but you will not see this true story among the 18 hours of film you are about to watch. Instead, you will see and hear some teary-eyed woman apologizing for something there is no proof ever actually happened.

You are welcome to spread this story of mine far and wide. It’s the only way anyone will hear it because, as I said, it didn’t even make onto film, let alone into the documentary.

Bill

BONUS:  Here’s a post on the Vietnam Studies Group listserv by Christoph Giebel, an Associate Professor of International Studies and History at the University of Washington, Seattle, in a threaded- discussion about the film.

I have no problem with the depiction in episode 1 (and others) of Le Duan’s role. I have huge problems with episode 1 overall though. I watched it last night, prepared for some US centrism, to be sure, since this is a series heavily privileging American perspectives, experiences, feelings, but also anticipating to find the edgy “new take” by Burns/Novick that was so heavily promoted. Like with many books, I am particularly interested in the introduction and conclusion (episodes 1 and 10) for the “beef” of the argument, where the deep framing, contextualization etc. takes place

Episode 1 was, frankly, crushingly dispiriting in its unreflective depiction of ahistorical American exceptionalism and uncritical repetition of worn-out Cold War tropes and Western frames. Its flawed choice of key terminology and mapping and its condensation of extraordinarily complex issues over more than 100 years into 75 minutes, all marshaled to set up Burns’ “flawed, but innocently well-meaning” redemptionist narrative of the US, fell even short of the 1983 PBS series (which itself badly needs overhauling). After a decade of working on this, where is the damn novelty? I’ll need a bit of time to formulate my thoughts, but I must say that episode 1 was profoundly troubling.

C. Giebel
History / Int’l Studies
UW-Seattle, USA

MAA

The Great Truth Has Great Silence

Below are some thoughts about the US War in Viet Nam (the “Vietnam War”) from Mike Hastie, a war veteran whom I had the privilege of meeting in Ha Noi.  They were originally posted on the Vietnam Full Disclosure website in the context of the Burns/Novick PBS documentary, The Vietnam War.  It is Mike’s story but a common one – in broad strokes – told by many veterans of that war.

The Full Disclosure campaign is a Veterans For Peace effort to speak truth to power and keep alive the antiwar perspective on the American war in Viet Nam.  This is what US Americans, especially young people, should be learning about that war in an effort to come to terms with that part of their country’s past – in the spirit of Vergangenheitsbewältigung.

Thanks, Mike, for sharing, and for speaking truth to lies and to power.  

MAA 

I’m starting to watch the Burns/Novick documentary on PBS. I am visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Spokane, Washington, both of whom have health problems. I want to focus on them more, but they wanted to watch the second episode last night. I have read several articles about the PBS series, along with what people are posting on Full Disclosure. I am sure I am no different than most people. I have been somewhat hesitant to watch the Burns film, because I am away from my friends and support group back in Portland, Oregon. When I came back from Vietnam, I was eventually hospitalized in a psychiatric facility for PTSD, once in 1980, and in 1994 after I came back from my first return to Vietnam with three close friends who were also Vietnam veterans. One of those friends was involved in the Phoenix Program, where he was personally pulling the trigger on assassinations. Another friend in our group was involved in radio intercept. Halfway through his tour in Vietnam, he realized he was giving B-52 pilots coordinates in the bombing of civilian targets. When he realized he was involved in mass murder, he walked into the orderly room on his base, and told his company commander that his tour in Vietnam was officially over. Well, they threatened him with a court-martial, and even a firing squad, but he stuck to his guns, and told them to go fuck themselves. He was eventually sent back to the US as a psychiatric case, and wound up on a psyche ward at Madigan Army Hospital. His war was over, and he spent the next twenty years drinking heavily, and packing a pistol. He was basically suffering from the LIE of the Vietnam War, and the dismantling of his core belief system. He absolutely hated the US Government, and called the Pentagon a house of goons. He used profound articulate sarcasm to get through his day, as he referred to the American flag as a Nazi symbol riddled with madness. To this day, he is a person I have the utmost respect for, because he walked into his orderly room in Vietnam, and told people that he could no longer morally commit murder for corporate America. Now, run this voice through the 18-hour Burns documentary on The Vietnam War. This is not complicated, except for people who are still looking for a noble cause for America’s involvement in Vietnam. The LIE is the truth of the Vietnam War. That LIE put me in two psychiatric hospitals, and that is why I dearly love my friend, because he validated me to the core.

Before I went to Vietnam, I spent a year in Denver, Colorado at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital attending an advanced 41 week medic course. Fitzsimmons had a lot of amputees from Vietnam, as they were going through various stages of being severely wounded. I saw a lot of people in wheelchairs during the year that I was there. One experience I had, as we were involved in many medical rotations throughout the hospital, was my two-week rotation on the psyche ward. Many soldiers coming back from Vietnam were severely wounded psychologically, and the drug of choice was Thorazine. You could tell soldiers were on heavy doses of Thorazine, because they had the Thorazine shuffle. When soldiers did not respond to drugs ( if they ever would ), they often received shock therapy. As a student, I witnessed one of those high voltage treatments. I remember they brought this young American kid into the room on a gurney and we transferred him to the shock table. He was strapped down to the table, a padded tongue blade was put in his mouth. He was already on a sedative, but the nurses were there to give him as much comfort as they could. Electrodes were attached to his head, and the switched was executed. His body became very rigid, and he convulsed with jerking movements that seemed to elevate him off the table. What I saw in that moment, was the utter LIE of the entire Vietnam War in a nutshell. I wish Ken Burns had a clip of that shock therapy session in his 18-hour epic on The Vietnam War, as it would cut through a lot of bullshit ideological rhetoric. When you get away from emotional intelligence, and the incredible grief and sorrow of the Vietnam Holocaust, you are still discussing whether it was a noble cause. When I saw the end results of a couple of American soldiers commit suicide in Vietnam, and a good Vietnam vet friend hang himself in a motel room twenty years after he got back from Vietnam, I didn’t need anymore proof on whether it was a noble cause of not. I had the blood on my hands to prove it, and the emotional trauma of the LIE for a lifetime.

Mike Hastie
Army Medic Vietnam
September 20, 2017
Full Disclosure

“To many Vietnamese, US still a top overseas study destination in spite of Donald Trump”

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Check out the facts and figures on why so many students are heading state-side.

This is my latest English language article, written at the request of VNExpress International. I think it provides a pretty comprehensive update about the current situation for those with a personal and/or professional interest in the status of US-bound Vietnamese students.  (It’s an edited and expanded version of an article I wrote last July for University World News.)

Note the caveat in my concluding paragraph.  Why?  Because only God is perfect.  🙂

While the wave of interest in study in the U.S. will eventually break because of demographic and development-related factors, such as an aging population and an improvement in the quality of the domestic higher education system, demand is likely to continue to gain momentum, barring unforeseen political and economic circumstances. Since no one has a crystal ball, however, medium-term outcomes are anyone’s guess.

Here’s a link to the Vietnamese translation:  MỸ VẪN LÀ MỘT TRONG SỐ NHỮNG ĐIỂM ĐẾN DU HỌC HÀNG ĐẦU CỦA SINH VIÊN VIỆT NAM BẤT LUẬN ĐANG TRONG NHIỆM KÌ CỦA DONALD TRUMP

MAA

Global Learning in a Time of Increased Xenophobia and Extreme Nationalism

nafsa logoThis is the title of an upcoming webinar that is the first in NAFSA’s Academic Programs six-part Architecture for Global Learning – Series II.  Here is a brief description:

Many institutions integrate global learning into curricula and co-curricular programming with the goal of producing graduates capable of contributing solutions to global problems. However, institutional leaders, faculty, and managers of global learning environments now face mounting anti-international rhetoric and policy.

Join NAFSA Academic Programs for the first session in our six-part Architecture for Global Learning – Series II. Listen to and discuss the perspectives of leading international education scholars and practitioners on the state of global learning as we enter a period of increased populist and anti-international rhetoric and action. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with experienced and informed global learning specialists who will answer questions of how and why extreme nationalism affects global learning. Presenters will provide their views and responses to participant questions on how to continue to support and implement global learning pedagogies and programs that are under attack.

I agree that it is a time of “increased xenophobia” in many countries but disagree that nationalism, extreme or otherwise, is anything new, especially in the US.  In that sense, the title is a bit misleading.  US nationalism, which I discuss in a 2016 University World News article entitled US nationalism – The elephant in the room and elsewhere, is nothing new and certainly didn’t begin to rear its ugly and exclusionary head when Donald Trump was elected president last November.  In fact, I have argued that the term is frequently misused by some of my distinguished colleagues when what they are actually referring to is nativism

I am pleased, however, to see that these issues are being debated. Nationalism in general and as an elephant in the room of the international education profession should be a key point, if not the centerpiece, of any consideration of intercultural competence, essentially a skill set, and global citizenship, also a mindset.  It is a discussion that should have been launched a long time ago.

MAA