Agent Orange, Exposed: How U.S. Chemical Warfare in Vietnam Unleashed a Slow-Moving Disaster

More than 10 years of U.S. chemical warfare in Vietnam exposed an estimated 2.1 to 4.8 million Vietnamese people to Agent Orange. More than 40 years on, the impact on their health has been staggering.

Unlike napalm, which immediately scalded its victims, Agent Orange kills and maims slowly over time, its effects passed down through generations. U.S. Army Operations in Vietnam R.W. Trewyn, Ph.D/Wikimedia

Yes, this article is from 2017 but is still making the rounds and the damage wrought by this war legacy continues to affect generation after generation of Vietnamese.  If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend that you take a few minutes of your precious time to do so.

Shalom (שלום), MAA

Is Cost Really the Key Factor in the Decline of New Int’l Enrollments in the US?

open-doors-report-on-international-educational-exchange-56After the latest Open Doors report was released, Allan E. Goodman, president & CEO of the Institute of International Education (IIE), did his level best to spin the statistics by pointing to cost as the overriding factor in the decline of new international enrollments rather than the impact of the Trump Effect.  

While the total number was a record high of 1,095,299 in 2018/29, new student enrollments decreased by 0.9% for the third consecutive year.  Keep in mind that the Open Doors survey is conducted in the fall semester of the previous academic year, which means the data are always a year old when they’re released.  Like many other IIE activities, it is funded by the US State Department.  78.2% of the organization’s 2017 revenue was from “government grants.”

By highlighting cost and ignoring the orange elephant in the room, Goodman is being disingenuous, at best, in the spirit of “whose bread I eat, his song I sing” and, continuing with a culinary theme, not biting the hand that feeds you.  As issues go, cost has been one of the “usual suspects” for a very long time.  You can’t have an honest discussion about a decline in new international enrollments without talking about what Trump and his administration have said and done since he came to power.  The price some organizations and their leaders pay to keep the government-funded spigot flowing.  

The title of this Politico article is spot-on:  Growth in international student enrollment stalls under Trump administration.  Here’s a key excerpt:  Some U.S. college leaders have blamed White House rhetoric, visa delays and global tensions for discouraging overseas students. But officials who released the report downplayed those concerns and pointed to growing competition from abroad as well as the sheer price tag of a U.S. degree.  The truth may hurt at times but it’s far preferable to deflection and dissembling.  Another concern expressed by many parents and students in sending countries is epidemic of gun violence.  

OPT as a Puzzling Piece of the Puzzle

One point about Optional Practical Training (OPT) statistics.  While it’s true that if you subtract them from the total, there were 872,000 international students in the US last year not over 1 million, that number only includes HE not secondary and other enrollments.  If you add international secondary students to the mix, the US is still the world’s leading host of international students, for what that’s worth.   

Shalom (שלום), MAA


My Starbucks Story: Made in Viet Nam

1200px-Starbucks_Corporation_Logo_2011.svgDuring my first year or so in Viet Nam, i.e., I emailed Howard Schultz, then CEO of Starbucks.  I noticed that a number of coffee chains, including Trung Nguyen and Highlands, were charging Starbucks’ prices for coffee drinks, snacks, etc.  These cafes attracted Vietnamese of means who could easily afford a few dollars for a coffee, as well as expats and tourists.  It meant there was room in the market for a company like Starbucks – not in five or 10 years but now (then)!  

After sending my note to Mr. Schultz, which I considered a bit of free (multimillion-dollar) advice and nothing more, I received an intriguing reply from his assistant.  She asked if I had a background in the food and beverage industry (I didn’t) or in franchising (same answer).  That was the end of that.  Maybe I put a bug in their corporate ear or maybe Viet Nam was already on their radar.  

Amazingly, it wasn’t until early 2013, at least seven (7) years later after the email exchange, that Starbucks opened its first cafe in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in partnership with Hong Kong’s Maxim’s Group.  At that time, in addition to Trung Nguyen and Highlands Coffee, two foreign companies had entered the Viet Nam market, the US-based Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Australia’s Gloria Jean’s.  

I remember having a disappointing experience at the first cafe shortly after it opened.  It was clear that the employees were still being trained and that the quality of the drinks was not yet up to Starbucks’ high standards.  That quickly changed.  Consider it a growing pain of setting up shop in a new market.  

20191124_065141Since then, even more local coffee shops such as The Coffee House, Cộng Cà Phê, and Urban Coffee have opened their doors, making the coffee scene more competitive than ever. 

Starbucks celebrated its 5th anniversary last year and is expected to have a total of 45 stores in the near future in Danang, Haiphong, Hanoi, and HCMC.  The cafe near the Rex Hotel in HCMC may very well be the highest-grossing Starbucks in the country.  It was at 95% capacity on a recent evening.  

Shalom (שלום), MAA

May-September 2019 US Student Visa Update from Viet Nam

Modest Upward Trend Continues

us state dept sealI have some good news for those of you who are involved in the recruitment of US-bound Vietnamese students.  Since this is International Education Week (IEW) in the US, this is a fitting time to upload this post!  

Interest in study in the USA among Vietnamese parents and students remains high, as evidenced by the number of student visas issue from May through September of this year, the peak season.  This information is lieu of the SEVIS by the Numbers update, which should be out any day now, according to SEVP colleagues, whom I’ve emailed on several occasions.  

As of March 2019, there were 30,684 young Vietnamese studying in the US at all levels, most in higher education.  Viet Nam ranked 5th among sending countries.  

Consider this an addendum to an August 2019 update that covered the months of May, June, and July.  

May 2018: 1110
May 2019: 1223 (+10.18%)

June 2018: 3147
June 2019: 3148 (+.03%)

July 2018: 4942
July 2019: 5250  (+6.23%)

August 2018: 2754
August 2019: 2760 (+.22%)

September 2018: 405
September 2019: 435 (+7.41%)

May-September 2018: 12,358
May-September 2019: 12,816 (+3.71%)

The YOY increase over 2018 was 3.71%.  While modest, it does indicate forward momentum, which definitely qualifies as “good news” in challenging times.  

Source:  Monthly Nonimmigrant Visa Issuance Statistics (PDF download), US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs

Stay tuned!  

Shalom (שלום), MAA


Happy 10th Anniversary, IEVN!

Happy Anniversary with!
You registered on 10 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.


Wishing An International Educator in Viet Nam a Happy 10th!  2009 to 2019 is a lot of Information, Insights & (Occasionally) Intrigue.  Here’s to another decade of more of the same!  

10-year-logoNot surprisingly, the creation of this blog coincides with the founding of Capstone Vietnam, give or take a couple of months.  

Shalom (שלום), MAA

Announcing Capstone’s Spring 2020 StudyUSA & Canada Higher Education Fairs

gif-2And now a word from our sponsor…  🙂  I’m pleased to announce Capstone’s spring 2020 StudyUSA & Canada Higher Education Fairs, which will take place from 21 February to 1 March in Hanoi, Haiphong, Danang, Nha Trang, and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).  Please click on the ad on the left or the poster below for detailed information and online registration.  

Shalom (שלום), MAA

HE 2020-01 (1).jpg

The Importance of Showing International Applicants THE LOVE

Once upon a time, there was a Vietnamese transfer student in the US who was planning to attend one  university and ended up accepting an offer from another.  Here are the main reasons:  
1.  The other school has better communication with students, including sending them a note on their birthday and more frequent updates.  
2.  An adviser emailed the original school on behalf of the student with a question about the international student orientation and didn’t receive a response until 11 days later.  
3.  The student called the original school to ask about credit transfer.  She was instructed to contact “Jim,” academic adviser.  She emailed him and received an answer more than a week later.  
4.  While the student was waiting for the above information, she received an additional scholarship from another university. 
Game over!  Uni #2:  1; Uni #1: 0.
If it’s taking some time to reply for whatever reason, international admission colleagues might want to update students even if only to say that they’re checking and will let them know by a certain date.  
The bottom line, figuratively and literally, is that institutions need to show applicants the love because they have so many choices in what has become a very competitive market in most countries, including Viet Nam.  
Shalom (שלום), MAA