It was just over a year ago (i.e., 25 July 2009) that the first ever alumni conference for US-educated Vietnamese was held in Ho Chi Minh City. The conference announcement stated that “This historic conference will bring together Vietnamese alumni of regionally accredited US colleges and universities in order to learn about and celebrate their many achievements, discussion challenges, and create a roadmap for future activities and projects.”
In addition to alumni, the conference included high school and university students, an attempt to build cross-generational bridges and mentoring relationships.
The panel discussions focused on the following topics and issues:
- Reflections on the Study USA Experience
- Re-Entry Challenges Encountered and Overcome
- Alumni Contributions to Vietnam’s Development: A Cross-Generational Conversation
- Staying in Touch: The Benefits of Networking
- Creating a Roadmap for the Future
One of the most meaningful outcomes of the conference, a one-day gathering of some of the first Vietnamese to study in the US in the postwar era and some of the most recent returnees, was the establishment of an informal alumni group.
Below is a photo of US Ambassador Michael Michalak and me toasting alumni at a dinner reception.
Here are some excerpts from my remarks. (PDF download)