Xuân Mậu Tuất 2018: Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! Happy Lunar New Year!

Chúc mừng năm mới an khang, thịnh vượng, dồi dào sức khỏe, thành đạt, và cuộc đời tràn đầy hạnh phúc!

Wishing you a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous, Rewarding, & Successful New Year!

cover Tet.jpg

Advertisements

R.I.P. Michael Cull: A Life Well-Lived

I received a very sad but not totally unexpected message last night from my friend, Chuck Searcy, informing me and many others that Mike had died at 8:50 EST (8:50 p.m. Viet Nam time) of pancreatic cancer, after slipping into a coma almost four hours earlier.  Here’s what Chuck wrote, which best sums up the kind of person Mike was and what many of us will remember about him:

Mike’s gentle spirit, his kindness that gave way to moments of indignation and anger when he saw injustices, and his good humor and contagious laugh will comfort us as warm memories of a good friend, a Vietnam veteran who gave much back to Viet Nam over the past two decades.

 

mike friendship village
Mike with a young friend at the Friendship Village in Ha Noi, where he worked as a volunteer for many years helping children and veterans who were dealing with medical and other problems believed to be caused by Agent Orange.

maa FB pic

I remember meeting Mike for the first time on a beautiful sunny day in Nha Trang, where he lived and worked.  I was wearing a New York Yankees cap, not because I’m a fan but because I needed a hat.  A New England guy, Mike was a loyal fan of the Boston Red Sox, archrival and mortal enemy of the Yankees.  His first comment after “Hi, great to meet you!” was about my cap.  I assured him that it was only to protect my follicly-challenged head from the tropical sun, not a display of team loyalty.  🙂

I enjoyed hearing and reading, since most of our contact was via email and Facebook, his comments about important issues of the day and from the past.  One of the things we had in common was our love of and respect for Viet Nam.  Another one was what Chuck referred to as kindness giving way to moments of indignation and anger when we saw injustices.  Mike was a soul mate in that respect.  I will miss his passion and honest feedback.

It seems as if many of my US expat friends, few in number, are veterans of the American War in Viet Nam who have returned to Viet Nam to do penance, so to speak.  I counted Mike among them.  Below is a photo taken by Catherine Karnow at General Võ Nguyên Giáp’s state funeral in October 2013.  From left to right:  Mike Cull, Manus Campbell, MAA, and Chuck Searcy.
K49A2239.jpg
Photo by Catherine Karnow
Here is a story in English and Vietnamese entitled The Long Goodbye written by Manus, who spent nearly two months with Mike and his wife, Lan, from the day he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer to the moment he passed away.  

I will miss his playfulness, the sparkle in his eye, and his smile.

Don’t say goodbye.  Say see you again, my brother

-Manus Campbell

Life goes on and people like Mike Cull inspire us to be grateful for each and every day and to keep our eyes on the prize of what’s truly important in this exceedingly short journey we call life. 

 

My heartfelt condolences to Lan, Mike’s Vietnamese and US families, and his many friends in Viet Nam, the US, and around the world. 

 

MAA

Season’s Greetings from Viet Nam!

2017 holiday message

After yet another year of Information, Insights & (Occasionally) Intrigue, I would like to take a moment to wish you, dear reader, and your family a peaceful holiday season full of joy and cheer, and a Happy, Healthy, & Fulfilling Solar New Year! 

giang sinh 2017

While we may have different backgrounds and work in different fields and sectors, we are united by our interest in Viet Nam and our hope for its continued progress on the path to sustainable development.  

MAA

 

Fall 2017 EducationUSA Community College Fairs

EdUSA CC fair 2017.png

This fall, EducationUSA, i.e., US Mission-Viet Nam through its Embassy in Hanoi and Consulate in HCMC, is organizing a community college fair series in three cities in southern and central Viet Nam.  According to the official description,

The series will offer opportunities to meet students in three major cities where demand for this sector of U.S. higher education is growing. Vietnam is now the 2nd leading country of origin for students at community colleges in the United States and the 6th leading country of origin for international students overall. Registration is open now to all accredited U.S. community colleges.

(As of June 2017, Viet Nam ranks 5th among all sending countries, having displaced Canada in March.  Read this 25 June 2017 VNExpress International article and this 7 July 2017 University World News article for up-to-date information.)

The cities and dates are as follows:

  • HCMC on 3 October
  • Can Tho on 4 October
  • Hue on 6 October

While it has been decreasing in recent years, demand for community colleges (CC) as a pathway to four-year institutions and a Bachelor’s degree remains strong among Vietnamese parents and students, especially in these regions of the country.  According to the latest (June 2017) SEVIS by the Numbers update, 30% of all Vietnamese students in the US are enrolled in a CC while 29.7% are studying at a four-year college or university.  (In 2009/10, 90% of all Vietnamese undergrads started out at a CC.)

may 2017 ed level breakdown VN
June 2017 SEVIS by the Numbers Update

Clearly, the most promising location among the three is HCMC, which is where the majority of CC students are coming from.  There are far fewer students coming from the other two cities because of less ability to pay and a higher visa denial rate.  This fair series is an example of a probable mismatch between US State Department and US community college goals.  The former are focused on outreach as a manifestation of the exercise of soft power while the latter are here to recruit students for their institutions.

MAA 

 

 

New Rector of the VNU-Hanoi University of Education

VNU - Cong bo hieu truong Truong DH Giao duc (11)
Prof. Thanh with Prof. Nguyễn Kim Sơn, President of Vietnam National University-Hanoi (Photo courtesy of VNU-Hanoi)

Congratulations to Professor Nguyễn Quý Thanh on his appointment as rector of the VNU-Hanoi University of Education, one of Viet Nam’s most important institutions of higher education.  It was my pleasure and honor to be a guest at this ceremony last week.  Dr. Thanh, who previously served as director of the VNU Institute for Quality Assurance (INFEQA) in Hanoi, is an excellent choice, in my opinion.

VNU - Cong bo hieu truong Truong DH Giao duc (3).jpg
Photo courtesy of VNU-Hanoi

MAA

Riding the Wave: An Update on Student Recruitment in Vietnam

Below is an announcement about an unofficial pre-NAFSA 2017 annual conference seminar that I’ll be leading in Los Angeles. 

MAA


logo-chuan-reaching_blue-crop

Riding the Wave: An Update on Student Recruitment in Vietnam

A Pre-NAFSA Annual Conference Seminar

Co-Sponsored by Cal State, Long Beach, Cal State, Los Angeles, & Study in the USA

Date:  Monday, May 29, 2017                                                      Time: 10 a.m.- 12 noon

Seminar Leader:  Dr. Mark Ashwill, Managing Director, Capstone Vietnam

maa_0340resized

Content:  A comprehensive overview of current market conditions, recruitment tools and techniques and different types of recruitment strategies.

Location:  California State University, Los Angeles, Downtown Center (Address will be provided to participants.)  Refreshments will be served.

Free of charge

Follow this link for online registration

Eligibility:  Only regionally accredited institutions may participate, in accordance with Capstone’s policy.

cal-state-lb-logocal-state-la-logo

susa-logo

Latest Executive Order Undermines America’s Safety & Values (NAFSA)

To the students, scholars, doctors, refugees, family members and others who wonder if the United States has lost its commitment to its core values as a nation of freedom, opportunity and welcome, let me unequivocally state that American citizens will not tolerate policies such as these that undermine our values and endanger our safety. We understand that America is part of the global community, and we will raise our voices with Congress, with the White House, with the media and in our communities to continue to adhere to the principles that have always made us strongest.

nafsaI was very pleased and heartened to see this statement from Esther Brimmer, Executive Director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, about Donald Trump’s executive order banning US entry of “thoroughly-vetted refugees and citizens of seven nations in the Middle East and Africa, undermining the nation’s long-held values and making America less safe.”

In the past, NAFSA’s leadership has been hesitant to voice criticism of US government (USG) policies or actions not because the organization receives any funding from the USG but because of “relationship,” according to a reliable source.  This reflected the previous executive director’s/CEO’s management style.

For example, I don’t recall hearing an official peep from NAFSA after the US invaded and occupied Iraq based on the WMD lie.  In fact, NAFSA invited a senior State Department political appointee aka neocon to speak at its 2003 annual conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The gist of his speech was the one can no longer claim “to hate this government’s policies but love the country,” as if government and country were one.  I wrote a related radio commentary entitled Patriotism in Troubled Times that aired later that summer.  (It occurs to me that this applies to the current regime.  Just substitute government with president and administration.)

Follow this link to read the 30 January 2017 NAFSA press release in its entirety. Thanks to Esther Brimmer for speaking truth to power and saying what needs to be said in a forceful and eloquent manner.  The profession and the country need more people like her.

MAA