Gun Violence & Study in the USA

gun-related homicides

I spoke to some students last Friday at a top private high school in Hanoi about overseas study.  Among the small group that was planning to study overseas, they mentioned Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and New Zealand as potential destinations.  Not one expressed interest in studying in the US.  When I asked why, they mentioned the following reasons:  too many guns, gun violence, shootings, high cost, and their view that US Americans are not friendly. 

A day later, there was a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead, including Holocaust survivors.  Some of the students’ impressions and worst fears were confirmed – yet again.  (The jury is out on the overall impact of these negatives on study in the USA among parents and students in Viet Nam, though there is a discernible shift taking place to Canada.)  As of August 2018, there were nearly 30,000 young Vietnamese studying in the US, a slight decrease from December 2017.  In addition, the number of student visas issued in the past year, ending on 30 September 2018, dipped by 5-6%, a possible harbinger of future enrollment decreases.)  

For Many, Perception is Reality

Aside from the tragic loss of human life at the hands of people who hate and have easy access to guns, including assault rifles, widespread gun violence, including mass shootings, are a PR disaster that is not going away anytime soon.  This issue weighs heavily on the minds of students and parents who might otherwise be interested in the US as a potential overseas study destination.  

top 10 gun-owning countries

Sadly, out of the world’s 251,000 gun deaths every year, six countries are responsible for more than half of those deaths, including the US.  The other five countries are Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guatemala.  The US is #1 among its peer countries in the industrialized world in the number of deaths due to gun violence.  (Note that those countries have weaker economies and institutions, e.g., criminal justice systems.  The study from which this information was obtained excludes deaths from war, terrorism, executions, and police.)  

For many students and parents considering study in the USA, perception is reality.  Do mass shootings occur everywhere?  Of course not.  Is the US the most statistically dangerous country in the industrialized world in terms of gun violence?  It’s not even close.  Are Australia, Canada, Germany, and other countries statistically safer?  Absolutely.  

Especially from an outsider’s perspective, the US love affair with guns is puzzling and widely viewed as a form of collective insanity.  Aside from presidential talk of “shithole countries” and other insults not likely to be forgotten or forgiven, this is one of the contributing factors to the perception that the US is unsafe and generally unfriendly. 

Whitewashing reality, along with with “thoughts and prayers,” ain’t gonna do the trick.  Those US colleagues who don’t think this is one of a number of factors in the perfect storm (read nightmare) that is international student recruitment for US educational institutions in these turbulent times have their heads buried in the sand, preferring to live in a state of denial.  

world view post iheJust like saying something doesn’t make it so, ignoring or trivializing reality doesn’t make it any less real and threatening.  Speaking of which, you might be interested in reading a blog post entitled #YouAreWelcomeWhere? A Call to Action, which I wrote for The World View, sponsored by the Boston College Center for International Higher Education and hosted by Inside Higher Ed.  

Shalom (שלום), MAA


An ethical approach to commissions-based recruitment

uwn ashwill west

Below is the unabridged version of an article with the above title that Eddie West and I wrote for University World News (UWN).  Follow this link to read that version.

Incentive-Based Compensation & International Student Recruitment: Is There a Better Way?  By Mark A. Ashwill & Eddie West

The agent issue in the US is reminiscent of those trick candles that delight children and some adults who are children at heart. You blow them out and they continue to ignite themselves – like magic! – using a fuse similar to those used in dynamite sticks.

Compared with their counterparts in Australia and the UK, US universities are relative latecomers to the wild and woolly world of commissions-based international student recruitment. In recent years steps have been undertaken to professionalize practice in the States and equip institutions with the tools they need to engage recruitment agents responsibly.

But while those efforts represent progress, they clearly haven’t assuaged everyone’s concerns about the well-being of students who are, or should be after all, front and center for those of us involved in educational advising and international student recruitment.

Last year, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) rekindled the controversy surrounding the use of agents in a very public fashion. The regional accreditor released a draft policy that sought to stipulate that MSCHE-accredited institutions would be prohibited from paying incentive compensation for the recruitment of any student, domestic and international student alike. Following a period of public comment MSCHE agreed to conduct additional research, including a legal review of the draft policy, before taking further action.

As it turns out, MSCHE quietly decided to follow federal regulations that prohibit incentive compensation for the recruitment of domestic students but allow it when it comes to “foreign students residing in foreign countries who are not eligible” for Title IV student financial assistance; see 34 CFR §668.14 (b) (22) (i) (A).  In other words, the Commission backed down, deciding to hang its hat on the “foreign student carve-out”, or exception, to the incentive compensation rule, essentially caving in to the demands of commission-based international student recruitment supporters.

MSCHE’s decision to permit the institutions in its purview to continue using per-capita commissions for the recruitment of international students parallels the road chosen by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) in 2013. After a period of extensive deliberation, the association concluded that “while NACAC should continue to be very cognizant of the potential effects of commissioned recruiting, it should also address the changing trends in international recruitment and lift the ban in favor of a best practice stance.”

The Fatal Flaw in Current Practice

The fatal flaw in commissioned recruitment is that most agents prioritize their partner schools’ interests over those of the students and parents they advise.  This means that most guide or, in many cases, drive students to their partner schools because of the gold (commission) at the end of the rainbow (enrollment process).  Moreover, most agents represent many partner schools, each of which can pay varied commission amounts. Remuneration can be as little as a few hundred dollars, or many thousands. And so the brute economic logic is that opportunistic commissions payouts vs. best fit often drive student advisement. (Many agents also “double dip,” piggybacking off of this approach by also charging a fee to parents.)

Bonus incentives are also common. A rhetorical question to consider: Agent A has a contract with University B that promises $1,000 per referral for the first 9 students thus enrolled in an academic year, but $1,500 per enrollment of student numbers 10 through 20. Will prospective student #10 receive the same integrity of advice as student #9?  The unfortunate answer is clear.

Indeed, instead of customers as queen or king whose goals are paramount, students and their parents, the key decision-makers, are treated as pawns in a mostly predetermined and opaque process over which they have little control and in which profit frequently trumps a commitment to serving their best interests.

This is a dilemma that advocates of agency-based recruitment have yet to resolve. The blithe assumption is that concerns about unethical business practices are being adequately addressed, despite widespread evidence to the contrary. In fact, some of the most vocal opponents of the Middle States’ draft policy were those who have a vested financial interest in this business practice, hardly a qualification for credibility.

In the spirit of “it takes two to tango,” it’s important to point out that there are educational institutions, albeit a small minority, that are not discerning about which education agents they work with as long as their agents produce.  For them it’s all about “showing them the students.”

Since such agents recruit students in a way that puts partner schools’ interests first, students are not always well-informed about the admitting institution and therefore not always pleased with what they discover once enrolled. This can result in lackluster student retention and negative word-of-mouth, which reflect poorly on both the school and the agent. Those institutional officials who choose to work with unethical education agents are hardly better than their partners in crime.

Need for a New Way

Those who have attempted to address the vexing problems associated with commissioned recruitment deserve credit for professionalizing practice, mitigating risk, and adding a dose of transparency to an activity so often shrouded in secrecy. But efforts thus far have simultaneously served to normalize commissioned recruitment and stifle further discussion, which raises the obvious question: Is that a good thing for students?  We don’t believe it is.

Capstone Vietnam, a full-service educational consulting company, implemented a unique approach that clearly recognizes students and parents as the primary clients in the educational advising process.  Advisers do not pressure students to attend partner schools simply because they pay a per head commission. Rather, they create a list of best fit schools based on student and parent interests, goals, preferences, and budget.  If a student ends up attending a commission-paying partner school, the advising fee is refunded to the parents. If s/he attends a non-partner institution, the company retains the advising fee.

While this approach makes sense from an ethical and financial perspective, are there other agency-based recruitment models that also do a good, and perhaps even better, job of ensuring that students and their families are well-served, by better aligning their interests with those of agents?

Imagine a scenario where, instead of an agency netting different commission payouts based on which school or program a student enrolls in – the prevailing, ethically fraught industry standard – the agency commits to earning a fixed, predetermined amount of money, regardless of which institution the student attends.

Let’s say for example that amount is $1,000 for assisting a student who wishes to attend a US community college. The agency explains to students, families and prospective partner colleges alike that $1,000 is their set fee for helping a student apply and enroll. The student will pay the agency a $1,000 advising fee if they end up attending a community college that isn’t one of the agency’s partners, as with the Capstone model.

On the other hand, if the student enrolls at one of the agency’s partner community colleges and that partner’s standard commission is $1,000, then the agency receives their $1,000 payment directly from the college. In this case, the family receives a refund of the fee they’ve already paid, also an example of the Capstone model.

Of course, this is an oversimplification. It’s the nature of international student recruitment for institutions and agencies alike to seek competitive advantage. Schools routinely pay more, or less, than $1,000 per student enrollment.  They and their agency partners require autonomy with respect to commissions decisions. With this model, they still have it.

Community colleges that wish to pay, say, $1,500 per enrollment can do so, but here’s the rub: the agency will retain their set $1,000 fee, and the excess $500 is given to the student. The same logic applies no matter the amount above $1,000.

Conversely, if the college pays less than $1,000, the student pays the difference. For example: the college pays $600 per enrollment, in which case the family pays $400 as a service fee. Think of this scenario as ethical double dipping.

This model eliminates the financial secrecy inherent in commissioned recruitment as it’s practiced today, because the agency’s earnings for helping a given student are transparent. It also eliminates the incentive for agents to steer students to poor fit environments on the basis of profitable hidden commission payments, the fundamental flaw with current practice.  The agency earns the same amount no matter where the student enrolls.

It also preserves an institution’s autonomy to incentivize outcomes to the extent they wish. Except, instead of the agent pocketing an entire commission payout, any additional financial benefit accrues directly to students. Think of this as akin to the widespread practice of tuition discounting, often packaged as merit scholarships.

We don’t presume this model is immune to criticism. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. Established agencies may resist change to the status quo because the tradition of secret, variable commissions has proven so lucrative for them. Others will point out that it can take considerably more time to assist a student with a graduate school application than it does for short-term ESL study, for example, so charging a uniform fee across the board may not be practical.  

But such problems and the fees to be charged can be solved by experimentation in the marketplace. What agencies might sacrifice in this shift toward greater transparency may well be compensated with an increase in business. After all, it stands to reason that families will gravitate towards agencies committed to fair practice and who also help them obtain a tuition discount as a bonus.

Meanwhile, institutions that support this approach can recruit fairly, transparently, and without the burden of reputational taint that dogs traditional commissioned-based recruitment, of which the MSCHE news is only the latest – and surely not the last – reminder. The ideal end result is a triple win for students and parents, educational institutions, and education agents.

Mark A. Ashwill, Ph.D. is managing director of Capstone Vietnam, a full-service educational consulting company with offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in Viet Nam. Capstone is the only company in Viet Nam, and possibly the world, that works exclusively with regionally accredited colleges and universities in the United States, and officially accredited institutions in other countries.  Its unique approach to educational advising treats students and parents as clients, not partner institutions. He blogs at An International Educator in Viet Nam.

Eddie West is Executive Director of International Programs at UC Berkeley Extension. Previously, he served as Director of International Initiatives at the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and before that led internationalization activities for the Ohlone Community College District.

Shalom (שלום), MAA


Teaching Tolerance: A Facebook Message from the Head of School, The Northwest School (Seattle, WA, USA)


I noticed this post on my Facebook feed and felt compelled to share it with a wider audience.  The Northwest School has 509 students, 70 of whom are international, including some from Viet Nam.  

Shalom (שלום), MAA

Dear Parents and Families:

Sadly, I write yet again to acknowledge and denounce acts of hate and violence that have racked the country this past week, including the racist murders of two African Americans in Kentucky, a rash of pipe bomb mailings to more than a dozen Democratic political figures, and the mass murder of Jews as they marked the Sabbath on Saturday in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.  

I am, of course, heartbroken for those directly affected, for family members who’ve lost loved ones and for communities whose very sense of place and belonging have been threatened or destroyed. But like others, I’m also angry and trying to figure out a productive outlet for that anger. And if adults are struggling to make sense of these horrific acts, we can be certain that our children are, too.  

We can find both solace and agency in community. In that spirit, Temple de Hirsch Sinai in Capitol Hill (1441 16th Avenue) is holding a community-wide vigil for people of all faiths tonight at 7:00. We hope many of you will consider attending with your student(s). Standing together in solidarity is one simple step we can take to counter those who would divide us. Here at Northwest, our Jewish Student Union met during lunch today to support one another and contemplate productive responses to anti-Semitic violence.  

We can also contribute to change by simply talking to one another: while such unspeakable violence is painful to process and virtually impossible to rationally explain, it is crucial lest silence lead to normalizing. For this is in no way normal. As one way into the conversation, faculty shared with one another the following resource from the magazine Teaching Tolerance:

We hope you might find it useful, as well.


Mike McGill
Head of School, The Northwest School

Visa Issuance Rate as Institutional Selling Point (or Not)

Note:  This post is devoted exclusively to the US student visa for the obvious reason that it has the most irrational and unpredictable process of the top host countries for Vietnamese and other international students.  This is heartfelt advice to US colleagues, especially higher education, who have their work cut out for them these days with international student recruitment.  

Image courtesy of Schenectady County Community College

There are many US colleges and universities with very high student visa issuance rates, in some cases, 100%.  Given how competitive the recruitment market has become and how problematic the student visa process is, including justifiable student and parent concerns about how hard it is to obtain a visa, this is a golden selling point for those institutions, mostly of the four-year variety, that they should be shouting from the rooftops, digital and otherwise.  If student A applies to university B, her chances of obtaining a visa are very high, which means one less thing to worry about.

For those schools with a less than stellar issuance rate, through no fault of their own, that’s easy.  No need to bring up the issue.  

Shalom (שלום), MAA

Secondary Sector in USA Still Going Strong

august 18 vn students in usaAs I mentioned in the last post, there are nearly 30,000 Vietnamese (29,788, to be exact) studying in the US at all levels.  (Source:  Mapping  SEVIS by the Numbers, August 2018)  Of those, 3,472, or 11.7%, of them are enrolled in boarding and day schools. 

While that’s 720 fewer students than in December 2017 (4,192 or 13.2% of the total) , it’s still a significant number that reflects a continued interest in overseas secondary education and a strong ability to pay on the part of many Vietnamese parents.  

Not included in the above figure are all of the Vietnamese students enrolled in high school completion programs in Washington state, the academic equivalent of killing two birds with one stone that allows young Vietnamese to simultaneously earn a WA high school diploma and an associate degree.  It’s an attractive option for parents who either can’t afford higher cost options such as a boarding school or a high school in the 30k range or who simply prefer that kind of program.  

Shalom (שלום), MAA

Viet Nam Once Again Ranks 5th in US International Student Enrollment


According to the August 2018 SEVIS by the Numbers update, Viet Nam once again ranks 5th among places of origin with 29,788 active students at all levels and in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, inching past Canada, which had displaced it in June 2018.  (One always has to take summer statistics with a grain of salt, since there’s always a dip that coincides with the end of the academic year.)  

1) China: 378,003
2) India: 227,199
3) South Korea: 64,022
4) Saudi Arabia: 43,413
5) Viet Nam: 29,788
6) Canada: 29,496
7) Brazil: 26,846
8) Taiwan: 24,429
9) Japan: 23,088
10) Nigeria: 16,042

That’s the good news in these troubled times.  The bad news is that the number of student visas issued in FY18, which ended on 30 September 2018, was down from last year.  (I’ll provide more information in a forthcoming blog post.) 

My ballpark estimate is a 5-6% decrease, which is line with the decrease in overall numbers.  This assumes that the US Mission in Viet Nam (Embassy in Hanoi and Consulate in HCMC) issued the same number of F-1s in September 2018 that it did in the same month last year.  That information will be out soon.  

Keep in mind that there were 31,389 young Vietnamese studying in the US, as of December 2017.  This means that there are now 1,601 fewer students from Viet Nam, a 5.1% decrease.  One obvious reason is the shift to Canada, which hosted nearly 15,000 Vietnamese students last year and recorded an unprecedented one-year increase of 89%.    

Peace, MAA  

Postscript:  There are currently 27,061 young Vietnamese studying in South Korea, which means the top five host countries for Vietnamese students worldwide are 1) Japan (61,671, 2017); 2) the USA (29,788, 8-18); 3) South Korea (27,061, 4-18); 4) Australia (22,565, 7-18); and 5) Canada (14,095, 2017).  This means that there are  155,180 in the top five countries alone, 57% of them in East Asia.  


When in Viet Nam, Drive as the Vietnamese Do!

Motorbike drivers in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

An expat shares some philosophical reflections and practical tips on the free-for-all that is Vietnamese traffic.  This is my latest English language article for VNExpress InternationalFollow this link to read it in its entirety.  Below is the unabridged version:

In any country, driving culture and etiquette, or a lack thereof, is a window into the that society.  Viet Nam is no exception.  Here’s my take on being an active participant-observer of transportation in Viet Nam on a part-time basis since 1996 and full-time since 2005. 

I ride a bike but not in the city.  (Yes, I wear a helmet because I value brain function over vanity.  I’ve never owned a motorbike.  I am a frequent pedestrian who has had too many death-defying experiences in city traffic to recount in a single article.  My main mode of transportation is a car. 

What is it like driving in Viet Nam?  Much like the country itself, never boring, always an adventure.  What to expect?  The unexpected – virtually every minute of every day that you’re on the road.  Drive defensively and, when need be, offensively.  Protect yourself, your passengers, and everyone else on the road.  A tall order?  Welcome to the crazy world of driving in Viet Nam! 

The Hierarchy:  You’re Hot or You’re Not

Respect the hierarchy:  it determines the rules of the road, such as they are.  The following are ranked from top to bottom based on the level of respect each deserves.  

  1. tractor trailers, buses, cement trucks, garbage trucks
  2. those crazy little delivery trucks whose drivers have no fear and are sometimes high as a kite on meth (or whatever)
  3. cars (big to small)
  4. motorbikes with merchandise ranging from pig carcasses, glass panels, poles, and everything else you can imagine, plus some things you probably can’t (seeing is believing)
  5. motorbikes with passengers, sometimes, entire families
  6. electric bikes
  7. bicycles
  8. pedestrians

If not might, then at least size, makes right.  Don’t worry about what or who is behind you, only what or who is in front of you.  Caution is key.  Even stupid drivers do not deserve to get injured or, God forbid, die.  Their lives are in your steady hands.  Take good care of them.   

Beware of new drivers, both men and women.  They are legion.  Many of the former will end up as hell on wheels fueled by machismo and most of the latter will become good drivers who don’t take chances – to the benefit of themselves, their passengers, and everyone else on the road. 

Pedestrians as an Endangered Species

A word about those bottom feeders known as pedestrians.  You have to know your place, which is at rock bottom of the hierarchy.  That means you always have to have your wits about you because no one else is going to watch out for you.  Having said that, eyes are on you when crossing a street simply because no one wants to run into or over you.  Too messy, too costly and, for most, a burden on their conscience. 

As I am fond of telling foreigners who are rookie travelers to Viet Nam, watch out for drivers who are constantly checking their smartphones for Facebook updates or texting someone and those, particularly men, who may be driving under the influence.  (In most cases, with the exception of Tết, the Lunar New Year holiday, it’s the former you have to worry about because they are not focusing on you.)  

What about letting pedestrians cross a busy street?  Only if they’re foreigners, in most cases.  (In fact, those who are just off the boat or plane expect it because they come from countries in which the lowly pedestrian is king or queen.)  For Vietnamese, only if they’re disabled or old, or families with small children  Even then, some of them might look at you like you’re from another planet, fully expecting you to keep driving and not let them cross because that’s the way it’s done.  

Patience is Not Only a Virtue, It Can Also Save Your Life

A note to foreigners who either recent arrivals or are planning to relocate to Viet Nam:  If you were not a patient person before driving in Viet Nam, you will become one, or else.  Road rage is not an option.  Even though Vietnamese don’t carry guns like US Americans do, for example, chances are any conflict will end badly, even more so if you’re a foreigner. 

I remember one foreign man and a Vietnamese man on motorbikes who were mixing it up at high speeds on a mostly deserted street late one rainy night in Hanoi.  The Vietnamese guy gave him the “come here” hand gesture (index finger up), very rude in Vietnamese culture but perfectly acceptable in the US, for example, a cultural note that may have been lost on his foreign friend.  At any rate, he got the message and they both sped off into the night – the latter in fast pursuit of the former.  I can only hope they both lived to tell the story.  

OK, I admit it.  I use a “A” word more than I should while driving and, occasionally, spicier language.  I’m working on it.  Yes, and even the occasional hand gesture, which is more for my benefit than that of the object of my wrath, who usually doesn’t see it.  I know words in Vietnamese than I can only utter under my breath because they would get me killed if another driver heard them. 

Of Etiquette and Accidents

Driving etiquette in Viet Nam is that there is no driving etiquette.  It’s pretty much a free-for-all.  Courtesy, even of the common variety, is virtually nonexistent.  Cut in front of someone, almost causing an accident?  No problem because the other driver is either in a rush or a wannabe VIP.  Drive slowly in the fast lane?  Just pass him on the right, as long as there are no police in sight.  Turn the shoulder into a third lane?  Go for it!  Keep your headlights on high beam?  Just do it!  Courtesy is but a dream delayed. 

Someone once wrote in an expat Facebook group that one should drive as if everyone else is trying to kill you.  While an overstatement, that’s not bad advice, especially for motorbike drivers, who are not surrounded by 1.5+ tons of steel. 

Having said all of the above, there are not as many accidents as one would expect in the densely populated cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).  Most car accidents are minor because of the relatively low speeds involved.  Accidents involving cars, other large vehicles and motorbikes can and often are much more serious involving injury or even death. 

I remember once seeing the body of a motorbike driver covered with a straw mat, feet sticking out,  on a bridge crossing the Red River.  It appeared that he took one too many chances trying to pass someone from the motorbike lane, i.e., the shoulder, into one of two lanes reserved for everyone else, big and small.  It was a sad and surreal scene with money blowing around the road dropped by people who wanted to help the poor fellow on his next trip to the afterlife – and a guy running around like a crazy man picking it up, bad luck, by the way, a gallows humor example of greed trumping a cultural taboo.  As the saying goes, karma’s a bitch. 

Social Covenant on the Highway? 

Here’s a key culture difference that I’ve noticed in Viet Nam, when compared to the US, where I was born and raised.  In the US, I let other drivers merge because I know they would do the same for me.  (OK, 90% of them.)  That is not the case in Viet Nam; therefore, I just keep driving.  In fact, if I were to let someone in, they would think I was a bit strange because it is just not done

I admit to occasional bouts of self-loathing as I drive through crosswalks with pedestrians waiting, blow by slowpokes on the right, or drive on the shoulder to pass people blithely driving in the middle of the road.  It goes against my nature and culture-specific socialization but I rationalize my behavior and am consoled by a variation on the theme of the well-known proverb about Rome, “When in Viet Nam, drive as the Vietnamese do.” 

In the US, which for all of its problems related to people getting along and living in harmony, there is a social covenant that applies to that country’s driving culture.  People, total strangers, maybe even “the other,” let other people in with a wave of a hand and often a smile.  It makes you feel good inside.  It’s an unwritten and unspoken code of behavior that works just like many written laws work, e.g., stopping at a red light.  (The US not Viet Nam!)  It’s civility in the midst of insensitivity, cruelty, and incivility.  (Maybe there’s hope after all for a country that is so divided along so many fault lines.)

What about four-way stops?  Unthinkable in Viet Nam.  In the US and elsewhere?  It’s also the law but that’s beside the point, since there are rarely police hanging around four-way stops.  It’s about people from many different walks of life following a silent yet compelling code.  

What the Future Holds

Will traffic become more orderly and more civil(ized) in Viet Nam?  Will drivers become more law-abiding?  Probably, as the society continues to evolve, but probably not in the near future.  

Whenever I see someone run a red light or make a left turn from the far right lane, I invariably think of what Jim Carrey’s lawyer character in the movie Liar, Liar screamed into the phone – during the magical time when he could not tell a lie – to a former client who had just knocked over an ATM machine:  “Stop breaking the law, asshole!” 

Keep in mind that Vietnamese graduated from bicycles in the not too distant past to motorbikes and, more recently, to cars.  Many seem to drive a car the way they used to drive a motorbike.  They just need more time to make the adjustment.  And there need to be police and more police who will enforce existing laws. 

Also, don’t forget that it was only in 2007 when it became mandatory for all motorbike drivers and passengers above a certain age to wear a helmet.  (Smart parents buy quality helmets for their children; others take their chances, as well as those of their children.)   That change occurred literally overnight in December of that year.  You woke up and there was this sea of helmet-wearing motorbike drivers.  (The questionable quality of most helmets is another matter.  All meet the official requirement but relatively few will spare you and your head from injury or worse.) 

While laws can take effect overnight, a change in behavior takes a little longer.  In the meantime, stay safe out there on the mean streets of Viet Nam and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! 

Peace, MAA