The 10th VietAbroader Study Abroad Conferences Are Coming!

sac11-1024x683 (2015)Mark your summer calendar, U.S. higher education colleagues!  I’m pleased to announce that the main 2015 VietAbroader Conferences – Passing of the Torch will be held on Saturday, July 18th in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Sunday, July 19th in Hanoi.

For the first time ever, there will also be conferences in Hue (7/10), Haiphong and Can Tho (7/11), Nghe An and Danang (7/12). With this change VietAbroader demonstrates its commitment to reaching out to underserved communities, educating aspiring young people across Vietnam about U.S. study opportunities and providing them with accurate information and tools with which to make the best decisions for their future. This change will also enable U.S. institutions and schools reach out to a wider and more diverse pool of Vietnamese applicants in the coming years.

Other new features include the following:

  • Interactive Format: Guest speakers will share inspiring stories from applying to U.S. colleges to overcoming challenges abroad.
  • Comprehensive Information: Participants will be given handbooks with accurate, updated information on U.S. college admissions.

There are five (5) institutional sponsorship packages, including Diamond (5k), Platinum (4k), Gold (3k), Silver (2k) and Bronze (1k). (These costs are for Hanoi and HCMC only.) There is currently one Platinum slot left and the Gold, Silver and Bronze slots are wide open.  The registration deadline is May 15, 2015.

vac 2015Follow this link to download both sponsorship documents: Benefits Information for Institutional Sponsors and the Conference Proposal. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Ms. Thu Pham (anhthu.pham [AT] vietabroader.org), Co-President, or Ms. Thu Diem, Head of Partners & Sponsors, (anhthu.diem [AT] vietabroader.org).

The conferences include morning seminars that provide pre-screened attendees and their parents with information about U.S. education and fairs in the afternoon that are free and open to the public, where students and parents can meet face-to-face with currently enrolled students, alumni and official representatives of more than 100 U.S. institutions. Here is the tentative agenda (as of March 2015):

  • 08:00 –08:40    Check-in
  • 08:45–09:10     Opening Ceremony & Keynote Speech
  • 09:10 –09:30    Presentation: Why Study in the U.S.?
  • 09:30 –10:00    Experience Sharing: Opportunities & Challenges in the U.S.
  • 10:00 –10:30    Experience Sharing: Pursuing Your Dreams
  • 10:30 –10:45    Break
  • 10:45 –11:30    Discussion in Small groups
  • 11:30 –11:45    School Quizzes
  • 11:45 –12:00    Closing Ceremony
  • 12:00 –14:00    Lunch Break & Networking
  • 14:00 –17:00    College Fair with Representatives from Over 100 U.S. Institutions

What is VietAbroader (VA)?

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Then US Ambassador to Vietnam, Michael Michalak, and I after delivering introductory remarks at the 2009 VAC in Hanoi.

VA is Vietnam’s premier student-run nonprofit that provides students with information and guidance to encourage them to study abroad, primarily in the United States. The VA Study Abroad Conference (VAC), the organization’s flagship program, was launched in 2005. I had the honor of speaking at the first Hanoi conference. It is also my honor to serve as one of four VietAbroader advisers, a position I have held since the organization’s founding 11 years ago. When I joined the VA forum in 2004, before it evolved into a full-fledged student organization, there were only a few hundred members. There were over 80,000 when the forum was phased out last August in favor of Facebook and a more interactive website.

Every year, it is my pleasure to help VA’s leadership reach out to potential institutional sponsors. Why should U.S. colleges and universities that welcome Vietnamese students to their campuses consider becoming a VAC sponsor? Because it’s one of the most popular and widely publicized events of its kind, and will help you brand and market your school to a large and targeted audience.  Capstone Vietnam, of which I’m managing director, is a corporate sponsor of the VACs and a long-term VietAbroader partner, along with IDG Ventures Vietnam and EducationUSA.

MAA

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Taking Vietnam to the Next Level: The Role of Education

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I recently had the opportunity to speak to members of UPCEA at its 100th annual conference and post-conference international briefing with a focus on Southeast Asia: Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam – Higher Education in Context.  The University Professional & Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) is the leading association for professional, continuing, and online education in the US.

Below a description of my international briefing presentation:

speaker2015 is a year of several noteworthy anniversaries in Vietnam of historical and personal significance.  40 years since the end of the war, 20 years since the normalization of relations between Vietnam and the US and 10 years since I moved to Hanoi.

This presentation will include information, insights and observations gleaned from nearly a decade of living and working in Vietnam as an educational entrepreneur, first for a US international education NGO whose slogan is Opening Minds to the World and, since 2009, for a Vietnamese educational consulting company whose slogan is Reaching New Heights.

The theme of the discussion is “taking Vietnam to the next level” – innovation over imitation, substance over image, veracity over veneer – and the contributions that education can make, including international educational exchange.  The latter includes student recruitment, student and faculty exchanges, study abroad programs, service learning and internships, education and training programs, including online, etc.

Vietnam is a country on the move.  Daunting obstacles overcome. Suffering redeemed. Phenomenal progress achieved. New summits yet to be conquered.  How can your institution benefit from incorporating Vietnam into its internationalization strategy?  What contributions can you make to help take Vietnam to the next level under the rubric of global service and in the spirit of doing well and doing good?

Jill Biden, one of my fellow speakers and wife of US Vice President Joe Biden.
Dr. Jill Biden, one of my fellow speakers and wife of US Vice President Joe Biden. Dr. Biden was the conference keynote speaker.

I also spoke at an innovation roundtable named after my blog (with an extra dose of “intrigue”!) and at a meeting of the UPCEA International Network about student recruitment in Vietnam.  Thank you, UPCEA, for the opportunity to speak to your members about two of my favorite topics, international education and Vietnam!

MAA

 

 

 

Keynote Address: “Intercultural Competence as a Cornerstone of Innovation”

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I was honored to be invited to give the keynote address at the recent annual Conference of Business Innovation, organized by the FPT Leadership Institute.

First, a word about the parent company.  FPT, Vietnam’s leading technology company, was founded in 1988 as The Food Processing Technology Company.  Its first contract was  to provide computers for the Russian Academy of Sciences in partnership with Olivetti in 1989, which laid the groundwork for its IT department.  A year later, the company was renamed The Corporation for Financing and Promoting Technology and the rest, as they say, is history.  In addition to its dominant market position within Vietnam, FPT’s operations are global in scope, with clients or rep offices and companies in 16 foreign countries, including Laos, Cambodia, America, Japan, Singapore, Germany, Myanmar, France, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, United Kingdom, the Philippines, Kuwait, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Keynote Address

Since my topic was Intercultural Competence (IC) as a Cornerstone of Innovation (Mối giao thoa văn hóa là nền móng cho sự sáng tạo), I started off with some comments about innovation, which is a hot topic in Vietnam.  Just in the past week or so, I’ve seen media references such as “Vietnam Needs More Innovation:  Experts” and “Vietnam Needs to Foster Innovation to Sustain Growth, Report Says.”  I added that Vietnam needs innovation to foster sustainable development, which is more far important than growth in the long-term and for quality of life.  While there are many examples of innovation occurring in Vietnam, including at FPT, a copy and paste mentality is still prevalent, including in my industry.

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During the remainder of my allotted time, i.e, one-hour, including 20 minutes for Q&A, which turned into a half hour, I briefly defined the concepts of innovation, culture, intercultural sensitivity (a mindset) and intercultural competence (a skill set), introduced the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS), a framework that describes the different ways in which people can react to cultural differences organized into six “stages” of increasing sensitivity to difference, and offered an overview of a related tool that measures intercultural competence, the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI).  I also mentioned foreign language proficiency as an integral component of IC, discussed ways in which people can develop IC, referred to some recent research that proves overseas experience makes us more flexible, creative and complex thinkers, pointed out some ways in which the US and Vietnam differ within this context (i.e., to Vietnam’s credit and advantage) and shared some useful resources.

The US and Vietnam:  A Study in Cultural Contrast

handbook of ic competenceIn discussing the contrast between Vietnam and the US, I drew from a co-authored book chapter entitled “Developing Globally Competent Citizens – The Contrasting Cases of the United States and Vietnam” (with Dương Thị Hoàng Oanh), which was published in 2009 in The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence (Darla Deardorff, editor).  One of the points we make is that nationalism, which is predominant in the US, is a cognitive and affective barrier to developing intercultural competence and global citizenship.  In Vietnam, where national identity is rooted in patriotism, it is easier to create globally competent citizens.  In general, young people here are more open, interested and curious about the world beyond their country’s borders and are not burdened by a nationalist worldview, or ideology, which exalts one country above all.

A Great Leader of a Global Project with a Multinational Team

A “bonus” was an overview of a case study about Sir Ernest Shackleton, a Anglo-Irish explorer, who participated in four expeditions to Antarctica in the early 20th century, of which he led three:  A Great Leader of a Global Project with a Multinational Team.  The story is as much about leadership as it is about leading a multinational team.  While Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914–17 failed, he succeeded in that he and his entire team survived the tragedy. (Source:  “Intercultural Competence in Business:  Leading Global Projects,” Robert T. Moran, William E. Youngdahl, and Sarah V. Moran; The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence, ed., Darla Deardorff).

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Making a point. Photo: Hoàng Anh Tuấn

In Conclusion

Among the conclusions were:

  • IC gives you the ability to work successfully with clients around the world
  • IC can play a valuable role as a catalyst for innovation, including with multinational teams
  • IC can give you a competitive advantage in working with foreign clients and partners

Participants ask a number of excellent questions, including some of my impressions of Vietnam after living here for nearly 10 years, ways in which Capstone Vietnam been innovative, some related to IC, others not.  I was gratified to see so much interest in IC on the part of FPT.  It’s not surprising, given the company’s international operations and its focus on innovation.  Just as FPT has been a trailblazer as Vietnam’s leading ITC company, it’s exciting to think that perhaps it will be a trendsetter in this area as well.

Article in Vietnamese:  ‘Giao thoa văn hóa thúc đẩy sự sáng tạo’ (29.11.14)  If you don’t read Vietnamese, just use a service like Google Translate to get the gist.

MAA

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Workshop on Higher Education Admission Reform in Vietnam

On Saturday, 27 September, I participated in a workshop on the reform of Vietnam’s higher education admission system hosted by Vietnam National University-Hanoi.  The workshop, which was led by VNU-Hanoi President Phùng Xuân Nhạ and Vice President Nguyễn Kim Sơn, received extensive print and electronic media coverage.  For those of you who read Vietnamese, here is a sampling of articles:

Nhiều trường ĐH sẵn sàng tham gia phương án đổi mới TS của ĐHQGHN (VNU-Hanoi)

Hội thảo về đổi mới tuyển sinh đại học, sau đại học theo hướng đánh giá năng lực (Quân đội nhân dân)

Nhiều trường “tốp trên” sẽ thực hiện phương án thi đánh giá năng lực (Dân trí)

Các chuyên gia nói gì về phương án thi đại học 2015 của ĐHQG Hà Nội?  (Infonet)

Đổi mới tuyển sinh ĐH theo hướng đánh giá năng lực (Pháp Luật thành phố Hồ Chí Minh)

GS Bành Tiến Long và TS Mark (thứ nhất và thứ 2 từ phải sang) đánh giá cao phương án đổi mới thi bằng bài thi đánh giá năng lực của ĐHQG Hà Nội. Ảnh: Bùi Tuấn. (Source:  VnExpress.net)
GS Bành Tiến Long và TS Mark (thứ nhất và thứ 2 từ phải sang) đánh giá cao phương án đổi mới thi bằng bài thi đánh giá năng lực của ĐHQG Hà Nội. Ảnh: Bùi Tuấn. (Source: VnExpress.net)

  (Ảnh) Một số hình ảnh Hội thảo “Đổi mới tuyển sinh đại học, sau đại học theo hướng đánh giá năng lực: thực tiễn triển khai thí điểm ở ĐHQHN” (Photos from VNU-Hanoi)

 

 

Vietnam Education Dialogue: Higher Education Reforms

cg hcmcOn July 31st and August 1st, US Consul General, Rena Bitter, hosted a conference on Vietnamese higher education.  The star-studded list of guests included Dr. Ngo Bao Chau, the first Vietnamese to receive the prestigious Fields Medal, known as the Nobel Prize of Mathematics, Dr. Nguyen Quan, Minister of Science and Technology, and Professor Bui Van Ga, Vice Minister, Ministry of Education and Training.   About 150 people attended the conference.  You can find the agenda here, along with a number of presentations in the form of PDF downloads.

The 1.5 day conference, entitled “Vietnam Education Dialogue: Higher Education Reforms” and organized by the Education Dialogue Group and Dr. Chau, “brought together senior government officials, educators, college and university representatives, and businesspeople to discuss strategies and recommend reforms to Vietnam’s higher education system,” according to a US Consulate General press release.  “The Vietnam Education Dialogue is part of the U.S. government’s commitment to this joint goal, based on enhancing educational, cultural, and people-to-people ties between the United States and Vietnam,” the statement added.

My two cents:

  • Soft Power:  Given the fact that education looms large in the US government’s exercise of soft power in Vietnam and other countries, I view these events primarily as political exercises, something to write about and showcase in a press release, media report, and post-conference diplomatic cable.   They are part of an ongoing charm offensive that began in earnest during “Education Ambassador” Michael Michalak’s tenure. 
  • Impact:  I wonder about the impact of these types of events, short- or long-term.  Aside from the fleeting PR value, you can’t claim that they’re networking opportunities on this scale – in contrast to the annual education conferences of AMB Michalak.
  • Authority:  A couple of sources told me that while the academic presenters who hold positions overseas may be experts in their fields, they wonder A) how up-to-date all of these experts are vis-à-vis Vietnamese higher education; and B) why they think that what works in another country will work in Vietnam.
  • More Inclusive?  I know this is asking a lot of what is essentially a very conservative entity with its own narrow agenda but… why not expand the circle and include other voices?  This is about dialogue, after all.

MAA

2014 VietAbroader Summer Study Abroad Conferences

Below is a note I sent to US higher education colleagues about the summer VietAbroader Study Abroad Conferences.

MAA

vac 2014

I’m pleased to announce that the 2014 VietAbroader Conferences – Passing of the Torch will be held on Saturday, July 19th in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Sunday, July 20th in Hanoi.  Follow this link to download both sponsorship documentsBenefits Information for Institutional Sponsors and the conference proposal.  You can register here to become an institutional sponsor.

Although the registration deadline is May 9th, the Diamond, Platinum, and Gold sponsorship levels tend to fill up quickly, so if you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, register ASAP.  Thank you for giving some thought to sponsoring this unique, high-profile event.

The conferences include morning seminars that provide pre-screened attendees and their parents with information about U.S. education and fairs in the afternoon that are free and open to the public, where students and parents can meet face-to-face with students, alumni and official representatives of more than 80 top U.S. schools.  Here is the tentative agenda:

08:40-09:20 Opening Ceremony & Keynote Speech
09:25-09:40 Overview of U.S.Education
09:45-10:00 Mini Talk Show on College Life
10:05-10:45 Scholarship Opportunities and School Selection
11:20-11:35 Q & A
11:40-12:10 Standardized Examinations
12:15-13:00 High School Admission & Scholarship Opportunities
13:00-14:00 Lunch Break & Networking
14:00-17:00 College Fair Featuring Representatives from 80 U.S. Institutions
Community College Admission
17:00-18:00 Networking

What is VietAbroader (VA)? 

VA picVA is Vietnam’s premier student-run nonprofit, which provides students with information and guidance to encourage them to study abroad, primarily in the United States.  The VA Study Abroad Conference (VAC), the organization’s flagship program, was launched in 2005.  I had the honor of speaking at the first Hanoi conference.  It is also my honor to serve as one of two VietAbroader advisers, a position I have held since the organization’s founding 10 years ago.  When I joined the VA forum in 2004, the year of its founding and before it evolved into a full-fledged student organization, there only a few hundred members.  There are now over 80,000.

Every year, I help VA’s leadership reach out to potential institutional sponsors.  Why should U.S. colleges and universities that welcome Vietnamese students to their campuses consider becoming a VAC sponsor?  Because it’s one of the hottest and most widely publicized events of its kind, and will help you brand and market your school to a very targeted audience.

MAA

Creating and Maintaining Productive and Effective Partnerships

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This was my first presentation in absentia.  I was scheduled to present at the 2014 CCID Conference in late February about Creating and Maintaining Productive and Effective Partnerships for community colleges, along with my distinguished colleagues, but wasn’t able to attend.  Below is the abstract and list of presenters.  Follow this link to download a PDF version (2.4MB) of the PowerPoint presentation.  Thanks to my friend and colleague, Judy Irwin, for representing me.

MAA

Abstract

Partnering with reputable international educational consulting companies is an effective way to boost international recruitment, develop new partnerships (faculty/student exchange, in-country training, articulation programs), and safeguard the interests of higher education institutions and their international students.  This session describes different ways of screening and evaluating prospective partners.  Panelists include representatives from an organization promoting professional recruitment standards and ethical principles; a community college working with agents and a leader in best practices; and a full-service educational consulting company working with both institutional ( U.S. colleges and universities) and individual clients (students and parents).

Presenters

Judy Irwin, AIRC (American International Recruitment Council), Session Chair
Ross Jennings, Green River Community College
Mark Ashwill, Capstone Vietnam