Keys to Successful Non-Commission-Based Recruitment in Viet Nam

AC17_presenter_badgeTo international education colleagues with an interest in Viet Nam:  Join me, Diana Sampson, Associate Vice President, International Education, Shoreline Community College, & Stephanie Sieggreen, Executive Director, International Enrollment Management, Western Kentucky University at our NAFSA general session entitled Keys to Successful Non-Commission-Based Recruitment in Vietnam

AbstractVietnam now ranks sixth among all sending countries, according to the latest SEVIS update, with most of that enrollment in higher education. While the pool of potential students is expanding, so, too, is the competition. This session provides recruitment strategies that do not involve the use of education agents.

Follow this link for more session-related information, including a brief bio for each presenter. 



Viet Nam Briefing & Discussion with US Study Abroad Students

ssa-logoI spent part of last Monday morning speaking and listening to a group of 17 US students who are in Viet Nam for the spring semester under the auspices of a School for International Training’s (SIT) program entitled Vietnam: Culture, Social Change, and Development.

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They started out in HCMC (Saigon) on 1 February and will now spend the remainder of their time in Hanoi.  Most are female (12 out of 17, or about 70%) and come from a variety of mostly private colleges and universities from 11 states.  These include – in A-Z order – Bates College, Emory University, Hamilton College, Ithaca College, Maryland Institute College of Art, Skidmore College, University of Mississippi, Siena College, University of Vermont, Vanderbilt University, University of Virginia, Vassar College, Washington University in St. Louis, Whitman College, and Williams College

Thei majors represented include Anthropology, Economics, Finance, Gender Studies, History, Human Development, Illustration/Design, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy, Social Work, and Sociology.

In addition to their coursework and program-related activities, the students are either working on an independent study project or doing an internship.

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We discussed a wide range of issues related to Viet Nam, its development, and its recent history, as well as about concepts such nationalism, patriotism, and global citizenship.  They were engaged, curious, and well-informed. 

Thanks to SIT for the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite topics – Viet Nam!


Taking Vietnam to the Next Level: The Role of Education


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!





“Revitalizing Vietnam’s Economic Miracle”

Last month, I was invited to speak to a group of U.S. students who are participating in a fall study abroad program that begins in HCMC and spends the remainder of the semester in Hanoi.  My assigned topic was Revitalizing Vietnam’s Economic Miracle.  After a brief refresher on Vietnam in the recent past, I took them on a whirlwind tour of the socio-economic landscape of Vietnam of the past five years or so using relevant facts and figures and sharing personal impressions.

One of slides I shared with the group was entitled Vietnam is Heating Up! (PDF download), an upbeat assessment of Vietnam’s economy from Nielsen’s 2010 Personal Finance Monitor.  Bullet points included:

  • Healthy GDP growth in both urban & rural areas
  • Vietnam is currently ranked equal #2 in the world on Nielsen’s consumer confidence index
  • Business leaders continue to show bullish expectations for business growth over the next 12 months
  • Well over 50% of total population is under 30 years old

Of course, it was around that time that the economy began to overheat, hence the name of my next slide:  What a Difference Three Years Can Make.  The inevitable economic downturn, whose causes and symptoms included sky-high inflation, rampant real estate speculation, rising interest rates, decreased foreign direct investment (FDI), overdevelopment, and excessive diversification, was the result of a lack of checks and balances in a free market economy set in motion with the renovation reforms of 1986.  Simply put, greed reigned supreme.  These are what I often refer to as the growing pains of a rapidly developing economy in a country that has just opened up to the world in the last 20 years.  (To put this in perspective remember that the U.S.-led economic embargo, which it imposed against the former Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1965 and extended to the entire country after the war, was lifted just 19 years ago by the Clinton Administration.)

We also discussed sustainable growth vs. development with a look at…

  • Corruption
  • Culture of philanthropy
  • Educational system
  • Environmental pollution/solid waste management/wastewater treatment
  • Food safety
  • Housing
  • Transportation infrastructure
  • Income and wealthy inequality
  • Tax policy

If a picture is worth a thousand words, these Google Earth photos from 2002 and 2012 of the Landmark Tower, a $1 billion Korean-invested project that is the tallest building in the country, and surrounding area tell a significant part of the story of Vietnam’s recent development, including some of its successes and failures.


Vietnam’s progress will ultimately be measured by how it addresses these pressing issues that affect the quality of life for all of its citizens.  At the end of the day, the miracle will be not to return to the days of record economic growth but to create a path towards sustainable development, realizing that sustainable growth, an oxymoron, is both destructive and counterproductive.