Grow Beyond – SEO-Vietnam Career Conference 2018

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I recently saw this announcement on LinkedIn:

Sponsors for Educational Opportunity – Vietnam is organizing the largest career conference in Vietnam in 2018, aiming at connecting top young professionals and fresh graduates to the top-notch firms in Vietnam. We are still open to more booths at the career fair. If you are interested to boost talent acquisition at our event. please let me know. 

Our partners include top notch firms such as: ABInbev, BCG, SSI, Unilever, Traveloka, McKinsey, British American Tobacco and many more.

Here are my responses and other comments:

Great conference and opportunity with one caveat: I wish organizations would not take sponsorship money from companies that manufacture products that are highly addictive, make their customers sick and, in many cases, ultimately end up killing them. There’s plenty of sponsorship money out there for worthwhile events. Don’t follow the path of least resistance and take what is essentially blood money.  

Hi Mark, thank you for your attentive concern. The morale side of the business is yet controversial, but from our organizing perspective, we try to give a diversified company portfolio, which have prominent career trainings, employees benefits and opportunities for young professionals to make their own choices :). 

It’s not controversial for those who believe that people are more important than profit.  My point is about sponsorship not whether such a company should have a booth at your event. Regarding employment with a company that manufactures products that are highly addictive, make their customers sick and, in many cases, end up killing them, here are two relevant quotes from Thích Nhất Hạnh: 1) “Our vocation can nourish our understanding and compassion, or erode them. We should be awake to the consequences, far and near, of the way we earn our living.” 2) “The way you support yourself can be an expression of your deepest self, or it can be a source of suffering for you and others.” https://english.vov.vn/society/vietnamese-cancer-mortality-rate-higher-than-traffic-accidents-361688.vov 

Thank you for sharing chi!

Peace, MAA

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Click Farms in the Education Industry? You Betcha!

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India click farm.  Source: Equedia Investment Research

This is yet another laughable yet very real practice in the education industry.  Yes, dear reader, there are people in the biz who sit around doing this because 1) they have nothing better to do; 2) they’re mean and spiteful little creatures; and 2) they don’t realize just how short life is.  More commonly, there are people who outsource this “work” to companies that hire other people who spend all day clicking and posting in the name of fraud and a meager income (supplement).  The “work” of click farms is a double-edged sword.  It can be used to enhance the social media image of a particular company or drain the digital advertising budgets of its competitors.  

First things first for the uninitiated:  What is a click farm?  A business that pays employees to click on website elements to artificially boost the status of a client’s website or a product. Click farms are usually based in developing countries (including Viet Nam), where wages are extremely low by Western standards.  Source:  WhatIs.com 

I touched on this in passing in a 2014 article entitled Walking the walk – Ethical agency-based recruitment, published in University World News, at least at the individual (amateur) level.  

For your amusement and, possibly, shock, here’s a YouTube video from 2017 about a police raid on a click farm in Thailand.  

Cheating as a Misuse of Creativity

Here’s an article I recommend for both the perpetrators of this despicable practice and its victims:  Three reasons you need to stop clicking competitors’ AdWords campaigns

This except should whet your appetite to learn more:  

When Google AdWords emerged in October 2000, this indisputably changed the platform of online marketing forever, significantly extending potential client reach for prosperous businesses – all at the click of a button.

Eighteen years later, this remains to be an integral part of many business’ marketing activity – acting as a critical channel for easily accessible, rapid financial development.

However, whilst many organisations across the globe continue to persistently reap the rewards of utilising AdWords’ pay per click service, there remains to be a significant number of individuals and large-scale corporations alike who are willing to exploit this network for less genuine, constructive purposes.

This also applies to Facebook posts (!).  Eyes on the prize.  Success without integrity is failure!  

Peace, MAA

P.S.:  Here’s another good article about this topic:  Click Farms & Social Media

Student Recruitment at International Schools: A Small Part of the Overall Picture

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Courtesy of Concordia International School Hanoi

These schools are the path of least resistance for colleagues who want to promote their institutions to overseas-bound students, including Vietnamese and expats.  For example, they tend to have guidance counselors who are fluent in English, which facilitates communication and there is little to no bureaucratic red tape associated with a visit.  

The reality, however, is that most of the students in Viet Nam who are planning to study overseas are Vietnamese enrolled in local public and private schools.  I would estimate that the national breakdown is 90% or more from Vietnamese schools.  (This is just an educated guess.)

Access to Vietnamese schools is more problematic, in some cities more than others, because of local rules and regulations.  Foreigners need a permit and schools have been inundated with requests from colleagues and education companies, all of whom are promoting institutions and programs. 

Since the schools’ primary mission is education, outside visits are a much lower priority in terms of staff resources and valuable teaching time.  Unless you know someone at a particular school, it’s very difficult to simply send someone you don’t know (and who doesn’t know you) an email and expect a positive outcome yet alone a response.  

In conclusion, while it’s worth visiting selected international schools, after determining your institution has what their students are looking for, e.g., many welcome the more selective schools, for example, you shouldn’t put too many of your outreach eggs in the international school basket, simply because they’re easier to gain access to.  It could end up being a waste of your precious time and travel/marketing funds.  

Peace, MAA

Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Đặng Thùy Trâm

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July 25, 1968: Oh, my God. How hateful the war is. And the more hate, the more the devils are eager to fight. Why do they enjoy shooting and killing good people like us? How can they have the heart to kill all those youngsters who love life, who are struggling and living for so many hopes?  -Đặng Thùy Trâm

11 years ago, Đặng Thùy Trâm’s wartime diaries were published in hardcover in the US.  In the summer of 2005, they had been published in Viet Nam, where the book became a bestseller.  (If you are unfamiliar with this poignant story, check out this overview and this October 2005 article.)  

Below is a letter that Ted Engelmann shared with the Vietnam Studies Group.  Ted is a veteran of the US war in Viet Nam to whom Fred Whitehurst gave the diaries at a 2005 conference at Texas Tech.  It was Whitehurst, then a 22-year-old military intelligence specialist, who defied orders to burn the diaries following the advice of his South Vietnamese translator, who told him “Don’t burn this one, Fred, it already has fire in it.”  

10 July 2018

To:  Viet Nam Studies Group (VSG)

Subject:  “Returning the Diaries of Dang Thuy Tram”

For several years I’ve been asked by many Vietnamese how the diaries of Dang Thuy Tram found their way back to her family in Ha Noi, Viet Nam.  People seem to realize the stories they’ve read and heard leave considerable doubt.

In case anyone in the VSG is interested, lo these many years later, here is the short version from the one who handed the “diaries” to the Tram family the evening of 25 April 2005.

Saturday, 17 March 2005, was an important moment in the history of the diaries.  At a conference sponsored by the Vietnam Center & Archives at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, I watched as Fred Whitehurst and his brother, Rob, donate the diaries of Dang Thuy Tram to the Archives.  That evening, Rob gave me (and others) a CD onto which he had scanned the two “diaries.”

A few days later, in Ha Noi, I asked a Vietnamese friend if she could tell me what was on the CD, since I wasn’t able to speak or read Vietnamese.  After reading a random passage for a few minutes, she teared up and quit.  To my surprise, she said the writing was too emotional for her to continue.   

Concerned about the emotional content, I asked another Vietnamese friend to look at the CD, telling her about the previous experience, and would she help me locate the family of the woman who wrote the diaries while I went to Saigon.  As an American War veteran, I wanted to make “final photographs” on 30 April 2005 for my photographic project, documenting the American War in Viet Nam.

After a couple days reading, my friend was about to give up looking for the family when she discovered Thuy’s father had been a doctor at the hospital near her village, a little north of Ha Noi; a revelation she explained thirteen years later.  That personal connection inspired her to look deeper.  A few days after calling the hospital for information, she made contact with the family who lived several blocks down the street from her office.

Sunday, 24 April 2005, I received a very early morning call at my Saigon hotel.  When I answered, a woman said she was Kim Tram, youngest sister of Dang Thuy Tram, calling from Ha Noi.  She understood I had some diaries and wanted to meet me right away.  Explaining I was in Saigon, she invited me to bring the diaries to her house in Ha Noi, and meet Mother Tram and her family the following day.  Although I had a splitting headache at that moment, I felt compelled as a messenger to oblige, and agreed to her plan.

A couple hours later at the Viet Nam Airline office, I bought a ticket to Ha Noi for the next day.  About an hour after I purchased my ticket, my stress headache disappeared.  With a clear head, I remembered to email Fred and Rob with the exciting news that Thuy’s family was alive.

Arriving in Ha Noi the next day, I took a taxi from Noi Bai airport to my hotel, where my friend left the CD at the front desk.  That evening, Kim, with sister Hien and her husband Ho Nam driving their SUV, arrived and took me to Kim’s home that she shares with Mother.  Entering the ground-floor living room, I was warmly greeted by Mother Tram, then introduced to her extended family, a packed house of relatives, two Vietnamese TV cameras, and many reporters. I was overwhelmed at being the center of attention, their friendliness, and their interest in my small package. 

Using my laptop, the family was immediately captivated by Thuy’s beautifully hand-written “diaries.”   Many tears were shed as the family sat on the couch, reading various entries during two stressful years, describing the private thoughts and feelings of a medical doctor from Ha Noi, treating wounded and dying soldiers at war with America in South Viet Nam, revealed for the first time to her own family, thirty-five years after her death.  Although buried in a martyr’s grave in Ha Noi, the spirit of a daughter and sister was finally safe and home from the war.

When it was time for me to leave, I gave the CD to the family with my best wishes.  While it felt good to help an American veteran (Fred Whitehurst, who had kept the diaries for so long), I was deeply honored to be a messenger of peace; returning a lost daughter to her family.

As you can tell, after having been given the CD, a Vietnamese woman and myself are the only two people directly involved in returning the diaries of Dang Thuy Tram…perhaps guided by Thuy’s spirit, if you believe in such things.

Thank you for your interest,

Ted Engelmann, Denver, CO

Peace, MAA

Over Half the World is Online; Viet Nam Among Top 10 for Facebook Use

Essential Insights Into Internet, Social Media, Mobile, and E-Commerce Use Around the World

2018 Q2 Global

Here’s the latest, according to We are Social and Hootsuite.  Of the 7.615 billion human beings on this planet, 4.087 billion are online, which equals a global Internet penetration rate of 54%.  3.297 billion of them are active social media users, which amounts to a 43% penetration rate.  (To view all 50 slides from this April 2018 presentation click on the link above or the screenshot.)  

What’s notable for Viet Nam is that it ranks 7th among countries with the largest active Facebook user bases with 58 million, a 16% YOY increase. Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) ranks 6th (!) with 14 million active users. Finally, related to these two rankings, the Vietnamese language ranks 7th with 61 million users.  Viet Nam’s current population is  96,509,781, based on the latest United Nations estimates, which means a nationwide Internet penetration rate of 63.20%.

For more information about Vietnamese online behavior, check out this 3-18 post I wrote for The PIE News entitled How the Vietnamese Use the Internet, Including Social Media.  

Peace, MAA

West Point in Viet Nam?

I can assure you that whoever created the original marketing and promotion campaign for Vinhomes West Point (2nd image) did not receive an Employee of the Month award.  I noticed this on Facebook and wondered how long it would last.  It was a lame attempt at honor and prestige by association by comparing the United States Military Academy West Point with a real estate project in the southwestern part of Hanoi.  From the horse’s mouth:  west point1vinhomes westpointName of the project get inspired by West Point prep school – the most prestigious Military Academy school of The United States which famous for its high quality learning conditions. High quality living condition is also the thing VinHomes is willing to bring to our customers. Main products of VinHomes West Point project are luxury apartments and Officetels.

I seem to recall a war that was fought on Vietnamese soil, known here as the American War in Viet Nam and in the US as the Vietnam War.  This war, which included West Point graduates among the US Army officers, resulted in the deaths of nearly 4 million Vietnamese and 300,000 Vietnamese MIAs, in addition to war legacies, e.g., Agent Orange, Unxploded Ordnance (UXO), Amerasians, etc.  

west point logoThe mission of West Point (the military academy) is “to educate, train and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the United States Army.”  That’s a far cry from a real estate project.  West Point in Viet Nam?  Textbook oxymoronic.  Talk about a nasty affiliation!  

Needless to say, a phone call must have been made, or an urgent email sent, and the original marketing campaign mercifully and quickly pulled.   There are some lines that should not be crossed when hawking a product or service.    

Peace, MAA

“Three-year-old girl dies after being stabbed at Idaho birthday party”

Girl’s death comes two days after man invaded her party and attacked nine people with knife

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Source:  Associated Press

How sad is that?  I’m not sure how much coverage this story received in the US but it was all over the international media.  I fully expected the assailant to be another angry, xenophobic, hate-filled white guy but this time it was an African-American man, presumably batshit crazy.  Even though the victims are refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Ethiopia, the local police chief says the evidence does not suggest the knife attack was a hate crime.  

This reminds me a little of Linh Dinh’s spot-on 2010 article House Slave Syndrome, which he begins with this thought:  A recent article declares, “Tired of war, thousands of Iraqis want to go to U.S.”  What it fails to mention is who triggered all the bloodshed. Who made conditions in Iraq so intolerable that these people must flee?

In addition to Iraq, that is also the case with Syria.  They make their way to the US only to be murdered in cold-blood.  They had to flee their home countries to the source of their suffering, a place where they thought they could find peace and rebuild their lives only to experience more bloodshed, this time their own, at the hands of a deranged killer.  

Peace, MAA