Happy 9th Birthday, Capstone Vietnam!

birthday cake capstone

This week, Capstone Vietnam, a full-service educational consulting company that I co-founded in 2009 and of which I am managing director, celebrated its 9th birthday.  It has been a helluva ride, one I’ve found to be deeply rewarding on many levels. 

Logo Recruit in vietnam final-01As I mentioned to a colleague the other day, the best situation is when you are able to exploit your own labor rather than have to sell it to someone else and allow them to exploit it (you), to paraphrase Karl Marx.  More about that in this 2017 interview.  

10thLooking forward to celebrating our 10th anniversary and 10 years of Reaching New Heights in September 2019!  

Peace, MAA


The 2nd Annual Strategic Recruitment Workshop in Viet Nam: June 2017

Below is some information about a Strategic Recruitment Workshop that I’ll be leading next June in Dalat, Viet Nam.  Please follow this link to the Capstone Vietnam website for additional information, including schedule, cost, and online registration.

Group photo taken at the first Strategic Recruitment Workshop last June in Phan Thiet Viet Nam.


After a very successful first Strategic Recruitment Workshop last June in Phan Thiet, we have decided to organize a second one.  You are cordially invited to join me, my staff and other presenters for two full days in beautiful Dalat in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam to receive a detailed briefing about student recruitment in Vietnam.

This workshop will take place from June 19-21, 2017 following the ICEF Thailand – Viet Nam Agent Roadshow in HCMC and our two StudyGlobal Education Fairs in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Hanoi.  I’m pleased to acknowledge Study in the USA as an event sponsor.


The purpose of this workshop is to give you the tools you need in terms of knowledge, insights and strategy in order to increase your chances of success in recruiting Vietnamese students in what has become a highly competitive market in recent years.


In addition to Dr. Mark Ashwill, Managing Director, presenters will include educational advisers from Capstone’s Hanoi and HCMC offices, marketing specialists, high school leaders, and students currently studying overseas.

Each participant will receive a copy of Keys to Successful Student Recruitment in Viet Nam, an up-to-date guide written by Dr. Ashwill, and a packet of materials with information about Vietnam, and facts and figures about student recruitment.

Target Audience

The workshop is intended for any colleague from a regionally accredited institution in the US or an officially accredited institution in another country with an interest in learning more about Viet Nam and factors related to student recruitment.  Last year, colleagues included recruiters, deans, directors, and other senior international education officials.  The number of participants is limited to 25. 


This is a view of Xuan Huong Lake looking down from the Dalat Palace Hotel.  Photo: MAA

Dalat (Đà Lạt) is the capital of Lâm Đồng Province.  The city is located 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) above sea level on the Lang Bian Plateau in the southern part of the Central Highlands region. Dalat, known as the honeymoon capital of Viet Nam, is a popular tourist destination.  With its year-round cool weather, the city supplies a wide range of agricultural products and has a highly successful flower industry.  Dalat is known as the “city of thousands of pine trees” because of the pine forests and the “city of eternal spring” because of the year-round mist that appears in the valleys.

Selected Testimonials from 2016

The retreat provided crucial insight into and practical takeaways from myriad aspects of student recruitment in Viet Nam. It also afforded excellent networking opportunities among US higher education institutions and Vietnamese educational sectors.  (Steven Hales, Dean of International Education, Contra Costa Community College District)

I really learned a lot about the Viet Nam market vis-à-vis the type of non-degree or pre-degree programs that we offer. I’m not new to the field, I’m not new to recruitment, but as we are fairly new to Viet Nam as a market, it was important to learn. And, I did. So much.  (Denise Davis, Director, International Programs, Division of Continuing Education, University of California, Irvine)

I am really impressed with the Strategic Recruitment Retreat that was organized by Capstone. The retreat was well-organized and provided critical insights into marketing strategies in the Vietnamese market.  You really need a trustworthy partner like Capstone who knows this market inside and out. (Emily Liu, International Recruitment Specialist, English Language Institute, University of Delaware)

Whether your institution just started recruiting Vietnamese students or has had a few years of recruitment experience, you will be able to gather a lot of helpful information about the market from this retreat. Capstone staff are all very enthusiastic about their mission of assisting institutions to develop strategies to recruit Vietnamese students. Besides work time, the location of the retreat was perfect to let us enjoy some downtime & relax.  (Le To, Adviser, New Mind Education)

About Mark A. Ashwill, Workshop Leader

That’s me with Michael Michalak, then US Ambassador to Viet Nam, after we spoke at the 2009 VietAbroader Summer Study Abroad Conference in Hanoi.

Dr. Ashwill is an educational entrepreneur who has lived and worked in Viet Nam for over a decade.  He served as country director of the Institute of International Education from 2005-09 and co-founded Capstone Vietnam, a full-service educational consulting company later that year.

A 2011 Hobsons consultant’s report noted that “The work of Dr. Mark Ashwill, formerly of IIE, and the former US Ambassador, Michael Michalak, helped to promote the United States as a destination for Vietnamese students, and strengthened the ties between the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) and US universities.” In June 2012, Jeff Browne wrote on his Vietnomics blog that “Much of the credit for the strengthening US-Viet Nam higher education link goes to Hanoi-based educator, Mark Ashwill, director of Capstone Vietnam and key advisor to student-run nonprofit VietAbroader, both of which help Vietnamese students navigate the American education culture.”

Speaking at a 2014 meeting convened by Prof. Phung Xuan Nha, then president of Vietnam National University-Hanoi and now Minister of Education & Training, about higher education admission reform.

He has written extensively about recruitment-related issues on his blog and in articles, and has presented on the same at NAFSA and other national and international conferences.  He has served as an informal adviser to the VNU (Hanoi) Institute for Education Quality Assurance (INFEQA) and frequently been interviewed by journalists from print and electronic media on a host of education-related issues. 

Dr. Ashwill has also presented at numerous workshops, conferences and seminars in Viet Nam and the US on issues related to US-Viet Nam educational exchange, student recruitment, accreditation, higher education admission, and global citizenship and intercultural competence, among other topics.

Dr. Ashwill has served as an adviser to VietAbroader since its founding in 2004, is a member of the Advisory Board of Teachers for Vietnam, a US-based non-profit organization, and is a blogger for The Huffington Post.  He is the author of Vietnam Today: A Guide to a Nation at a Crossroads (with Thai Ngoc Diep), which was published in 2005 by Intercultural Press (now Nicholas Brealey Publishing).  Vietnam Today, a substantive cultural introduction to the country, has been widely cited and is considered to be among the best books of its kind.  He was the first US American to be awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialists Grant to Viet Nam in 2003.

Dr. Ashwill is widely viewed as a thought leader in the field of international education in general and US-Viet Nam educational exchange in particular.  He has spent his entire career working in various areas of international education, including study abroad, language & culture instruction, Fulbright advising, educational advising, & international student recruitment in three different sectors:  public, non-profit and private. 

About Capstone Vietnam

8th-capstone-01-01-01Capstone Vietnam is a full-service educational consulting company with offices in Hanoi and HCMC.  In its nearly eight (8) years of operation, Capstone Vietnam has earned a reputation for quality service and ethical business practices.  We work exclusively with regionally accredited institutions in the US market, the only company in Viet Nam (and perhaps the world) that does, and officially accredited institutions in other countries.

Happy Birthday, Capstone Vietnam! Chúc mừng sinh nhật, Capstone Việt Nam!

LOGO-5thyears_Capstone vietnamA special greeting on the occasion of Capstone Vietnam’s 5th Birthday.

16 September 2014

Dear Friends,

It has been five years since Capstone Vietnam was born. Five years of hard work, sacrifice, ups and downs, rewards and, ultimately, a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment at what we have been able to achieve – together.

Our mission is simple yet supremely challenging: to leverage opportunities for individuals and institutions to succeed through a variety of high-quality education and training solutions. Yes, I’m biased, but in my opinion, Capstone Vietnam has created something new, something fresh, something that meets a need and fills a void in the marketplace. This newness includes our services, our approach and our way of doing business.

Capstone is defined is as a “high point” or “crowning achievement,” the best an individual or organization can achieve, and the inspiration for our slogan Reaching New Heights. We are dedicated to enabling our clients to do just that, be it through institutional services, overseas study advising or other education and training activities. Our slogan guides and inspires us, and propels us forward, as do our values.

Vietnam’s greatest resource is its people – hard working, motivated, always on the move and in search of ways to enrich their lives and enhance their marketability through education and training. Every individual has enormous reserves of untapped potential and undiscovered talents. Our goal at Capstone Vietnam is to help our clients “reach new heights,” tap that potential, reveal those hidden talents and make a meaningful and lasting difference in the lives of individuals, organizations and society.

I would like express my heartfelt gratitude to our many clients and partners in Vietnam, the U.S. and elsewhere, both institutional and individual, who have placed their trust in Capstone Vietnam. I’m grateful for your support and for the opportunity we have been given. I’d also like to thank our hardworking and dedicated staff who have become full-fledged members of the Capstone family. You make it happen.

Happy 5th Birthday, Capstone Vietnam! 5 Years of Integrity – Learning – Global Awareness – Innovation – Results! 5 Years of Reaching New Heights! We look forward – with great excitement and anticipation – to what the next five years will bring and what contributions we can make.

All my best,

Mark A. Ashwill, Ph.D./Managing Director


16 tháng 9 năm 2014

Các bạn thân mến,

Đã tròn năm năm kể từ khi Capstone Vietnam ra đời. Năm năm của sự nỗ lực, sự hy sinh; năm năm với biết bao thăng trầm, những thành quả, và trên tất cả là một cảm nhận sâu sắc của sự hài lòng và mãn nguyện về những gì chúng tôi đã đạt được – khi cùng sát cánh bên nhau.

Sứ mệnh của chúng tôi thật đơn giản nhưng vô cùng thách thức: làm thế nào để tối ưu hóa cơ hội vươn tới thành công của các cá nhân, tổ chức thông qua những giải pháp đa dạng về giáo dục và đào tạo chất lượng cao. Vâng, có thể tôi hơi thiên vị, nhưng theo ý kiến của tôi, Capstone Vietnam đã đạo ra một cái gì đó rất mới, rất tươi, thứ có thể đáp ứng được nhu cầu hiện hữu và lấp đầy một khoảng trống trên thị trường. Sự tươi mới này bao gồm những dịch vụ, cách thức tiếp cận và đường lối kinh doanh của chúng tôi.

Từ Capstone trong ngôn ngữ được định nghĩa là “đỉnh cao” hay “thành tựu tột đỉnh”, là điều cao nhất mà một cá nhân hay tổ chức có thể đạt được, và là nguồn cảm hứng cho khẩu hiệu của chúng tôi: Vươn tới những đỉnh cao. Đó cũng chính là mục tiêu mà chúng tôi luôn cống hiến hết mình để giúp khách hàng đạt được, cho dù thông qua các dịch vụ dành cho tổ chức, các dịch vụ tư vấn du học hay các hoạt động về giáo dục và đào tạo khác. Chính khẩu hiệu đó đã dẫn đường, truyền cảm hứng, và đẩy chúng tôi vươn tới phía trước, cũng như những giá trị mà chúng tôi luôn theo đuổi.

Nguồn tài nguyên quý giá nhất của đất nước Việt Nam chính là con người –  những con người lao động hăng say, đầy ý chí nhiệt huyết, năng động, và luôn tìm kiếm con đường để làm giàu cuộc sống, tăng cường sự tiếp cận thị trường thông qua giáo dục và đào tạo. Trong mỗi cá nhân đều chứa đựng nguồn trữ lượng khổng lồ những tiềm năng chưa được tận dụng và những tài năng chưa được khám phá. Mục tiêu của chúng tôi tại Capstone Vietnam là giúp đỡ khách hàng “vươn tới những đỉnh cao”, khai phá tiềm năng, bộc lộ những tài năng ẩn giấu, và tạo nên sự khác biệt có ý nghĩa lâu dài trong cuộc sống của các cá nhân, tổ chức, và xã hội.

Tôi muốn bày tỏ lòng biết ơn từ trái tim mình tới rất nhiều khách hàng và đối tác của chúng tôi tại Việt Nam, Hoa Kỳ và ở những nơi khác, cả các tổ chức và các cá nhân, những người đã đặt niềm tin vào Capstone Vietnam. Tôi biết ơn vì sự hỗ trợ của các bạn và vì cơ hội mà các bạn đã mang đến cho chúng tôi. Tôi cũng muốn cám ơn những nhân viên đã làm việc hăng say và cống hiến hết mình cho công ty, những người đã hoàn toàn trở thành một phần của gia đình Capstone. Các bạn đã làm cho tất cả những điều này trở thành hiện thực.

Chúc mừng sinh nhật lần thứ 5, Capstone Vietnam! 5 năm của sự Chính trực – Học hỏi – Nhận thức toàn cầu –  Đột phá – những Thành quả! 5 năm một chặng đường Vươn tới những đỉnh cao! Chúng tôi mong chờ – với sự phấn khích và mong mỏi to lớn – những gì mà chặng đường 5 năm tới sẽ mang đến và những đóng góp mà chúng tôi sẽ tiếp tục cống hiến.

Thân mến,

Mark A. Ashwill, Ph.D.

Giám đốc điều hành

An International Educator in Vietnam (IEiV) Turns 3

It’s hard to believe that my first post was three years ago.  Over 300 posts later and heading into its fourth year, IEiV is still going strong.  Interestingly and probably not coincidentally, the life span of my blog parallels that of Capstone Vietnam, of which I’m managing director.  (Capstone celebrated its third birthday earlier this fall.)  I’ve found both to be enormously rewarding.

As I mentioned last year, I enjoy and value the relative freedom of expression that this blog affords me; the opportunity to speak my mind without being subject to an employer’s pre-approval policy or semantic nitpicking (i.e., censorship) all in the name of pleasing or rather not alienating its primary benefactor.

I’ve noticed a number of Vietnamese visiting my blog and using online translation tools to understand it.  As a result, I may create a Vietnamese version of IEiV in the coming year with somewhat different content.  (If I do, it will not be under the auspices of WordPress.)

Earlier this year, I started sending out an e-newsletter to US higher education colleagues and others with an interest in Vietnam and education-related matters.  Each issue has included links to news items and commentary on IEiV.  If you’re interested in staying up-to-date on Vietnamese student recruitment, other activities in Vietnam and/or the work of Capstone Vietnam, please drop me a line.  I’d be happy to add you to my mailing list.

Happy Birthday, IEiV!  Here’s to many more years of Information, Insights & (Occasionally) Intrigue!