If I Were US Ambassador to Vietnam…

if i were us amb to vn

Here is my latest piece for CounterPunch.  Think of it as a Viet Nam-related sociopolitical fantasy.  A guy can dream, can’t he? 

MAA

 

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Recent Discussion with US Students – United by Viet Nam!

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Twice a year, I have the opportunity, schedule permitting, to speak to a group of US students who are in Viet Nam for the semester under the auspices of the School for International Training’s Vietnam – Culture, Social Change, and Development program.

They come from a range of higher education institutions, mostly private liberal arts colleges, and are majoring in a variety of subjects, including Anthropology, Asian Studies, Biopsychology, History, Human Rights & Democratization, International Studies, Microbiology, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Women’s Studies

While the students are based in HCMC, they travel from south to north as part of the program.  Some stay in Hanoi to do an internship, a program requirement, while their classmates return to HCMC, or go to another location to do the same.  

As I told them, it’s a rare opportunity for me to share my knowledge of and passion for Viet Nam with US students.  (Most of my interaction with US Americans is with colleagues from secondary and postsecondary institutions.)  My time with them, the better part part of a weekday morning, consists of a presentation, an overview of what I consider to be some of the defining characteristics of Viet Nam – a country I know from books, articles, reports, and personal experience – and discussion. 

I always ask them why they chose Viet Nam as a study abroad destination.  In 2015-16, the top 10 destinations for US students were the UK, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, China, Ireland, Australia, Costa Rica, and Japan.  (Not surprisingly, the top five were in Europe.)  There were 1,012 US students in Viet Nam, most on short-term programs.  To put that number in perspective 325,339 American students received academic credit last year for study abroad in 2015/2016.  One of the reasons mentioned was the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone.  I’m pretty sure that Viet Nam has not disappointed in that respect.

I also want to know which students have become passionate about Viet Nam in their short time here, and who plans to make this dynamic and exciting country a part of their academic, professional, and personal future.  There are usually two or three who fall into this category.  Amy Tournas, a Colby College student and aspiring journalist/writer, is one of them.  Below is an excerpt from one of her blogs, Does Anybody Know I’m here?, about the first part of her first day in Hanoi

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First Days of Hanoi

November 15, 2017

Amy Tournas

After arriving at 11 pm, driving to the hotel to be told there wasn’t room for all of us, and then having to walk 20 minutes down the road to another hotel, we finally were in Hanoi!

We classically woke up early and headed through the streets of Hanoi. On our first morning, we met a man named Mark Ashwill. Mr. Ashwill is the co-founder of Capstone Vietnam among many other things. We had a discussion about many different aspects of Vietnam, and talked a lot about his journalism and papers he has written in his life about many controversial topics. He really engaged us because a lot of it was centered around things we are all interested in. I was really captured by his view of the War, along with the books he recommended to us. He told us of the book titled Kill Anything That Moves, which is an extremely controversial book that reveals the horrors of the war in a way that explains parts of the war that many Americans did not want to know about. I haven’t started reading it yet, but my friend just finished it and said it was extremely difficult to get through. I’m looking forward to reading it but I am not looking forward to being further exposed to the horrors of the war.

Another book that he recommended to us which I actually started a few days before we met him was a book called The Sympathizer. Though I am only one hundred pages in, I am already deep in it. Its not the actual story that I think that I am in love with, though a story about a communist spy in America is extremely fascinating. It is the language in which the author speaks that really pulls me in further. It actually gives me shivers when the author, Viet Thanh Nguyen writes. When he says things like, “As the debacle unfolded, calcium and lime deposits of memory from the last days of the damned republic encrusted themselves in the pipes of my brain.” The way he speaks is just astounding. The Sympathizer is fantastic that I think anyone who is interested in the War should read.

The morning with Mr. Ashwill was pretty inspiring. He has such passion for both the world and Vietnam. The pieces he has written are incredible. I will attach some of them to this post because I think his words are provocative and inspiring, and he is someone I hope to be like when I am older; he is so passionate about his work.

MAA

Global Learning in a Time of Increased Xenophobia and Extreme Nationalism

nafsa logoThis is the title of an upcoming webinar that is the first in NAFSA’s Academic Programs six-part Architecture for Global Learning – Series II.  Here is a brief description:

Many institutions integrate global learning into curricula and co-curricular programming with the goal of producing graduates capable of contributing solutions to global problems. However, institutional leaders, faculty, and managers of global learning environments now face mounting anti-international rhetoric and policy.

Join NAFSA Academic Programs for the first session in our six-part Architecture for Global Learning – Series II. Listen to and discuss the perspectives of leading international education scholars and practitioners on the state of global learning as we enter a period of increased populist and anti-international rhetoric and action. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with experienced and informed global learning specialists who will answer questions of how and why extreme nationalism affects global learning. Presenters will provide their views and responses to participant questions on how to continue to support and implement global learning pedagogies and programs that are under attack.

I agree that it is a time of “increased xenophobia” in many countries but disagree that nationalism, extreme or otherwise, is anything new, especially in the US.  In that sense, the title is a bit misleading.  US nationalism, which I discuss in a 2016 University World News article entitled US nationalism – The elephant in the room and elsewhere, is nothing new and certainly didn’t begin to rear its ugly and exclusionary head when Donald Trump was elected president last November.  In fact, I have argued that the term is frequently misused by some of my distinguished colleagues when what they are actually referring to is nativism

I am pleased, however, to see that these issues are being debated. Nationalism in general and as an elephant in the room of the international education profession should be a key point, if not the centerpiece, of any consideration of intercultural competence, essentially a skill set, and global citizenship, also a mindset.  It is a discussion that should have been launched a long time ago.

MAA

 

 

Nativism Not Nationalism (!)

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In her 16 June 2017 University World News article US student mobility trends in a global context Rajika Bhandari refers to “the rise of nationalism around the world and what is perceived as a turning inward of many traditional host destinations that have typically attracted large numbers of students and scholars from around the world.”  A turning inward refers to nativism not nationalism.  Ms. Bhandari is not the first colleague to misuse this term nor is she likely to be the last, unfortunately.  Please see these articles for more information.

The turn to nativism hinders international education
Mark Ashwill – 20 January 2017 Issue No: 443

Nativism is defined as “the policy of protecting the interests of native-born or established inhabitants against those of immigrants” and often goes hand in hand with xenophobia. Nativism and nationalism are by no means mutually inclusive.

US nationalism – The elephant in the room
Mark Ashwill – 18 March 2016 Issue No: 405

…nationalism is defined as loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.

MAA

Dealing with the Elephant in the Room: US Nationalism

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I will be participating in a session, along with Ryan Buck, Texas State University, and Lee Lambert, Pima Community College (AZ) on US nationalism as an obstacle to the development of global citizenship at the 2017 AIEA (Association of International Education Administrators) annual conference, which takes places from 19-22 February in Washington, D.C.

Nationalism stands in the way of creating global citizens, but it is the subject few involved in international education in the United States want to speak about.  This session focuses on an essential yet neglected facet of international education, as it applies to both US American and international students: a mindset that transcends competencies and skill sets, how to overcome nationalism in pursuit of global citizenship.

Lee has been Chancellor of Pima Community College since July 1, 2013. Before coming to PCC, Lee was President of Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, WA. He also has served as Vice President for Human Resources and Legal Affairs at Centralia College in Centralia, Wash., and as Special Assistant to the President for Civil Rights and Legal Affairs at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.

Ryan is Assistant Vice President for International Affairs at Texas State University.  Before joining Texas State University, he served as the Executive Director of International Student Affairs at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. His portfolio included International Student and Scholar Services, International Education and Global Engagement (study abroad), international marketing and outreach, international admissions, the American Language Academy, and international partnerships, agreements and programs.

The 2017 AIEA Annual Conference focuses on the interplay between boundaries and connections in internationalization. International education leaders must negotiate boundaries due to cultural differences, wide-ranging institutional structures, divergent motivations and meanings, and distinct resource allocations – all of which vary from institution to institution, and nation to nation.

Boundaries create silos which, as Gillian Tett explains (in The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers, 2015, Simon & Schuster), present both problems and possibilities for advancement. Silos can create blinders and tunnel vision, discourage progressive thinking, reinforce status hierarchies, and foster skill sets that are epistemologically static and difficult to expand.

On the other hand, utilizing and sometimes repositioning silos can be productive by encouraging strategic thinking and avoiding inward looking approaches and proprietary impasses. (Source:  AIEA website)

MAA

 

“The turn to nativism hinders international education”

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What the United States desperately needs is more patriots and global citizens (the two are not mutually exclusive) and fewer nationalists. The golden question is how to transform the latter into the former. Can this be accomplished through education and training, or are there other factors at play that make this impossible?

Here’s my latest University World News essay, a response to a number of articles there and elsewhere that confuse nationalism with nativism.  (Note:  The title was supplied by the editor.)

My main point is that nationalism in the US is nothing new, nor is there a connection between a rise in nationalism and the ascendancy of Donald Trump.

…I would argue that the ‘turn’ is not toward nationalism, which clearly predates Trump’s election, but toward nativism, the result of populist anger about the negative effects of globalisation.

Follow this link to read the article in its entirety.

MAA

US nationalism – The elephant in the room

Nationalism stands in the way of creating global citizens, but it is the subject few involved in international education in the United States want to speak about.

Follow this link to read my latest article published by University World News, entitled US nationalism – The elephant in the room.  In a nutshell, it’s about nationalism, patriotism and the former as a barrier to the development of global citizens.  My perspective is probably one you’ve rarely, if ever, heard.

The responses to this article will likely fall into one of three categories:  1)  silence; 2) nationalists of various levels of commitment who go on the offensive; and 3) people who want to engage in a meaningful dialogue about this important issue.  It is the latter that I value and most look forward to.

MAA

UWN US Nationalism