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[Xmca-l] Re: Request for advice



Hi - 

I"m in the midst of compiling responses to my request and therefore haven't responded on list.

There have been a number of comments that suggest that in emulating Top 100 universities in their textbooks, syllabi and language (English) lies a risk of losing Vietnamese culture. I don't think this is what's going on. This project, with its short deadline, centralized leadership, urgency and seemingly enthusiastic if nervous commitment on the part of the very young faculty, is in itself very Vietnamese. People aren't semi-committed or reluctant. Maybe I'm imagining this, and I've only been here 5 months and don't speak Vietnamese. The shift to a market economy has released, as expected, enormous amounts of energy; everyone is selling something, and so far, it's working for a lot of people. 

This excitement IS Vietnamese. As an American, I keep saying to myself, "This is how they won the war." Not just one war, either!

Although the rivers are filthy, the air (in the city) is toxic and leaves a dust of particulate on your tongue, and the "library" has almost no books. But they're building a new whole library building as we speak. They work 7 days a week, dawn to dark.

I think the risk in emulating Top 100 universities and requiring everyone (even the "guards" and the cleaners) to speak English too early is that people will create a local blend of Vietnamese and English which will not be intelligible beyond Vietnam. Any thoughts on that?

I'm trying to express the reasons for teaching bi-lingually in words that will not offend anyone and will get heard. Thanks to all of you who have responded.

Helena


Helena Worthen
helenaworthen@gmail.com
Vietnam blog: helenaworthen.wordpress.com

On Jan 6, 2016, at 2:38 AM, Annalisa Aguilar wrote:

> 
> Hi,
> 
> If I might pipe up again, I think Carol has synthesized things nicely here!
> 
> What emerges for me from what Carol said about surfaces is this...and is perhaps restating what she said (or what she implied):
> 
> Do the Vietnamese desire to copy the model of the "ideal of the Ivy League" because they want to replicate the surface features present, as evidence that they too will be a "quality school" in 20 years' time? OR do they want to adopt and embody the underlying processes present by which these features emerged so that their school culminates in a "quality school" ?
> 
> It seems to me if they value their own culture (which they must), it would have to be the latter and not the former, because the former would be only a simulacra and by creating a simulacra they would by default give up on their own culture, or at least whatever they value about their own culture, by supplanting *a notion* of quality rather than quality itself. By adopting instead processes of quality (over surface features), they would create quality as derived intrinsic to Vietnamese culture, because they will use processes identified as "universally" qualified for manifesting a quality school (in 20 years time).
> 
> But then having a feature of many libraries (in the high school, in the university, and in the home) is borne of the process of building a library collection (and Constitution that safeguards free speech and privacy, supposedly), and providing bookshelves and tables and chairs large enough (and sturdy enough) to hold all that thinking captured in books! 
> 
> Of course now that so much is digital, what would a library look like in 20 years in Vietnam?
> 
> Would they just have lots of bean bag chairs? and tablets (instead of tables)? and headphones with mics?
> 
> Remember that 70s TV show Love American Style? I thought of that too. But in this case: Ivy League University Vietnamese Style.
> 
> :)
> 
> Kind regards,
> 
> Annalisa