Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Still in Saigon

Tuesday in Saigon was another good day. After breakfast, the group attended a joint press conference with the VACC (Vietnamese Association of Community Colleges). The VACC is very newly formed and was modeled after the AACC. I believe they said that there are eight community colleges in Vietnam, and all were represented by officials at the press conference.

One of the many opportunities for collaboration that they spoke about was in the area of online training. This was my first good opportunity to talk about the collective power of Minnesota Online, my role on the MnOnline Council, and the possibility of a serious partnership between the VACC and MnOnline. The President of the VACC, Mr. Khanh Pham Tiet, and I had a good conversation about the possibilities related to online collaborations, and he promised to send more information for MnOnline to consider regarding becoming an associate member of the VACC.

The press conference was hosted by SEAMEO, the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization, at their regional training center. Apparently, all of the community colleges work together through SEAMEO and it was also necessary for the IIE and AACC to work through SEAMEO in order to get the invitation to visit Vietnam at all.

We had a very nice lunch at the top of the Grand Hotel in Saigon. Those seated at our table included (l-r) Ms. Phan Thi Ngoc Mai, Program Manager for SEAMEO Overseas Study Development; Mr. Than Trong Minh, Dean of English Language Training, Teacher Development, and Training; myself; Juh-muh-suh Boogey; Judy Irwin of the AACC, and Dr. Do Huy Thinh (“Ting”), Director of SEAMEO.

After lunch we had a break to take a rest, as they say, and then it was off to the Marie Curie School in Saigon. We were greeted by several thousand enthusiastic students of various ages as we walked through the building and courtyard on our way to an assembly hall where several hundred seniors and juniors were waiting for our presentation. Basically the purpose of this was to describe to them the benefits of an American Community College education, what they could expect if they attended one of the nearly 1,200 member schools of the AACC, and to encourage them to attend the Community College recruitment fair on Wednesday afternoon at the hotel.

In the evening we were hosted by the American Consulate in Saigon in a reception for both the AACC delegation and the VACC leaders. It was a mostly informal opportunity to mingle and chat about possibly collaboration opportunities between the two countries. We finished the evening with some dinner and shopping and a few new adventures to tell the gang back home when we return. Along the way we included a stop at the rooftop of the Rex Hotel because someone in our group (remaining nameless) wanted to see where the helicopter evacuation took place during the fall of Saigon.

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