Diving into a completely different culture is like plunging into an icy lake; excruciating or exhilarating, depending on your attitude! Our guests were thoroughly dunked in American culture (the California and Colorado varieties), meeting new people and entering into new experiences, and came up smiling. Dzung and My were both perfect candidates for our launch of the J-1 element of the AMCC program. The J-1 Visa, by the way, provides cultural and educational exchange opportunities in the United States through a variety of programs overseen by the U.S. State Department.
The AMCC program, you may recall from last month, is a new initiative between REI and HANU. Together we are developing a two-year certificate program for a limited number of students who would be willing to invest time in class preparation and completing assignments rather than simply sitting in on a class. Through the hard work and investment of many hours of several people, notably Dean Thu, Vice-dean Nga, our own Del Goehner and John Scruton-Wilson, the program is taking form. At this point we have decided upon these areas of emphasis: Strategic Planning, Cross-cultural Communication, Strategic Leadership, Ethics in Business, and Financial Structure, Analysis and Reporting. We plan to launch our initial certificate class in October for 25 screened and selected students. Other students will participate in the lectures and presentations, but will not be required to do the necessary prep and follow-up.
In addition, through the sponsorship of some of our Business Team members (notably Don and Lassie Colebourn and Bob and Suzanne Garrett), two Vietnamese, a faculty member and a student or recent graduate, will be selected annually to come to the USA on a J-1 visa. During their 3-week stay Dzung and My interviewed a number of business leaders in California and Colorado, asking good questions, seeking to better understand how good business practices in the USA can find their suitable expression in Vietnam. Both Dzung and My were charged by their colleagues at HANU to learn all they could, and then to bring an extensive report back to share.
Dzung and My met with an impressive variety of business leaders. From small innovative start-up companies to globally renowned industry leaders to visionary university faculty, our guests were exposed to a wide spectrum of businesses, perspectives and principles. And they also got to experience a slice or two of American culture, from rooting for the home team at a major league baseball game, to chugging up Pike’s Peak on the cog railway, to watching the Rio Olympics opening ceremony on the big open-air screen in Colorado Springs in the company of hundreds of enthusiastic sports fans.
But exposure to American business leaders was the heart of the program. “I learned so much,” My said later. “I was so impressed with how so many people were willing to give of their time and experience to us, without expecting anything in return.” In truth, we were all beneficiaries of the generosity of many.
And that’s life, isn’t it? We are all beneficiaries of the kindnesses of others, in many forms. We at REI are fully committed to this idea of giving first, investing in the present with an eye to the future. Since you are reading this article, it is likely that you, too, share this value. As Dzung and My return to Vietnam and share what they have learned and observed during their brief time in the US, we believe that they too will make a significant contribution to the building up of their people through giving, not taking; through sharing, not hoarding, in order to build up their nation.