Thursday, January 30, 2014

Here I am in Haiphong, with my friend Dzung, her husband and daughter. I met Dzung at MSU last year when she was studying international trade. She helps Haiphong's economic development by establishing business partnerships with international companies.

 While in Haiphong, I taught for two days- the first day with faculty and staff at Haiphong Private University about Performance Management and the second day, I worked with business students on the topic of Organizational Change (below).

Tricia and Alexa flew to Hanoi on December 29th to visit for a week- this is Tricia on our trip to Halong Bay, a beautiful area off the coast of Vietnam, with thousands of limestone islands jutting out of the water. We stayed on a boat for 2 nights and had lots of adventures- visited a fishing village, kayaked in the ocean, walked and rode bikes on Cat Ba Island, ate some amazing dishes, chatted with other passengers from all over the world, visited a huge cave system, etc. I was most happy just being with Tricia! Unfortunately, Alexa had fallen ill the night before, so Eric stayed behind and nursed her back to health.

 When Alexa got better, Tricia fell ill and so missed our outing to the bowling alley with Thao, my friend's daughter. We ate pizza, bowled and shopped in a beautiful mall-it was as if we had been suddenly transported back to the States.

 Some of my colleagues at the university (Hite, LyLy, Yong, Ha, Huong and Minh) took Alexa and I on a day trip to one of the newest and largest pagoda's in northern Vietnam, lunch at a restaurant that specializes in duck and then a boat ride through a number of caves.

Other university colleagues in the business school (Chi Anh, Hien and other staff) made lunch for Eric and I at Chi Anh's house-here Hien is teaching me how to roll the filling in rice paper to make speing rolls or Nem.
 A couple of days later I flew to Hue in central Vietnam where I presented an all day workshop for faculty and students on "Interactive Teaching Techniques" at the Hue University of Foreign Languages- here I am receiving a gift from the Rector (President) of the university. The photo below is a snapshot of faculty and students working on an exercise at the workshop.

 The next day, Eric and I flew to Ho Chi Minh City where I gave a presentation to faculty and students on conducting research at Ton Duc Thang University. Above is a photo of the faculty and students and the photo below shows us with Leanne Noble and Hollis Stewart, two labor educators who had been teaching at TDT for 6 months. In the middle is Vinh, a student and TDT employee who organized the workshop.

While in HCMC, I worked with other Fulbright Scholars from across Vietnam while Eric played. Here he is exploring the Chu Chi tunnels-one part of a series of tunnels that ran for miles through central Vietnam and were used during the war as a safe haven from the bombing/chemical weapons used by the Southern Vietnamese and Americans. They were build large enough for the Vietnamese to move through, but too small for the Americans who often got stuck or trapped while trying to invade the tunnels.
 We had our last reunion with the Fulbright crew and their family members in HCMC and enjoyed an amazing meal of seafood.
 We all found time to play on one of the days while in HCMC- touring the Mekong River...

 Our captain and crew...
 Eric at his favorite barbershop/barber- right on the street, like everything else. Eric is getting spiffed up for our "Thank you Party"- below are photos of our friends that made our stay in Vietnam so wonderful.

After our party and before taking off for Malysia, Eric and I take off on the motorbike for Ba Ve National Park, about 30 miles west of Hanoi. We visited the Ho Chi Minh monument and pagoda on top of BaVi Mountain- we counted the number of steps on the way down from the pagoda...1212!

 Eric proposes to me again in the ruins of an old French Church- a part of the French summer camp- a playground for the French during the hot season heat of Hanoi. So romantic.
Now we are in Kuching- East Malaysia- to visit my friend, Norseha Unin and her family. Norseha and her family lived in E. Lansing for six years while Norseha received her Ph.D. We first visited a stilt village in the jungle (I wish I had written down the names of all the places we visited!)
Many years ago, the tribes in the jungle practiced head-hunting as they fought their boundary battles with nearby villages.
 Kek Lapis, or Indonesian Layer Cake is sold throughout Kuching. It takes hours to make each cake and comes in an assortment of flavors- we visited one of the bakeries and sampled each flavor- sometimes twice. YUM.
 Here's the crew we spend three days with.. from left to right Humiera, Norseha, Sumayia, Fifi, Hisham, Effa, Feeka and Maya.
 We also visited the Fairy cave- the most amazing I have been in so far- so beautiful
Hisham and Norseha- we are waiting for the girls and to celebrate Feeka's 25th birthday. The seafood restaurant was huge- like a big market, but with large round tables, seating hundreds of people. To prepare for the next round of customers, the table clothes are gathered up (with all the dirty dishes still on the table), a new tablecloth spread out and more patrons seated.

 At Norseha's mom's house- also, her brother, sister-in-law and new baby live there.
Our farewell dinner at Norseha's house- the girls dressed up in matching Sarong's that Norseha had purchased in the market that day.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A group note from my students:

Dear Mrs. Julie Brockman
I am Tung Anh, your student in K56 Business Administration - UEB, where you taught the subject “Strategic Management”.

This email is on behalf of my class where we all respect the time we spent with you during the semester. We loved the way you made us study and also appreciate the knowledge you shared with us.

I remember the first day when you came to the class and asked everybody about their future plan. It was the most memorable moment for me. You taught us a lot of things about strategy and took many examples from big companies that made us easy to understand.  In addition, you helped me in pronunciation to sound like a native speaker and I think I am a pretty good speaker now. I really appreciate what you did.

I would like to say thanks to Mr. Eric. He was so cute. He shared with us a lot of practice knowledge and experiences about business. Thanks to him, we understood the realistic business and some common mistakes when we do business. Please tell him that we love him.

Say goodbye to 2013, I wish you happiness and health.
Wish you have a wonderful January, a lovely February, a Peaceful March, a stress-free April, a fun-filled May, and Joy that lasts from June to November, and finally a happy December. May my wishes come true and may you have a lucky New Year 2014.

On behalf of my class, I would like to say thank you once again.
“I would thank you from the bottom of my heart, but for you my heart has no bottom”

Yours sincerely,
Nguyen Tung Anh
 Besides teaching a course at the university, other faculty and faculty at other universities in Vietnam request guest lectures and workshops. The above photo is a picture of UEB class where I guest lectured on U.S. Industrial Policy.

 Above photo is a conference I attended and presented at in New Delhi, India the week of December 16th. John Dirkx and Lan Anh also attended- the conference provided an overview of food systems innovation in Southeast Asia- a USAID funded project with Michigan State University as a key player.  The doormen had a hard time performing their job because of all the photo requests- can you see why?
My strategic management course ended mid-December, followed by a pizza party for my students. After the pizza party (across the street from the university)- we sang and danced, and ended up inviting all of them to stay with us if they ever found their way to the States. I imagine we may get some visitors!

After class was over I headed for Haiphong- a port city about 3 hours drive from Hanoi.  I visited with my friend, Dzung, her daughter and husband (below) and ran a one-day workshop for faculty and a one-day workshop for students at Haiphong Private University on performance management and organizational change. See the photos they printed in their newsletter by clicking on the following website:

 Above is a photo of the faculty session and below are the students who participated in the student workshop.
The day after I returned from Haiphong, our girls arrived! We had planned a trip to Halong Bay for the four of us, however, Alexa got very sick and spent the entire night in the bathroom (we think food or beverage related)! Long story short, Tricia and I had a wonderful time in Halong Bay while Eric nursed Alexa back to health.

Then, Tricia got sick (food related), so she was unable to spend the day with Eric, Alexa, Thao and I where we bowled, ate pizza and icecream. Thao practiced her English and we enjoyed her enthusiasm for bowling!
The next day some of my colleagues at the university planned a day trip to Ninh Binh. Below, from L to R is Yong, Hite, LyLy, Alexa, Minh, Ha and Huong. Tonight the girls are heading to the Hanoi airport to return to the snow and cold in Michigan. I hope they don't get stuck in Seoul for the next couple of days.
 Alexa and Hite trade hats on the boat trip which took us through 6 caves in Ninh Binh province.