April 11, 2014 by Dr. Shawn Daly
Two sets of meetings today: first at the St. Paul International School, then the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The St. Paul School is a private K-12 school for international residents (though such schools have recently been allowed to take in local students as well). It was a lot of fun to watch the students and teachers go through their paces in such similar ways as U.S. classrooms. But that had less to do with the College of Business...
The Ministry of Home Affairs is the human resources department for the government of Vietnam. Thus, their interests are very much in line with the College of Business. We talked about many different opportunities to cooperate on training, development, short courses, and degrees. More meetings are coming later in our trip.
As for cultural observations, Vietnam is a rapidly developing nation. Traffic is chaotic (our colleague, Dr. Colley, periodically screams out in fear that our van will collide with various pedestrians, moped riders, cars, and trucks. But, in the end, we don't.).
As expected, the underlying culture basis is Chinese, so everything looks very familiar to someone used to China. But what's different is the level of personal friendliness. Whereas the Chinese can initially be more reserved in comparison to their U.S. counterparts (at least until you know them quite well), the Vietnamese people engage very quickly, much more American-like. The other obvious difference is the nature of physical contact: whereas we have large personal spaces, Asian people stand and talk much more closely together. In addition, Vietnamese people are more likely to put their hands on you and their arm around your shoulder in personal conversation - something we've probably lost in our culture over time.
So, off to another round of meetings today. Dr. Colley and I make formal, extended presentations about performance evaluation and management by objective.