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Towards the Vietnamese Teachers’ Day, in celebration of two special teacher-mentors

Every year, we look forward to the month of November, to soak ourselves in the celebratory spirit of the Vietnamese Teachers’ Day, which for many Vietnamese has expanded into a “Vietnamese Teachers’ Month”. Young students and adults rush to visit their current and past teachers, bringing them flowers and presents to express their appreciation and honor for the teachers’ roles in their lives. One is reminded of the Vietnamese saying “Uống nước nhớ nguồn” (“When drinking water, think of the water source”).

In OCD Management Consulting, we’ve made it a tradition in November every year to celebrate the work of all the teachers, trainers, instructors, mentors on our team and around us.

This year we use this space to celebrate two special teachers-mentors who have been inspiring generations of OCDers over and over again, each in her own special way, throughout the 15-year journey of OCD Management Consulting:

The first teacher is Dr. Nancy Napier, the American professor with record number of MBA students from Vietnam (almost 100 of them, and counting!). Such immense her role was in developing the business teaching contingents for Vietnamese universities over the last 25 years that in 2017, the Government of Vietnam conferred on her the Vietnam Medal of Friendship. To Tang Khanh, Hoang Nga and her other MBA students, Nancy Napier is the professor who taught us not just business disciplines but leadership discipline as well. Nancy also show us many other creative ways to be a teacher and mentor even in unexpected circumstances of life.

 

The second teacher-mentor to be celebrated this year is one of our own, Nam Phuong, OCD Lead Consultant. As the Vice Chair of HR Association  since 2008, Phuong spends countless hours to mentor up young HR professionals, to cultivate their love for the HR profession and fast track their career in the HR world. True to the spirit “once a mentor, forever a mentor”, every year since 2004 Phuong volunteers to develop Vietnamese children into global citizens, with the international non-profit CISV, helping the Vietnamese chapter of CISV grow from a handful number of participating children. Phuong’s character-development activities with children is described by Nancy Napier in her recent book below.

Kudos to our teachers-mentors and Happy Vietnamese Teachers’ Day!

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From the book “What We See, Why We Worry, Why We Hope: Vietnam Going Forward”

The Vietnamese are humble and boastful. The Vietnamese are patient and love to gamble. They “swallow their insides” and take humiliation. We are like water buffalo—hardworking, not aggressive, obedient, and patient. But when provoked, watch out.  When the water buffalo is pushed over some limit, it goes crazy, and can be very dangerous. Nothing will stop it. The Vietnamese people are the same—patient, hardworking, but if pushed, they’ll push back.

Senior Vietnamese business manager

Every summer, Ms. Nam Phuong  goes camping in the outskirts of Hanoi, far enough from the city to be among trees, close enough to town that the trip doesn’t tire her fellow campers. Phuong and a colleague from her consulting firm take several eleven-year-old children of her other colleagues for an exciting and memorable two-night experience. The children are not too young and not too old. They’ve found that, for this experience, this age is just right.

During the first afternoon, the kids learn how to build a village.  They collect wood, design structures and build small huts to make a village around a fire pit.  They play in the village, deciding who will live where, who is the village chief, and how the others fit into their new society.  They make dinner, tell stories like campers anywhere, and settle in for the night, anticipating one more fun day. But Phuong and her colleague know something the children do not.

The next morning the children awake to destruction. Their village, built with such pride and fun, is gone. The wooden huts lie collapsed in heaps and piles of splintered wood. The few belongings that the children brought have been ripped from their backpacks, torn to shreds, and lie dirty on the ground.  Nothing is useable. The children stand around, mouths open, looking to the adults for answers.

The two women are volunteers in the CISV program (formerly known as the Children’s International Summer Villages), a group that educates children about peace.  The women ask the children how they feel about their destroyed village. Devastated, of course. So the women carefully talk through what they know from real experience and what the children are learning through this simulated one.

“This is Vietnam’s history. Over and over, our villages have been destroyed by war, in fighting.  Invaders kill our people, our families, take our belongings and our food. Our villages burn or collapse. It happens so often and peace comes so rarely that we must always prepare for the destruction of war. We may have peace for a few decades but do not get soft. War will come again, sometime. Always, always be ready.”

But they also help children understand that just as they feel sad about their village, they need to remember that others would feel the same. So they urge them to remember those feelings and try to think about not destroying others’ villages, but rather to work toward peace.

Then the children rebuild the village during the day. But they do so with limited resources, since so much was destroyed, and in the process they learn that it becomes even harder to build their dream village. Still, the children try to build a sturdier one. They talk about who should be guards and stay awake at night and how to fight off invaders the next time. Then, with visions of destruction and unpredictability burned into their memories, they return home.  

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From Napier, N.K. and Hoang, V.Q. (2013). What we see, why we worry, why we hope: Vietnam Going Forward. Boise: CCI Press: pp. 1-3.

Used with permission. 

Dau Thuy Ha

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