Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Working at the Vietnam Women's Academy (an educational institution attached to the Women's Union)

Hello Vietnam Women's Academy
we've waited to see you, to hear your name
and now we've found you
and we are happy to be with you, our hearts aflame.
Vietnam Women's Union with your proud history
serving your nation, your women
and all the people of your Vietnam
Vietnam Academy showing the way
to advance the world, arm in arm.
 The Women's Academy is on a major street where it occupies both older buildings from years ago and a modern 15 story College just built and completed.

Teachers working with students in an exercise in which they demonstrated excellent skills in a simulation that we presented them on "mapping" a work place as part of a session on Collective Bargaining and CBA (collective bargaining agreements). 
The 50 students worked collectively in groups of 5 to a team.Their problem was how in an organizing drive to establish an effective communications network to support the organizing and collective bargaining.

After the 10 groups were given time to formulate their plan for how they would set up a communication network, one member reported on the collective work for the group.
Out in front of the still being  used but older building, the typical French design. 

This series of pictures are more of the student groups' reporters offering their organizing/communicating proposals.

The students in the Collective Bargaining Seminar and Simulation session.

Leanna out in front of the Women's Academy and Women's Union Buildings.

In the canteen in a section of one of the older style buildings.  Soon the
 canteen will be moved into the new building.

The used but still serviceable and in use older style building.

The New Women's Academy Education Building

On Sunday January3rd we boarded a mid-day Vietnam Airlines flight to the national capitol Hanoi to begin our volunteer work at the Vietnam Women's Academy, a newly re-organized and expanded higher education institution in Hanoi.  The Academy has about 2,000 students in four major subject areas: Social Work,  Business Administration and International Cooperation, Gender and Development, and Law.  The first two faculty have been the backbone of the Academy for many years, but the Gender Studies and Law departments were just organized in 2015 and are teaching their core courses while preparing the curricula for more courses to come on-line in 2016.

It is wonderful to see this dedication by the Women's Union and the government to educational work and focused on Gender and Law as it has to do with women and society.  The staff seem exceptional in their energy, educational preparation, and dedication to teaching first-class courses of study for the students attending the Women's Academy.  Leanna and I's volunteer work is being encouraged and accepted in all four disciplines.  We will work with both lecturers and professors in the several courses and with the students attending the Academy.  And of course we will be reaching out to our friends in the US when we are back home to secure their expertise and help for the Women's Academy.  With our background we are bringing perspectives on the subject matter grounded in our Labor Union work, our community organizing experience and our participation in the social movements in the US: in the gender equity and human rights movements as well as peace ... .  As an example this morning we spoke to and presented power points on Collective Bargaining and Collective Bargaining Agreements, CBAs, to Business Administration (remember in a socialist society business "leaders" are expected to support work rights) students who understood the material very well and as we hoped viewed it as members of the working class that is their national leadership, not as business students principally interested in securing wealth for corporations no matter the human costs in exploitation.  In the next few days we will facilitate role playing and case study simulations,  lecture with power points, and then participate in QandA sessions on a mass membership community organizing model for Social Work educators from several higher educational institutions invited to attend and participate. We'll also be working with Gender Study students about social dialog skills, meeting with small groups of students to practice English-speaking skills and making a presentation about our impressions of the law and women's rights in the USA (the prep discussion with the teachers was really impressive!).

The skills and commitment of the International Office staff is inspiring.  Three women are doing the work of a CROWD as they interact with the UN, women's groups from Laos, Cambodia, Japan and other countries.  Meanwhile they are working with us daily as talented interpreters and helping us with teaching materials.  And then there is a beautiful, comfortable room (what an urban view!) complete with wifi.  Two of these young women are also teaching English!

We have not yet had time to visit the Academy's kindergarten (of course!) or their on-site museum...so watch for more news!  We're also hoping there's time to visit a couple of Hanoi museum's we missed during our previous visits so we may get to share some more touring highlights.

BTW, folks tell us that there are Women's Union videos on Youtube.  Unfortunately for us all, the website is mostly in Vietnamese, but we still recommend internet exploring!


  1. Your work is so very exciting, engaging and hope filled! So glad to see your NEW posts!

  2. Sounds wonderful, Leanna and Hollis. Thanks for posting.

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