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Portland Leadership Institute

Nourish the Leader Within You

Leadership for the 21st Century


Teaching in Asia

Posted on 16 November, 2012 at 2:43
These five weeks were among the most extraordinary of my life.  This was some of the most important work I have ever done. 

(First, let me apologize for the lack of writing in the last few weeks.  Teaching got crazy, we spent much time focused on Hurricane Sandy and our relatives back east, and I lost control over time.  I expect to write a number of messages about Asia in the next week or so.) 

It is difficult to describe what teaching in Asia, especially Viet Nam, meant to me.  The focus here is on Viet Nam, because we had 4 full weeks there.  I taught two hours each day (the typical PSU course is four hours/week).  I believe that China would have had the same impact; however, all I had there were three two-hour lectures.

It was amazing what the students learned.  We were told that these students were the best in their program, and they did not disappoint.  They were learning English and HRM simultaneously, so I covered less than I would normally cover in a similar PSU course.  However, focusing and concentrating did wonders to their work.  Their projects were commensurate with what our juniors would do, all being clearly acceptable or higher.

Their verbal abilities increased amazingly over time, especially as Jeanna spent more and more personal time with them.  We put a money jar in the room, required them to contribute 1000 Vietnamese Dong (all of 5 cents!) toward the final day's party whenever they spoke Vietnamese.  It was a badge of pride to not contribute!  I forced the microphone in their face, and they had no choice but to speak.

And then there was Jeanna's work with them, sometimes in small groups, often one-on-one.  She coached and nurtured them.  Where I can be intimidating, she was everyone's friend.  She got the best out of them.  The results showed. 

We also worked on their study skills.  They began with a different perspective on taking notes, one that may have worked for them so far, but that would not lead to the results we desired.  It was as simple as telling them to take notes on project work that they performed in class, project work where they began writing their final reports in class.  They had to keep track of what we did in class; most had never done this previously.  We had to teach them to do it.  They learned quickly.

Their final oral reports were incredible.  They had the necessary HRM content, their language skills had clearly improved, and many of them projected their voice to the back of the room.  We were quite pleased.

Some of the groups used video; we are enclosing one for you.  Although not directly HRM related, it shows the job they analyzed (bartender in a coffee shop), and is an example of the flair and humor many of them had.

I can't say enough for what happened in our four weeks in Viet Nam.  Their development was enormous.  They worked hard, soaked up what we gave them, retained interest.  They jumped higher than we had ever seen with any group.  We are excited for them.  We'll be back. 

Categories: Teaching around the world

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