Getting Ready 24

Getting Ready 24

We got our work plans from Vinh, signed by the President, Le Vinh Danh. We are called “Visiting Lecturer.” The semester will be from August 15 through January 31, 2016. This brings us right up to Tet, I think.

In addition to teaching 15 sessions of our own classes (“The Art of Leadership” – me, and “Community Mobilization,” – Joe) we will prepare lecture materials and help in three subjects: Principles of Labor Relations, two sessions of Bargaining Skills between trade unions and employers, and 2 sessions of Labor Relations Strategy. We will research curriculum, teaching materials and books for new curriculum subjects and rehearse four sessions for four subjects in the new curriculum. I think I know what that means: Collective Bargaining Agreements, Labor Contract Administration, Trade Union administration, and writing in Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining. The idea is to assist the faculty in learning teaching methods for the new curriculum. We’ll also conduct 6 sessions of simulations on leadership, bargaining, mediation and trade union administration for students and 2 academic workshops for students. They also want us to conduct 2 workshops sharing western teaching and research methodology for lecturers and make comments on their training programs.

Leanna, Hollis and Richard warned us that we were going to be busy. It looks as if we will be working morning till night. However, all of this seems possible. It is definitely the kind of thing we have done before.

I’ll need to re-sort my books that I want to bring, once I get back to California. Also, I have to make sure that I can access the University of Illinois library collections remotely. I have all the email correspondence with the librarians plus my Emerita card, so it should work. Turns out that I do not have access to the UC Berkeley online collections. I can take out books, though – but not take them to Vietnam.

Tan Duc Thang will host us both for 6 months and provide a stipend of 9M VDM per month per person, which is apparently generous and should cover basic expenses. They will also sponsor visits to Nha Trang city for 3 days in September, Da Lat for three days in November, and the Cu Chi Tunnel, HCMC for 1 day in January. We’ll have internet, desks, computers and business cards, student volunteers and a lecturer-translator, who I assume will be Vinh.

Pretty exciting. Pretty amazing. Lots to do, still. I’m on Chapter 6 of the Northouse book, trying to capture the main points of each chapter, make a few comments and get ready to move the text to powerpoints. Joe finally was able to get his book delivered. The first vendor, Valore, wouldn’t send it to a PO box and didn’t understand that in rural Vermont people in villages don’t have house delivery – you have to live out in the township to get Rural Free Delivery. Our house number is only a 911 address, not a postal address. Eventually, he bought it from Amazon although it cost him over $100 to get the book delivered overnight via UPS. It’s a lightweight paperback called Social Persuasion by Gass and Seiter. The cover gives away the tone of the book: Rodin’s The Thinker, looming over a carrot that is dangling on a fishhook from a line. Reminds me of Joe Martocchio’s book on compensation – the cover is a cartoon of a boss waving a dollar bill like flapping out a towel – the dollar bill is stretchy and twisted, and on the other end of it, a worker is trying to grab it.

The idea being incentives, I guess. Incentives and motivation, and it’s supposed to be a joke of some sort.

My book is more like a textbook, heavily structured as if for an online class with the same sections repeating in each chapter. It also cost nearly $100. No comment on that.

Descending into an intense work period before the grandchildren get here next Friday. We’re writing an article about City College of San Francisco for the Bayview, a SF community newspaper, urging people to enroll, especially in ethnic studies classes, because one consequence of the attacks on CCSF (I’m tempted to call it rape) by the ACCJC (Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges) which has been going on since 2012 is an awful drop in enrollment, from 100,000 students to 66,000, which means a loss of state funding, producing a downward spiral with classes getting cut and people getting laid off. It’s hitting ethnic studies programs especially hard. That’s due today. Then two Steward Update articles and we’re clear.

When the kids come it will be all swimming, kicking balls around, piling up rocks in the river, and cooking and eating.

Today, however is Jamaica Old Home Day, which means that there will be a parade, a barbecue, a ducky race (yellow plastic duckies, each with a number, dumped off one bridge and racing to the next bridge; you buy one and if your number wins, you get something) and a market, with music. Last summer I noted that there was zero commercial participation in this annual event – no booths sponsored by chains of any sort, no food that wasn’t cooked by someone we know, right there in front of us. Also, no one from further than a few miles away either in the parade or watching it – except state legislative representative Ollie Olsen, who lives in Londonderry up Route 30, and rode on a fire truck, I think.

Tonight we Skyped with Jan Sunoo who has been a federal mediator and worked in Vietnam and taught there. His advice: we are advocates for workers, not mediators between workers and management, not cheerleader for production. Frame the class as that, asking students to adopt the perspective of workers, if only for the class. That’s one of the class assignments. He suggests 20 minute lectures, short sentences that are easy to translate, followed by something students can discuss in groups and report on. He says they are very good at working in groups. His wife Brenda, who wrote the book about the women divers in South Korea, said that getting students to participate actively in discussions and not hesitate to comment, question and discuss will be one of our challenges. Students hesitate to ask questions because they fear that it will indicate lack of respect for the teacher – it will imply that the teacher did not present something completely. She noted that merely asking a question is one step in a whole ladder of dialogue activities: thinking critically, challenging, proposing alternative perspectives. Dialoging as we know it is something we will have to teach explicitly.

This makes me think of the four critical thinking questions that in the US we want students to ask all the time: Is it accurate? Is it consistent? Is it complete? Is it true (or good)?

I think that a lot of stuff from my book will come into play in this class. I’m glad I sent Vinh the pdf, but I haven’t heard anything from her about it.

Published by helenaworthen

Labor educator, retired from University of Illinois, taught at TDT University in Ho Chi Minh City in the Faculty of Trade Unions and Labor Relations. Co-author with Joe Berry of Power Despite Precarity: Strategies for the contingent faculty movement in higher education, forthcoming (August 2021) from Pluto Press.

2 thoughts on “Getting Ready 24

  1. I’m enjoying your blog. Thanks.

    BTW, stick around for Tet. It’s pretty fun and interesting in VN. Start making travel and hotel arrangements now, though! It’s really hard later on, as the whole country moves around then, people going home, etc.

    1. We should take your advice because you’re the really experienced traveller! I enjoyed your Facebook entries about Peru, complete with all the details including when you needed to stay in the hotel and sleep, so thanks for those.

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