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Current concise and "easy reading. A must have book for anyone interested in Vietnam or planning on travelling to Vietnam"


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Buy the book "Vietnam Today"

Vietnam Today: A Nation at a Crossroads.
Author: Mark Ashwill, with Thai Ngoc Diep
ISBN: 1-931930-09-0
Pages/Year: 208 pp, paper, 6x9, 2004
Publisher: Intercultural Press
Price: $22.95 + $5.95 ( priority mail and handling) = $28.9

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Vietnam is faced with pressing political social and economic problems but is full of promise and potential—“pulsating with energy and steeped in dreams.”

Research included interviews and surveys of Vietnamese professionals who have extensive experience with foreigners, and expatriates from numerous Western nations living and working in Vietnam.

A two-thousand-year history of foreign invasion, occupation, and war have deeply influenced the Vietnamese character. The Chinese, French, and U.S. Americans have all left their cultural thumbprints behind, but at the same time the struggle against those who would impose their will on Vietnam has infused in the Vietnamese people a fierce spirit of nationalism, ready to defend themselves if necessary and caution in their dealings with foreigners.

Ashwill paints a broad picture of Vietnam, past and present, in his early chapters, including geography, business environment, history, the curious mix of communism and capitalism, overseas Vietnamese, and much more. He then turns his attention to the defining issues and trends of today: economic reforms, corruption, education, male and female relationships, and regional differences.

The most prominent characteristics of the Vietnamese people, other than their energy and drive, are the importance of the group over the individual, indirect communication style, and the importance of maintaining harmony. This translates into relationship building as a prelude to doing business and consensus building as the preferred way of making decisions. Following a chapter on working with the Vietnamese, Ashwill turns the mirror on us as Westerners with impressions and reflections from Vietnamese who have worked with Westerners. This is valuable advice indeed. He concludes with a brief look at Vietnam in the twenty-first century, including some predictions about the shape and form of a nation undergoing rapid change and opening up to the world, and speculation about some of the possible implications of these changes for cross-cultural interaction.

Ashwill’s love of and respect for the Vietnamese people shine through every page, even when he takes on current problems in the country. He and Diep Ngoc Thai share a passionate desire to inform us about the sources of misunderstanding between Vietnam, the U.S., and other Western countries, then suggest ways these sizable gaps can be bridged. For Westerners who are prepared to take the time to get to know the Vietnamese, to move at their pace, and to learn about their culture and history, Vietnam can be a land of opportunity.

Mark A. Ashwill is director of the World Languages Program, Fulbright adviser, and adjunct professor at SUNY Buffalo. He is also founder and executive director of the U.S.-Indochina Educational Foundation, Inc. (USIEF) and consults with schools and nonprofit organizations. In 2003 Dr. Ashwill became the first U.S. citizen to be awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialists Grant to Vietnam.

Diep Ngoc Thai assisted Mark Ashwill in researching Vietnam Today. She received her B.A. in international business from the Hanoi Foreign Trade University and her M.A. in international business and world trade from SUNY Buffalo. Before studying in the U.S., she worked for the U.S.-Vietnam Trade Council in Hanoi and Ericcson, a Swedish manufacturer of consumer communications and data products. Ms. Thai is currently working for a private sector company in Hanoi.
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