Mark A. Ashwill During my first trip to Vietnam in January 1996 to set up a summer program for U.S. students, I caught a glimpse of what could be a rapidly changing nation just opening up to world after decades of isolation and poverty, mostly the result of a U.S.-led economic embargo and the legacy of two cataclysmic wars with France and the U.S. following in the former’s bloody and foolhardy footsteps. What I knew about Vietnam at the time came mostly from history books and a few Vietnamese students studying in the U.S. in the “early days.” Even though it was one of the poorest countries in the world then with a per capita income of just over $300 per year, I saw deep reservoirs of energy, spontaneity and ingenuity. I sensed a driving ambition and an ocean of untapped potential. Vietnam was a country that had survived the worst that two world powers had thrown at it and held its collective head high, ready, willing, and eager to forge ahead into a glowing future. It was an inspirational and electric place where necessity was truly the mother of invention. That was a time when the historic renovation reforms… Read full this story
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