Tag Archives: Hanoi

SWOT/Recruitment Workshop

Introducing the workshop.

Introducing the workshop.


Last week my colleague Ashley Laracy and I gave a Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats (SWOT) workshop at Bac Thang Long college in Hanoi. We compared some of the findings another volunteer did in 2013 with the findings of my recent stakeholder interviews. For the past few weeks I’ve been speaking with deans, teachers, students, alumni and enterprise partners to find out how they view the college. I’ll be using this info to polish up the website and also for promotional purpuses. Bac Thang Long college is quite concerned right now about enrollment. There has been a recent government change in courses at colleges. Previously, people who failed the university entrance exams could take a one-year college course and then transfer into university. No longer. Now students have to complete a 2-year college course or simply work for three years before they can retry their university exams. This means Bac Thang Long is going to lose about 30 per cent of its enrollment since people will like just opt for working and saving up money before they try again.
As an outside observer I know there are many layers to the problemic onion which I am not party to. However, I was able to share what I found with the teachers and other staff at the workshop.
Here’s a little summary of my findings from teachers/students and alumni:
GENERAL STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
STRENGTHS
• Location
• Class schedules for workers.
• Regular pedagogy upgrading from international partner WUSC.
• Open, enthusiastic teachers.
• Practical experience for students (Guest experts, field trips, internships).
• Student services, financial assistance, career counseling, job placement.
• Partnerships with enterprises – internships/job placements.
• Teacher/student ratio.
• Courses tailored to needs of enterprise partners.
• Infrastructure – library access, access to computers/equipment.
• Website.
• 3-year training for middle school graduates.
• Extra-curricular activities (dancing, soccer).
• College/teachers stay connected to alumni.

WEAKNESSES
• No foreign language capacity training.
• Soft skill training needs expanding.
• Due to govt changes transfer program now obsolete.
• Not enough majors for middle-school student program.
• Criteria of BTL does not match criteria of partner (bank).
• Limited technology and equipment.
• Not up to date on some technology needs of enterprises.
• Some courses need to be more specialized (supermarkets)

Here’s what the enterprise partners said:
STRENGTHS
• A large pool of students that partner can profit from (bank).
• BTL events provide exposure for partner products (bank).
• BTL provides opportunity for partner to build goodwill in community (bank-scholarships).
• BTL provides opportunity to tap volunteer labour.
• Grads are large labour pool for Thang Long Park and 32 other parks (1,000 enterprises).
• Guest lectures from enterprise staff that prepare students for reality of workplace.
• Hard working, enthusiastic, disciplined students.
• Quick respond to suggestions for new, or improved, courses. Stays current with changes in the field (supermarkets).
• College staff stay connected with enterprises, post positions regularly.
• More loyalty with grad hires vs university grads.

WEAKNESSES

• School relies on enterprises to provide equipment, this causes worry for enterprises and slows them down.
• BTL does not stay up to date on emerging needs of some enterprises. For instance electronics manufacturers and the making of touch screens.
• Cannot adapt to change in electronics field quickly.
• Students need more communication skills, especially those with local accents (call centre).

Coming up with solutions.

Coming up with solutions.

SWOTActivity3

The participants then came up with their own solutions and wrote them on a flip chart which is currently being translated. I’ll share those findings when I get them. Not sure the goal was really understood, so we’ll see what they came up with.
SWOTIntro

My post on Hoa Sua Resturant for Innovate Development

Lovely exterior of the Hoa Sua Restaurant in Truc Bach.

Lovely exterior of the Hoa Sua Restaurant in Truc Bach.

A wonderful spot just around the corner from where I live. I wrote about it for the Innovate Develoment website. Check it out!

Hanoi: What I Love

I’ve been here a month now and have had a chance to experience some of the culture, meet new friends and try the delicious food.

THINGS I LOVE

Ladies load up their bikes with the most beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers.

Ladies load up their bikes with the most beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers.


1) Fresh flowers!
2) Pop-up markets with fresh produce. There’s one at the end of my street every morning around 6 am.
The most amazing fresh produce every morning.

The most amazing fresh produce every morning.


3) Cheap transportation. My monthly unlimited bus pass is 200 VD or $10.
I take a bus daily to the college.

I take a bus daily to the college.


4) Caphe Sua Chua – rich coffee mixed with yogurt on ice. Yum!
Yogurt and coffee and ice. Better than a milkshake.

Yogurt and coffee and ice. Better than a milkshake.


5) Architecture – Ancient Asia, meets French colonial, meets modern.
Fantastic styles and colours.

Fantastic styles and colours.


6) Exercise – I walk around Truc Bach Lake early every morning and the streets are filled with people doing Tai Chi, line dancing or playing hacky sack.
Early morning Tai Chi.

Early morning Tai Chi.


7) Fruit: had a mangosteen to die for today. Also enjoying the dragon fruit and pommelos.
Fresh dragonfruit!

Fresh dragonfruit!


8) Afternoon naps – can’t do anything else in this heat!
9) Made in Vietnam clothing stores – these carry all the seconds from North American brands like Zara. Very, very cheap.MadeinVietnam
10) Clean ice for drinks. It is all made in a food industry complex. People buy it by the bag and even street vendors use it.
Getting ready for a cold drink with clean ice.

Getting ready for a cold drink with clean ice.

NOT SO MUCH
1) Congestion, never seen so many motorbikes. Very few traffic lights.

Yuck.

Yuck.


2) Garbage. Vietnamese just toss it by the roadside. On the the upside, many Vietnamese women (and some men) are hired to pick it all up. A make-work project?
Clean-up patrol.

Clean-up patrol.


3) Heat. Nuff said.
I wanna go here! Whale Island resort in Central Vietnam.

I wanna go here! Whale Island resort in Central Vietnam.

Truc Bach, My New ‘Hood

OnTrucBachBridge

I am slowly getting acclimatized to Hanoi (pop.6.5 million) and its unstoppable traffic. I’ve learned to keep walking slowly, listen to the honks and keep to the side of the road. Pedestrians are the lowest ones on the totem pole, so I know now not to get outraged when people on bikes, motorcycles and in cars come hurtling towards me. Survival tip: Keep moving and get out of the way.
Just off Yen Phu, a major and scary thoroughfare that I have to cross daily to catch the bus to work, is Truc Bach, my new home home. It is a wonderful little neighbourhood on tiny Truc Bach lake, a diked off portion of Tay Ho Lake.

Senator John McCain revisited Hanoi in 1985 and saw this memorial on Truc Bach Lake.

Senator John McCain revisited Hanoi in 1985 and saw this memorial on Truc Bach Lake.

I was a little shocked to learn this is where Senator John McCain landed when he was shot down during the Vietnam War (known here as the American War), in 1967.Here’s what I found out about it on Wikipedia – US Navy aviator John McCain was shot down by anti-aircraft missile on a mission against a Hanoi powerplant and parachuted wounded into Truc Bach Lake, nearly drowning. He was dragged out of the water and beaten by city residents who were angry at having seen the area laid to waste by previous US attacks. He was later taken away as a prisoner of war. There’s a monument celebrating his downing called Tchen Sney Ma Can on the western shore of the lake, which McCain saw on a trip to Vietnam in 1985. A lot has changed since his horrible experience. Most people here are under the age of 30 and don’t even know who he is. Plus, the area is now filled will posh hotels including the Sofitel, the Hanoi Club and the Sheraton. It’s a very desirable neighbourhood, especially a little north in an area called West Lake which is populated by expats.
FAST FACTS

They fish in Truc Bach, but it's very polluted.

They fish in Truc Bach, but it’s very polluted.


1) Truc Bach was separtated from Tay Ho by the construction of a dike in the 17th century, allowing inhabitants to fish. Today I saw a ton of dead fish floating around in the water. It is extremely polluted. Don’t know what these fish died of, but there are still lots of fishermen and nets to be seen. Would never eat anything caught here.
2) In the 1700s, Truc Lam Palace was constructed on the lake shore. It first served as a pleasure palace but was later converted in to a prison for royal concubines found guilty of crime. The silk they produced became known as ‘Bamboo Village’ Silk and was famous for its beauty. At the time, the area was known also for its crafters of bamboo blinds. Haven’t seen this palace prison, but will ask about it.
3) Apparently there’s a shrine to a hero from the war against the Chinese (Yuan Dynasty) on my street. Must look for it.

Hanoi: 10 Observations So Far

Mr. Chipper in the morning.

Mr. Chipper in the morning.


Having survived my first week in Vietnam, and finally able to walk outside without being overwhelmed, here are a few initial observations…
1) GOOD MORNING VIETNAM…my 5 am wake-up call comes from a neighbour’s rooster. No need to hit the snooze button. A 6 am gong comes from the nearby pagoda. I won’t be late for work!
2) This is a city of youth. Sixty per cent of the population is under 30.
3) Even the tourists are primarily young. The old quarter, where I’m staying is overrun with backpackers.
Young 'uns love this town.

Young ‘uns love this town.


4) Motorscooters rule. The streets are filled with them, like a fast-moving river. They don’t stop for anything, certainly not a red light.
Good grief!

Good grief!


5) Air freshener observed in a taxi – a fresh pineapple lodged in the cup holder. And it worked.
The sweet smell of pineapples!

The sweet smell of pineapples!


6) Downtown streets are laced with overhead cables. Some of which droop down. Don’t want to get hit by one of those things.
7) Beer is super cheap. I’ve found a place to get a 500 ml of Tiger beer for 16 dong, which is around 75 cents (smaller bottles are 50 cents).
Beer, beer, beer.

Beer, beer, beer.


8) Coffee is strong and sweet.
Delicious sweet iced coffee.

Delicious sweet iced coffee.


9) Nearby St. Joseph’s Catheral are many French cafes and outdoor spots that serve amazing croissants and pastries.
10) Plastic shoes are the way to go. When it rains it pours and the streets are awash. No avoiding getting your feet wet.
No keeping your feet dry.

No keeping your feet dry.


plasticshoes