I got an interesting email today. It was from a former student and friend in Việt Nam who is finishing up her Master’s degree in English at the University of Huê. She is also an English teacher at the College of Foreign Language. Though she was in a class I taught, I remember Ngoc mainly for shepherding me though the process of getting a Vietnamese driver’s license.
(Be sure to click on her picture - you will be able to see a larger photo.)
And Ngoc has a new assignment: create the curriculum for a new course titled “Issues in American Population and Economy.” She asked for some input and ideas for this new course.
So – I sent her an email. Some of the ideas I gave her (along with a few links I found through Google) included:
• The diversity of the American population. The Vietnamese have only a small minority of hill tribes who make up only 15% of the population, and they are seldom found in a city. That means Vietnamese only know other Kinh people. (Kinh are ethnic Vietnamese.) I pointed out that in many school districts in America, there are large numbers of students who don’t speak English as their native tongue. Where I live in deep south Texas, 85% of the population speaks Spanish as their primary language.
• I pointed out that America has a low birth rate, as many developed countries do, but that lately, the birthrate is picking up as more recent immigrants continue their traditional pattern of having large families.
• I encouraged her to look at past patterns of assimilation of immigrants into the American population. As an example, I pointed out Betty Nguyen, an anchor reporter for CNN, speaks no Vietnamese and looks more European than Asian primarily due to her makeup and clothing.
• On the economy, I asked her to have students examine the true nature of the American economy. Is it truly “capitalist”, or has it been modified a bit to protect the average person and the poor? It certainly isn’t socialist and it certainly is market-driven, but raw, unbridled capitalism does not exist in America.
• I urged Ngoc to examine what a “growth economy” really is. Besides the fact that such an economy is based on consumerism, are there good and bad aspects of a growth economy? Is the American economy a “growth economy?” Is the Vietnamese economy becoming a “growth economy?”
Okay – that seemed to be a good start, and I clicked the “Send” button. Then it occurred to me that some readers might be able to help Ngoc put together a curriculum. Okay folks – post your comments and let Ngoc know what your ideas would be for a course in issues of American population and the economy?
(Hint: The World Trade Organization recently admitted Việt Nam – is there something in there about the American economy?”)