Vietnam’s culture sparks discussion
As a part of the Norman Levan Colloquium, Jeannie Parent shared with fellow Bakersfield College teachers, staff and adminstrators, her study of the Vietnamese culture on March 9.
The Norman Levan Colloquium was established in 2005 after BC Professor Mike McNellis asked Levan for a grant.
Since then, around every semester, professors share their study in a specific subject. As a part of the Colloquium, the professors are also awarded $1,000 in order to further their studies.
According to Susan Pinza, the chair of the Colloquium’s steering committee, Parent was picked because of her subject’s relevance to the community.
“We thought her topic would be of interest to the BC faculty. She does tie in what she does to the classroom, and so we were able to learn a little about methodology and pedagogy.”
Parent’s presentation focused on her time spent in Vietnam as a part of The Fullbright Group Project Abroad, in which she learned about the culture of Vietnam.
She learned of the culture by doing everyday things like eating the food and looking at art. But she also learned from interviews she conducted with many people from many different areas of Vietnamese life, from young artists to monks.
She also heard many different speeches from different areas of academia in Vietnam.
“It was very enriching. It was different than going as a tourist. It was much more educational because it was a study,” she said.
Parent’s inspiration to study Vietnamese culture goes back to when she taught Vietnamese refugees in the ’80s. She was inspired by the quality of its people.
“It was so difficult for them and yet the resilience, the persistence and the humility was so inspiring to me. They were so appreciative.”
This led to a lifetime appreciation of Vietnamese and Asian culture for Parent.
“Somehow, I have a connection. I’ve been to Nepal, China, Thailand. I think the humility of the people [is why I have a connection.] I feel that humility is really important in a person. Less ego is better.”
She took her experience from her time in Vietnam and created a three-week project for her listening and speaking class where students interview their parents to learn about their own culture. Parent believes that her students learn about themselves and others through the project.
“We’ll have 12 to 14 different cultures in the class, so this is one way to expose them to different cultures. But in their own interview process they actually learn about their own cultures and it often brings them closer to their own family and friends.”
Parent has, with others, started a nonprofit called South East Asian School Project or SEASP. Its goal is to provide education for Cambodian children that do not get education.
After she connected with the children in Cambodia, she learned that many do not have an education and are orphans, so her and a roommate decided to do something about it.
“My roommate and I really wanted to do something for them, so she and I and others started a nonprofit. We just did it.”
The nonprofit group has already helped some of the children of Cambodia.
“We were able to collect some donations and some supplies, but we had to delivery it personally because of the corruption.”