The Social Work Education Enhancement Program staff and faculty members hosted 13 leaders from Vietnamese universities and organizations Oct. 11-18 for its second SWEEP Leadership Academy at San José State University.
Hang Nguyen, the president of the Association of Vocational Training and Social work, said she attended the Leadership Academy because her agency provides social work services.
Through a translator she talked about the importance of social work education in Vietnam.
Social Work Education Enhancement Program team members and guests from Vietnam conducted a telepresence meeting during the 2014 Leadership Academy, where current visitors spoke with those who attended last year’s Academy via video conference Oct. 15.
“It is a new profession in Vietnam,” she said. “Only in 2010 was social work established as an official profession.”
Before 2010, many of the services provided by social workers in the United States were only provided by charitable groups with no training.
“The results were not productive,” she said. “We are establishing that welfare is right and mental health services are right.”
The goal in Vietnam is to train 60,000 social workers by 2020 and the SWEEP program is helping universities to establish professional training programs.
SWEEP is an international consortium which includes USAID, SJSU, eight universities in Vietnam, government Ministries, Cisco Systems, Inc., and community agencies and stakeholders. The purpose of SWEEP is to assist eight universities in Vietnam with improving their undergraduate social work educational programs. The project, which is funded with a grant from USAID and support from CISCO through September, 2015, aims to improve:
- The administration of social work programs
- Faculty capabilities in teaching and research
- Social work curriculum, and
- Network communication among the universities through the use of improved technology
“Hopefully we will reduce the time needed to be professional,” Nguyen said.
She said one thing she had learned during the week is that in the United States there are clear expectations of responsibility for leadership and management.
“We need to connect with the government, with the community and with the universities,” she said. “We hope to provide more prevention and intervention services for child welfare.”
Alice Hines, the interim dean for the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, serves as the director for SWEEP. She welcomed the visitors to the Academy on Oct. 12 and dropped in on them throughout the week. Workshops and sessions throughout the week were hosted by the SJSU School of Social Work, the College of Business, the Center for Faculty Development and the SJSU Research Foundation.
Hines said one of the highlights of the week included a telepresence conference using CISCO technology that connected the group in California with those in Vietnam for a meeting that spanned time zones. It was 6 p.m. in California and 8 a.m. in Vietnam.
“It was like having everyone in the same room,” Hines said, noting that one person in Vietnam was stuck in traffic so he connected to the meeting via a cellphone in his car. “We were able to connect Fellows from our first Leadership Academy (in Fall 2013) with those from our second Leadership Academy to talk about lessons learned and progress made.”
Hoa Nguyen, a rector at Dalat University, said he joined the Leadership Academy because his background is not in Social Work, but he understands its importance.
Through a translator, he said the program had helped him understand that social workers can satisfy needs of people in the community.
“I really believe SWEEP is important to social education,” he said. “After the length of the program, I hope they continue to be supportive.”
He said he was impressed with the passion of the presenters and their knowledge of the topics covered.
“When I return to Vietnam, I am sure this will help increase the quality (of social work education) to a new level,” he said.
Phuoc Le, vice rector at the University of Social Science and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City, said the week had taught him the importance of training faculty.
“In our university we have a five-year strategic plan, but we haven’t paid enough attention to the resources we need to meet our goals,” he said, via translator.
He said he planned to set up meetings to determine what resources are needed to meet the goals as well as work with his university to establish a center for faculty training.
Many of travelers, including Le, said the trip to San Jose for the SWEEP Leadership Academy is their first visit to the United States.
“We see that Vietnamese people are able to live in harmony with Americans,” Le said. “I haven’t’ had a chance to engage with locals, but I see people are very friendly and pleasant.”
The group visited San Francisco, with a stop at the Golden Gate Bridge. Le said he appreciated the traditional architecture because he is an historian.
Nguyen said she enjoyed seeing the coast, but she was struck mostly by the infrastructure.
“The roads are so well paved,” she said. “I think of all the handicapped people in Vietnam and how much they would appreciate it. Our roads are not built with accommodations.”
All three visitors expressed their desire to share what they learned when they return to Vietnam.
“I will try to apply all the good things I’ve learned,” Nguyen said.
The SWEEP team includes:
Edward Cohen, co-director
Laurie Drabble, faculty lead, Social Work
Meekyung Han, faculty lead, Social Work
Soma Sen, faculty lead, Social Work
Debbie Faires, faculty lead, School of Information
Quyen Grant, project assistant
Tuan Tran, project coordinator (Vietnam)
Hoa Nguyen, project consultant (Vietnam)
Ngan Chu, project assistant (Vietnam)
Natasha Wright, student assistant, SJSU MSW student
Veronica Cavillo, student assistant, SJSU MSW student
To learn more about the Social Work Education Enhancement Program, including past events, visit http://sites.google.com/a/sjsu.edu/sweep/