Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam

Headmaster Percivial Chen is a proud Chinese born man who runs English language school during the cusp of the Vietnam War. In his refusal to accept his adopted country's turbulent times, his gamble becomes a life changer. Join From Left to Write on November 15 as we discuss the The Headmaster's Wager. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

What a pleasure to interview our International Student for this blog post. An Ho is our friend through the International Host Family program of the University of Kentucky. She is from Vietnam which Vincent Lam so vividly brought to life in his novel. An Ho studied first in Washington state and then came to Lexington, KY to finish her degree in Bio-chemistry.

One of the most interesting facts about An is that she is the niece of Major General Le Minh Dao, who fought for the People’s Army of Vietnam and famously defended Saigon in the last battle before it fell. Here is the Wikipedia link about him. 

I asked An the following questions:

Brenda: How do the Vietnamese people feel about the US now?

An: My perspective is from the point of view of Vietnamese students rather than Vietnamese people since my experiences in the U.S are as a student. Parents still want to send their children to study abroad, especially in the U.S, and students still think of studying abroad in the U.S as their first choice. Though recently the dramatic change in the economy may cause some doubts and fear, we still prefer to go to the U.S. In reality, there is still no country that has overcome the U.S. To me, as I have studied in the U.S, my strength and my wealth have been increased, I so hope that the country can still keep its best ranking/position over the world.

Brenda : How do you feel about being away from home? 

An: There are some conflicting feelings and thoughts when I live far way from home. Profoundly, there is nothing that can take the place of my home; it is always in my heart. However, to adapt and live well with the current environment, I have to avoid my thoughts of home—let it become my past with many beautiful memories. I keep my life moving on with the present and toward to the future. In order to do that, I just think that there are in life many things that I should take advantage to learn. I should keep a positive attitude and an open mind to welcome new things to happen. Yet occasionally, I cry due to my homesick emotion. But certainly, I'm also cheerful for what I conquer and achieve in this world.

Brenda: Is the US different from what you thought it would be before you came here?

An: Of course it is a different since dreams vary from experiences. My experiences are focused more on study. When I was in my country and decided to study in the U.S, I believed that the U.S education was the best over the world, in terms of offering high knowledge and expectations.

However, when I first came here, I found that not many students could do math well in US colleges. Also not many people had high expectations in their studies and attempts to pursue higher degrees. For instance, when I took a sociology course in my old community college, I posted in the online discussion that I love to study and consider it a chance to push me to a higher position in society. But one my classmate replied that my thinking was old. I may have some bias, but I see people in the U.S tend to enjoy their lives with their temporary present. Many young adults just want to find jobs and earn money. Until they get older, or the economy is
 gone down and they cannot qualify for their jobs, they go back to school to study.

Despite these aspects, in my opinion, the U.S education still has some values. In my experience, I think the term "the best U.S education" should be recognized by the way of its training people to develop critical thinking, approach and solve problems. Knowledge is made to become approachable and applicable. It is built up on a hierarchy from basic to advance, which students can back up and retrieve their knowledge, in case they get lost. Generally, as long as we wish to study, we can study. To me, these are some strong points that can label the U.S as "the best country with offering challenges and chances". Indeed, the U.S education has changed my mind and contributed to my belief and confidence that I can study, research, discover new concepts, and apply them to reality.