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Mr William Badger (left) and Econnomist Pham Chi Lan

What are the reasons you choose Vietnam as a second home?

In personally, since I was a very small child, I was interested in Asia so I always wanted to visit Asia. By chance or by fate, I had an opportunity to come to Vietnam in 1993 with my professor to study about Vietnam. So my relationship with Vietnam started in 1993 and immediately I really loved my experiences here.  After that trip, I decided to study Vietnamese and came back on my own in 1995. This time, I  liked it even more so decided to try moving here in 1997. I really enjoy the lifestyle and working here. I also enjoy learning about Vietnamese culture,  learning the language and seeing how society continues to involve.

In fact, Vietnam chose me. I didn't choose it because it worked out the trip that I could go on for my study was the Vietnam trip. As soon as I came here, I felt very comfortable and when I came the second time, I felt very at home. I knew inside myself that this was a place so I wanted to come back to find the answer. I came back Vietnam in 1997 for the third time and knew already that I liked Vietnam so much and I would try to live here. It's a good place to live and I have been fortuante to witness and be a part of the country’s transition – and, fast forward to today, I think Vietnam is better than ever.

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How do you think about the development of Vietnam-US relations after 25 years  normalisation?

The bilateral relationship has developed quickly since the normalization of ties. Trade increased more than 100 times in 2018 compared to 1995. In personal, I think this relationship is amazing to me. My generation has grown up through the Cold War and see a lot of things between Vietnam and the US. I had a chance to see President Obama speak in Hanoi and heard him quoting Nguyen Du in a speech. That was deeply moved for me and really an amazing moment. While it is easy to reminisce about the charms of the past, I would say that Vietnam is a much more dynamic place today than 30 years ago. With the CPTPP, the FTA with the EU, and the ASEAN trade agreement, Vietnam has done a very strategic job in setting up trade deals that give it access to most of the world. This bodes well for all of us who live and work here, and so the future looks bright.

Vietnam has made so much growth progress and so many positive changes. Right now with the Covid virus actually Vietnam's response has been among the best if not the best in the whole world and I'm cautiously optimistic that when the dust settles Vietnam will have earned a great reputation as a place to work, live and do business.

Concordia is one of the best international schools in Hanoi. What are the differences between Concordia and other international schools in Hanoi?

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There's a few important differences. First of all 100% US owned invested in operating school that is teaching a purely US  curriculum. We are also a non-profit school which means our stated goal as an organization and the way we will judge ourselves is sending kids to top universities in the US and around the world. Concordia’s teachers average 17 years in the classroom, 80% have advanced degrees (Masters or PhD) and 80% are from the US or Canada. So we are really bringing in world-class professional educators.

I think one of the most special things that Concordia’s doing is we have some Vietnamese students. We have 430 students from 20 countries but within that we have Vietnamese students and most of the students that are at Concordia are aiming at reaching the U.S for University. In fact, we are providing a pathway for Vietnamese students and students from around the world. We're living in Hanoi to get a world-class U.S. curriculum education and be able to reach top universities in the US.

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Moving into industry 4.0 for moving into the modern world with the rest of the world and top quality education with state-of-the-art facilities is an important part of that process getting the next generation of leaders. We are partner with Vietnam in that process. We have just been invited by the Ministry of Education to join the minister at a the Vietnam – US Education Forum at University of California in Irvine. That's a great honor for us, a great opportunity for us. And I do think it is a testament of the Ministry of Education and Training to recognition of what we are doing as a school.  We are a bridge between the Hanoi and the rest of the world.