Giang Pham seeks to expand collaborations with Vietnam

February 28, 2014

Dr. Giang Pham, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders, recently traveled to Vietnam to formalize international collaborations between the department and its peer institutions abroad. During her visit, she met with representatives from Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine, National College of Education, and University of Pedagogy in Ho Chi Minh City, and from the Hanoi National University of Education and Vietnam Institute of Educational Sciences in Hanoi.

Giang Pham (left) visits the Training and Development Center for Special Education at Hanoi National University of Education. Also pictured are Ben T Pham (center), Head of the Division in Hearing and Language Impairment in the Department of Special Education, and Thuy B Dao (right), Director of the Center.

Dr. Pham received funding for the trip through a $5,000 faculty internationalization grant awarded by the International Studies Council and the International Programs Office. The grant award and her subsequent travel, she explains, are part of the university’s initiative to promote globalization in the curriculum. Dr. Pham, who teaches the General Ed course Introduction to Communication Disorders, notes that the trip allowed her to build an international perspective into her course as well as to her graduate instruction on linguistically diverse populations.

Speech-language therapy remains a new field in Vietnam; special education and communication disabilities programs have only recently been introduced. Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine, for example, will establish the nation’s first bachelor’s degree program in speech-language therapy in Fall 2014. The university’s rector, one of that program’s key advocates, joined the delegation meeting with Dr. Pham.

Dr. Pham, who specializes in bilingual language development and has worked extensively with the Vietnamese-American communities in Springfield, had previously visited Vietnam as a guest lecturer and a volunteer aiding in the development of clinical programs. Her recent visit brought the prospect of more formal partnerships. One promising result – the Hanoi National University of Education has signed a memorandum of agreement with UMass Amherst, the first step in establishing an official collaboration between the two universities. It is the first such agreement between the university and any institution in Vietnam.

“Faculty members in Vietnam are interested in building their research capacity and are actively seeking to collaborate on an international level,” notes Dr. Pham. “There’s a strong emphasis and need for continuing professional development for their faculty, and they see a potential scholar exchange program as one way to strengthen those credentials.”

“It’s a very exciting time to work together,” adds Dr. Pham. “So much basic science still needs to be conducted, like noting language milestones and developing assessment tools.”

Her trip proved fruitful. Dr. Pham has written a grant proposal with her international colleagues to launch a new research project focused on Vietnamese language development and disorders. She also believes that her visit will increase awareness of her department’s graduate programs and encourage international candidates to apply.

“It was a remarkable visit,” concludes Dr. Pham. “It was so much more than I had anticipated. I think it’s the beginning of a great partnership.”