FROM ENEMIES TO FRIENDS: THE IMPROVEMENT OF U.S.-VIETNAM RELATIONS THROUGH EDUCATIONAL EXCHANGES, 1992-2013
Robbins, Elizabeth Mary Ruth
This thesis aims to show that U.S.-Vietnam higher education exchanges aided in the transformation of their bilateral relationship, from enemies engaged in war to friends working closely together in 2013 in trade, security and development. The scope covers a twenty-year period between 1993 and 2013 while its content covers a socio-cultural aspect of the bilateral relationship. The organization is in five parts. Chapter 1, "Introduction: Background Information to 1995 - Vietnamese Higher Education, U.S.-Vietnam Tensions, and Bilateral Educational Exchanges," sets the stage for the rest of the thesis by giving relevant background information. Chapter 2, "Developments in U.S.-Vietnam Education Exchanges during the William J. Clinton Administration, 1993-2000," highlights reforms in Vietnamese higher education, the establishment of exchange programs, institutional partnerships between U.S. and Vietnamese universities, and the strengthening of bilateral ties during these years. Chapter 3, "Changes and Further Developments in U.S.-Vietnam Education Exchanges during the George W. Bush Administration, 2001-2008," traces more recent reforms in Vietnamese higher education, the bourgeoning bilateral exchange programs and institutional partnerships, and an increase in economic, diplomatic and defense ties under President Bush. Chapter 4, "The Continuation of U.S.-Vietnamese Exchanges and Partnerships under President Barack H. Obama, 2009-Present," examines progress during recent years, noting continued Vietnamese higher education reforms, the accomplishments of the exchange programs, the persistent trend of institutional partnerships, and the strong and collaborative nature of bilateral ties. Chapter 5, "Conclusion: U.S.-Vietnamese Educational Exchanges - Motivations, Challenges, Successes, and Prospects for the Future," stresses the motives behind exchanges, the challenges to reform in Vietnamese higher education, and the successes of the exchanges that have transformed the U.S.-Vietnam bilateral relationship by fostering collaboration among their students, industry and military leaders, and diplomats. Regarding prospects for the future, these depend on five main variables in both countries: leadership, economic ties, political-security cooperation, effective reforms in Vietnam's higher education system, and continued willingness of Vietnamese and American students to learn from each other. Thus, there is great potential for the continued success of U.S.-Vietnam educational exchanges, which, in turn, will eventually reform higher education in Vietnam, as well as foster more cordial relations between the two nations.
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