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Forum for Creativity #11

ENG-4-MBA Week-11 Translation Assignment

Deadline for submission: 10 days from date of reception.
Sample of translation available for your self-study. View HERE.

Note #11. Back to Square One, A New Turning Point – Coming Home, A Very Special Day by Anita H.,
posted on her profile on LinkedIn: sg.linkedin.com/pub/anita-hoang/86/b1b/b39/

 

Dear LinkedIN friends,

I sincerely believe that the character of a child is built since his young days in the family. I think Vietnamese people rarely have psychical problems because they always “reset” from the shock of external inputs by the presence of family members or friends around them. At least, that was what I got from my personal experience. Here is a short note I wrote about family in 2013, during my trip to Dalat, my hometown.

QUOTE

BTSO – A Very Special Day

During the last 9 months, I had the opportunity to come back to my home country and carry out my dearest dream: sharing my good fortune to my countrymen who are less fortunate.

I had a vague idea on sharing at the beginning of my journey back home. In my Buddhist upbringing, and as a Confucian girl, we were taught about compassion since our childhood days. Having to share everything we have got to our brothers and sisters, then to our extended families – close relatives and in-laws – and also neighbours and friends. My parents used to let our guest who come from far away to share their bed, my father would sleep with the male guest, and my mother with the female guest, as so did we as children. As my home is in Dalat, a beautiful town with very mild climate, we used to have guests all year round to visit the city, and spend summer with us, sometimes up to 3 months, some of them even come on a yearly visit.

It was natural that when those guests come from far away, they would bring some gifts to us, for example, fruits from their garden, or things they manufacture. My auntie, who lived in Bao Loc, and had a tea plantation and an orchard, would bring a jack fruit that weighed about 8 to 10 kg, or dozens of avocado fruits, or huge bags of tea. In return, we would welcome them to stay sometimes for several weeks, with free lodging and meals. As the eldest girl in the family, my role was to guide them around town, showing the beautiful sightseeing spots, taking them to the market, and sometimes accompanying them to their school or jobs. My younger sister’s role would be to take care of all chores which a boy would do, such as riding them around on her motorbikes, climbing trees to pick up fruits from our garden, slaughtering the chicken for our dinners, or even checking out for all security matters such locking all doors at night, taking care of bringing the candle light when there is a black-out, or running to warn my parents at their shop downtown in case of emergencies, as there was no telephone nor taxis. My other younger sister would take care of all domestic matters: cleaning, dishwashing and any other chores at home.

My parents used to come home quite late after their official job, and tending the shop after office hours, and although we used to have maids at home, these girls would leave the house in the evening to meet their boyfriends in secret, and left us home alone. As the eldest sister, I had to make sure that my sisters go to bed early and sing lullabies to them, and invented some kind of games such as playing as radio-speakerine or paraphrasing my teachers at school. Later, with the war escalating, finding maids from the countryside became difficult, so the household was reduced to a few apprentices who came to learn my parents business and would act as playmates to us. Slowly my parents reduced furthermore these playmates, and it seemed to me that by the end of the war, we were left to do the chores ourselves. Nevertheless, my childhood memories were filled with activities in the company of my playmates and maids.

Apart from my immediate entourage, we used to have other playmates with my neighbours’ children and also my cousins, borne by my auntie, my mother’s younger sister.

It is quite funny how two sisters would develop in two different directions, although born from the same parents. My mother, who was educated in Hué’s best girl school – Dong Khanh – received a French education and a very strict Confucian education. She passed on her interest in education to me and my siblings. The result was that all five of us – my brother who is three years older than me, my three sisters respectively two, three and ten years younger than me – we all came out as graduates from foreign private schools, which are the best education we could get.

My auntie, having spent her childhood days in the plantation in the company of her mother – the second wife of my grand-father – ended up having a very acute sense of commerce, and did not finish her schooling by the end of the war. Unlike my mother, who practiced family planning very smartly and successfully, and thus only got five children – which is the average size of a normal Vietnamese family – my auntie also practiced various family planning methods, but she ended up with 14 children, instead of five. I recalled their conversation – between my mother and her – every time that she missed out one planning, and the way she nick-named her children – the first ones got called by the names they are known at school, but from the 6 child onwards, the nickname showed her intention of stopping her child-bearing process, so the first one was named little baby girl (bé), then came another baby girl, also another “bé”, so the first one became “BIG Bé”, then the second, “SMALL Bé”, but then another baby girl came out, so the series of nicknames continued with “Na”, “Ni”, and “No” etc…

I recalled my pleasure while on visit at their place. These cousins were about 10-15 years younger than me, and were equally big in size, with the typical split-eyed features which was characteristic of my uncle-in-law family. On my side, which is the side of my mother, we all have round or almond-shaped with double-lid eyes, although we do inherit the big “peasant” feet of my father’s line, but in general, we have the “standard” look of Vietnamese children, whereas my cousins all have some kind of “Chinese-looking” features with their split eyes. But as children, they looked very cute, with their red cheeks and big smiles.

I loved to sit and looked at them playing together. It was kind of relaxing entertainment for me. What struck me was their sense of solidarity, as their standard of living did not allow them to have a nanny for each of the child, so the bigger sister became the nanny of the next one, and in turn the younger ones took care of even younger ones. When my auntie died at age 53 – just like her mother did – she left 14 orphans in the hands of the father who was a bus chauffeur between two cities. So you can imagine how hard life must have been for the poor children. Luckily, his mother was a very caring grandmother, so she took care of the whole family but the responsibility of earning money was given to the elder children, among whom was the 6 child (the famous “BIG Bé”) who now is the mother of my two nieces.

Coming back to Dalat, my hometown, some 40 years later, I do not find much change as when I left it at age 18. I had vaguely in mind that I should bring some kind of help to my auntie’s family, but was not sure HOW. After my lightning visit in June, following which my niece came to join me at the MBA class, I understood that the best way to help them is to help this girl succeed, as she, in turn, would be bringing help to her own mother, and also her sister, which I just got acquainted some days ago.

*****

To my surprise, both girls are extremely well raised to be a perfect wife, just as I used to be when I was a teen. Both of them took very good care of the household, although small and poor, but neat and clean. My cousin, who left school at age 16 to take care of her ten younger siblings, had been doing multiple jobs, from raising chicken and pigs – without much success – to cooking and tending to the small shop to make ends meet. She used to wake up at 3.00 a.m to prepare the meals that she was selling at her shop and spent most of her last pennies to make ends meet besides the meager salary which her husband brought home, if he ever did.

Although the official school fees are very low, about two US Dollars a month, all children were encouraged by their teachers to take up private tuition which were actually the REAL school programme. So children by age eighteen, preparing their final high school exams, would spend their whole days schooling, first at the official school, then by their private tutor’s house. They normally come home late by eight p.m or so, and had no time to play outside their school hours.

Entering university is the biggest challenge to any parent who wishes that their children pursue a higher education. Entrance examination only allows the best top 10 ten per cent, but with the ongoing practice of corruption, the chance of getting in these public universities are slim. So most parents spend their time bringing children to school on their motorcycles, wait for them to transfer to the private tuition classes at many places, then bring them home to sit with them for their homework, then they would bring them to extra English classes at night, or sometimes at weekends. Parenting is really tough, and on top of that one parent must make sure to get enough money to pay for the extra tuition fees.

Just as most parents dreams, my cousin’s wish is that both children get a good education and get out of misery by that way rather than arrange for a good marriage as in old days. But dreams are not realities, and the realities which I witness tell me a different story.

Visiting my other cousins’ household, I learned some other developments which are more common in Vietnam nowadays.

Most of my cousins have accepted the new life in a little town like Dalat, with not much perspective for development. However, with the economy picking up during the last 15 years, they have all managed to get a small business going, and some even managed to get beautiful houses for their family. I was surprised to be invited to one of my cousin – the “LITTLE Bé” – who has now become a mid-forty successful business woman. Her house looks like a palace, and I felt a real complex of inferiority when I compared with my 30-year overseas experience. The little “Na”, has now become a bank expert in housing loan, and is non-stop on her phone on deals. Even the youngest “Ni” is now also a Branch Manager, and manages both her business and her household very well, sending her children to English evening classes and driving her car around, which is still a sign of luxury in this very small town.

Being a special guest everywhere, with all my cousins rushing to welcome me home, I felt a lot of warmth looking at how a big family can hold hands together during tough years, to go through the upheavals of life. Hand-in-hand, they have been helping each other, the bigger ones guiding the small ones through the necessary steps up the social ladder.

*****

The improvised lunch which I had 2 days ago taught me a lesson. My grand-auntie, now 98 years old, whose eyesight has declined a lot with age, but who still keep a very sharp mind, proudly took me to visit her 13 grand-daughter brand new house. Most of all, she proudly showed me the bathroom, with a lot of space, for showers and washbasin. Born in 1912, she would have never thought that with her only child – my uncle-in-law, who is now 75 years old – would generate a big family with nine out of the fourteen grandchildren borne by my auntie, and that these, in turn, by their marriage, would bring in five sons-in-law, two daughters-in-law, eighteen grand-children, two great-grand-children and a multitude of cousins and extended families who keep her days filled with laughter and happiness. What an achievement for a lifetime. She told me: “My principle in life, is that I NEVER owe anybody ONE CENT, and my greatest achievement in life is to see my family grow and be together.”

I begin to have THAT sense of family being among my cousins. For the first time of my life, I feel like COMING HOME…to a NEW FAMILY, MY GREATER FAMILY.

Dalat, 2013 New Year’s Eve

END OF QUOTE

 

Conclusion :

I love to read the Dalai Lama teachings. Here is one of them: “Human affection is the foundation of proper development”.

 

Thank you for your attention, and till next time,

Anita H.

You can join Anita H. on LinkedIN. See her profile. sg.linkedin.com/pub/anita-hoang/86/b1b/b39/

Forum for Creativity #10

ENG-4-MBA Week-10 Translation Assignment

Deadline for submission: 10 days from date of reception.
Sample of translation available for your self-study. View HERE.

Note #10. Back to Square One, A New Turning Point – Perception, by Anita H.,
posted on her profile on LinkedIn: sg.linkedin.com/pub/anita-hoang/86/b1b/b39/

 

Dear LinkedIN friends,

In my posting on September 1, I mentioned Krisnamurti’s viewpoint on addressing the problems of the world by starting to understand ourselves. For Krisnamurti, the process of understanding ourselves is not an isolated process, because we are the world and our problems are the world’s problems.

The question I asked myself was :

“Could it be a good start to address the problem of self-knowledge in order to understand the problems of the World, and by solving our own problem, each of us can help to hold the World’s problems under control? “

Another Buddhist author, Ven Thich Toan Chau, in his writings on “Analyzing the Causes and Effects of Life” said:

Original text in Vietnamese:

Nhận thức đổi thay thì định hướng đời sống cũng theo đó mà đổi thay.
Phật học gọi đó là CHUYỂN.
Muốn chuyển đời sống, phải chuyển nghiệp;
Muốn chuyển nghiệp, phải chuyển tri kiến hay nhận thức,
Hay khai sáng tri kiến là điều cần thiết nhất của sự chuyển hóa đời sống.

English Translation (proposed by me)

Changing your perception will change your orientation in life. 

In Buddhism, this process is called CHANGE or TRANSFORMATION;
To transform your life, you have to change your karma/kamma;
To change your karma, you have to change your knowledge or perception.
Enlightening your knowledge is the most important thing to do in order to change your life orientation.

As I understand it: the most important thing to do in order to change your life is to enlighten your knowledge or perception of the world, and to do so, the first step is to open your mind to analyse and meditate on the causal relation of your deeds.

Under http://dictionary.com, the definition of “perception” which origin comes from Middle English ‘percepcioun’, Old French ‘percepcïon’, and Latin ‘perception’ reads:

noun

  1. the act or faculty of perceiving, or apprehending by means of thesenses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.
  2. immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation, as of moral,psychological, or aesthetic qualities; insight; intuition; discernment:

an artist of rare perception.

  1. the result or product of perceiving, as distinguished from the act ofperceiving; percept.
  2. Psychology. a single unified awareness derived from sensory processeswhile a stimulus is present.
  3. Law. the taking into possession of rents, crops, profits, etc.

 

Merriam-Webster dictionary reads:

per·cep·tion noun\pər-ˈsep-shən\

  1. the way you think about or understand someone or something
  2. the ability to understand or notice something easily
  3. the way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses

The Concise Encyclopedia defines perception as the

Process of registering sensory stimuli as meaningful experience. The differences between sensation and perception have varied according to how the terms are defined. A common distinction is that sensations are simple sensory experiences, while percepts are complex constructions of simple elements joined through association. Another is that perception is more subject to the influence of learning. Though hearing, smell, touch, and taste perceptions have all been explored, vision has received the most attention. Structuralist researchers such as Edward Bradford Titchener focused on the constituent elements of visual perceptions, whereas Gestalt psychology has stressed the need to examine organized wholes, believing humans are disposed to identifying patterns. Visual objects tend to appear stable despite continually changing stimulus features (such as ambient light, perspective, ground vs. figure arrangement), which enables an observer to match a perceived object with the object as it is understood to exist. Perceptions may be influenced by expectations, needs, unconscious ideas, values, and conflicts.

As for research on this notion, my search on google indicate about 27’600’000 results. I am picking up a few which are, in my view, related to what is needed on the buddhist point of view:

  • The first one is an article by Victoria Lysenko, a research professor at the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, entitled “What is immediate perception? the Buddhist Answer” mentioned Professor Laurence BonJour’s statement in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Fall 2001):

The notion of ‘perception’ requires 2 criteria:

The first one appeals to the idea of inference: something is immediately experienced or is given if the cognitive consciousness of it is not arrived at via any sort of inferential process. The second appeals to the idea of certainty: something is immediately experienced or given if the awareness of it is certain, incapable of being mistaken

  • Another article worth exploring is the “Classical Indian Philosophy’s Perceptual Experience and Concept” published on Dec 2, 2010 on Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy website. It reads:

“Classical Indian Philosophy accepts perception (pratyaka), or perceptual experience, as the primary means of knowledge (pramāa). Perception (pratyaka) is etymologically rooted in the sense-faculty or the sense-organ (aka) and can be translated as sensory awareness, whilepramāa, on the other hand, is derived from knowledge (pramā) and, literally means ‘the instrument in the act of knowing’. However, the standard interpretation of perception accepted by classical Indian philosophers, barring the Buddhists and the Vedāntins, is that it is a cognition arising within the self—the knowing subject—from mental operations following a sense-object contact. It, therefore, is neither an instrument in the act of knowing, nor a mere sensory awareness.

END OF QUOTE

Conclusion:

My last few years have been busy with the studies of Buddhist Psychology with Vietnamese thinkers. I have come across the teachings of Ven. Thich Tu Thong on “Duy Thức Học Yếu Luận” in audiobooks form. here is the link for those interested.

You may find also the teachings in pdf format for free download under

 

Have a nice day,

Anita H.

You may find Anita H. on her LinkedIn profile: sg.linkedin.com/pub/anita-hoang/86/b1b/b39/

Forum for Creativity #9

ENG-4-MBA Week-9 Translation Assignment

Deadline for submission: 10 days from date of reception.
Sample of translation available for your self-study. View HERE.

Note #9. Back to Square One, A New Turning Point – Communicating across cultures by Anita H.,
posted on her profile on LinkedIn: sg.linkedin.com/pub/anita-hoang/86/b1b/b39/

 

Dear LinkedIN friends,

My few postings of the past 10 days have earned me a few comments and some more friends, an encouraging sign, given the insignificance of my stories as compared to the burning issues that are challenging our everyday life. Nonetheless, I believe that if each of us do our duty, and by our small action, help to reduce the sufferings of the World, then we would have contributed to make a better world.

To address the questions that were sent to me from my new-found friends, on what are the foundations of my Buddhist beliefs, and another one on the importance of intercultural communications, I would like to quote a short answer I wrote spontaneously on a forum on the Transformative Power of Intercultural Experiences as below:

QUOTE

Sharing on my personal intercultural experience: As a Vietnamese growing up in war torn South Vietnam, I benefit from both French and American cultures in my younger years. After the fall of Saigon (or the “liberation” of South Vietnam), I was among the 800 successful candidates among the 43’000 who sat for entrance examinations to various universities of the newly unified Vietnam. Upon graduation, I worked as a professional translator and interpreter in 5 languages, among which Russian and German. Later on, I also acquired Swiss German and Norwegian in my set of languages as translator. With this background, I had experienced a lot of scenario where cross-cultural communication plays a very important role, even within the same ethnic group, sharing the same beliefs, speaking the same language. In my studies of Buddhism, I learned that we are shaped by the perceptions that we have of the world through inputs we receive from our immediate entourage and senses, and the way to consciously neutralize negative thoughts and build up positive thought, through the process of meditation. I am still working on this and find that it helps a lot to develop compassion to understand the “other” while you are communicating with them. From my readings on Vietnam war stories, I also noticed that a lot of destruction and losses of life could have been spared if both sides had been given the opportunities to understand the opponent’s position. For me, understanding others’ culture start with an open mind to accept that there can be many solutions to problem-solving, and nobody can be holding the absolute truth. If we learn how to listen actively, we may find a solution of resolving a conflict without having to use coercitive methods to impose our own thinking.” (May 2011)

END OF QUOTE

At that stage of my life by mid-2011, I was still optimistic about the prospects of a just and fair world and that conflicts could be solved through negotiations and mutual consensus . Since then, having been more actively connected through the internet and learning more on the actual state of the World, I think that understanding other people’s culture alone is not enough, but in addition, we should learn to understand how the world interests function and how to address the issues “in context”.

I realize that it is not only at my level, within my small sphere, but at all levels, no matter how big or small your job is, the challenges facing intercultural communication are overwhelming.

Before we understand what “inter-cultural” means, we need to define what is culture.

Professor Raymond Williams, in his book “Keywords, a vocabulary of culture and society” said that

QUOTE

Culture is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language […] mainly because it has now come to be used for important concepts in several distinct intellectual disciplines and in several distinct and incompatible systems of thought.”

In pages 87 to 93 of this book, after a short description of the evolution of this word in English literature, he also compared this evolution in the context of German and French, to conclude that nowadays, we can understand ‘culture’ by its widespread use as “music, literature, painting and sculpture, theater and film“.

He also cited, Kroeber and Kluckhohn, who in their study

Culture: a Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions” had mentioned the “difficulty in selecting one ‘true’ or ‘proper’ or ‘scientific’ sense of and dismissing other senses as loose or confused, and that within a discipline, conceptual usage had to be clarified. Thus in archaeology and in cultural anthropology the reference to culture or a culture is primarily to material production, while in history and cultural studies the reference is primarily to signifying or symbolic systems“.

He then added on that

the use of the word ‘culture’ in languages other than English, where there is considerable variation. For example, in the German, Scandinavian and Slavonic language groups, the anthropological use is common, whereas in Italian and French, the interpretation is more distinctly subordinate to the senses of art and learning. For him, between languages as within the language, the range and complexity of sense and reference indicate both difference of intellectual position and some blurring or overlapping. These variations […] involve alternative views of the activities, relationships and processes which this complex word indicates. The complexity, that is to say, is not finally in the word but in the problems which its variations of use significantly indicate.”

In short, he explained the

hostility in the usage of the word ‘culture’ in English due to its connection with uses involving claims to superior knowledge, refinement, and distinctions between ‘high’ art (culture) and popular art and entertainment.” […], and added that, “the steadily extending social and anthropological use of culture and cultural and such formations as ‘sub-culture’ has, either bypassed or effectively diminished the hostility and its associated unease and embarrassment.”

He concluded that the

recent use of ‘culturalism’, to indicate a methodological contrast with ‘structuralism’ in social analysis, retains many of the earlier difficulties, and does not always bypass the hostility.

END OF QUOTE

Sure, it sounds very ‘academic’ and difficult to understand, even for me, who have spent 2/3 of my leisure time for the past 30 years or so, deciphering dictionaries and lexikons. Luckily, modern theoricians and promoters on intercultural communication make life much easier for us students, with their pragmatic and down-to-earth language.

Iris Varner and Linda Beamer, for example, in the 5th edition of their textbook “Intercultural Communication in the Global Workplace” (Mc Grawhill Irwin, 2011) mentioned about the necessity of Intercultural Business Communication Competence and Growing Domestic Diversity, and proposed a series practical lessons covering the ‘Cultural and Communication‘ aspect, with the role of language and non-verbal language in intercultural business communication, and the importance of intercultural negotiation skills. The book also covers legal and governmental consideration in this discipline, the influence of business structures and corporate culture as well as the intercultural dynamics in the International Company.

In one of the sessions of his class on Intercultural Communication which is part of the curriculum for Year One in Psychology and the Science of Education at The University of Geneva, Professor Akkari presents the measures recommended by the Swiss conference of educators to help the quick integration of foreign students by educators to the increasing number of foreign students attending Geneva-based Primary and Middle Schools. Read his book – in French – entitled “Introduction aux Approches Interculturelles en Education” >PDF.

Other experts on this field, Drs Nancy Napier and Vuong Quan Hoang also address aspects such as “acculturation and global mindsponge” in their article under the same title to be consulted hereunder.

For my own studies, I have compiled a list of references, bibliographies, references and publications as per link to prepare my coming courses in this field.

 

Conclusion:

Intercultural Communication is becoming a topic of interest to many researchers. As the World is getting “flatter”, understanding this topic is necessary to better embrace HR related issues in an increasingly challenging working environment.

As a multilingual interpreter, dealing mainly with cross-cultural communication and intercultural negotiation, I am often confronted with being in situations, where mastering the required languages and the economic context alone, does not suffice. A continuous update on the macro-economic environment, as well as a critical analysis of the geopolitical development of world events are sometimes needed in this highly demanding job. By the way, this is also the main motivation for me to lecture as this activity helps me to keep connected to the real concerns of students in this field.

The challenges are even greater when negotiations often occur by distance, either by skype or teleconference, where both parties are sometimes handicapped by their own limitations in English and their lack of understanding of the counterparts culture and the pressure of short notice in most cases.

Personally, I love new challenges, and love meeting new people, so I don’t mind those long hours of hard work.

Thank you for your attention, and till next time,

Anita H.

You can join Anita H. on LinkedIN. See her profile. sg.linkedin.com/pub/anita-hoang/86/b1b/b39/

The Cost of Connectivity 2014

it was worth the trouble!

Full Text Reports...

The Cost of Connectivity 2014
Source: Open Technology Institute (New America Foundation)

The Cost of Connectivity is an annual report that examines the cost and speed of broadband Internet access in 24 cities in the United States (U.S.) and abroad. Overall, the data that we have collected in the past three years demonstrates that the majority of U.S. cities surveyed lag behind their international peers, paying more money for slower Internet access. The report presents the 2014 Cost of Connectivity data, which was collected between July and September 2014.

The 2014 report includes:

  • A literature review of other studies that rank and compare broadband speeds, pricing, and market factors domestically and internationally, which explains how the Cost of Connectivity fits among other reports produced by international organizations and independent think tanks and contributes new data and analysis.
  • A detailed methodology, which explains both the data collection process and the methods…

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There is something about me by Bui Le

Nice presentation by Bui Le Eng4MBA student!

Le Bui

Hi, everyone ^^

My name is Bùi Thị Lệ, i was born and grew up at Hue –  a peaceful and ancient city. Now I live in HCM city to follow my stuydy at University of Economics and Law. I love to take part in outside activities because it helps me  improve my ability to communicate effectively with others. It also taught me the importance of listening, supporting and respecting the others. My hobbies are travelling and cooking. Travelling gives me a chance to expore sth new and understand about the life. i love cooking so much, it esase my soul when i feel be under pressure and helps me become more creative. How about you? welcome to my blog and share whatever you like ^^

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