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Every year, around this time, I revamp my teaching materials. This year, I switched to the co-construction approach of teaching. Before each chapter, students in the team will send me articles, movies, and exercises they want me to include. Such team will then host an independent study session for the class. I want to explain my WHY here for future reflection.

1. As the age and generation gap between my students and I have been widening throughout the year, I want my teaching to stay current. In the past year, I surveyed to understand them better. However, eighteen-year-old seems to be the age of unsureness. I saw the same pattern in their answers. Students find information from the same source, either Facebook or Kenh 14. They have not figured out their answers when asked about the career plan. I want my students to find their sureness through reading, decide what instil their curiosity, and share with their classmates. More important, I want them to start a habit of research prior to learning session.

2. Some ten years ago, when I was their age, we had two learning sessions: one with our professors and one with our teaching assistant for Q&A. We do not have this luxury in Vietnam. There is no separate Q&A session. Hence, we do not have enough time to deliver our lessons and dig deep into problem sets. The time shortage leads students to believe they need extra classes and crash courses before an exam. Making the independent learning sessions compulsory, I hope to introduce them to working in a team regularly.

3. The final and very selfish reason, I want to grow as a teacher and a learner. I have learned incredibly from my students and younger friends over the past years. I want to continue such learning habits through this co-construction approach with my students. The first week went well. I can't wait to watch a student's recommended movie called Gung Ho! this Tet Holiday.

When writing these lines, I am listening to Spotify's curated Viet Hip-hop. I arrived at this Suboi track, and I would like to share with you all.

Happy Tet holiday you all!

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I finished my application process this December. The journey packed with self doubts and self discovery. I found my past crumbles into anecdotes. I saw my future somehow more vivid. Everything in the past started to make sense. I am incredibly grateful for my teacher, my dear cousin (aka. my bff), old friends, and new friends for their emotional supports. I'm the lucky one. If you are reading my post now. I love you. Yes, you! I'm finally back with my reading, writing, and watching movie. Here is my list for December.


I watched Great Expectation (1998) for aesthetic pleasure. I've been curious with Gwyneth Paltrow's green knit outfit. It looks amazing on set. Confirmed!

The bridges of Madison County (1995) is another beautiful movie. It was a huge inspiration source in term of interior decor. The 1960s-era farm house with lace curtain, open cupboard, and floral wall papers is full of romance. Talking of lace curtain, this below video is feast to interior enthusiast in me.


In defense of a liberal education:

It was a nice quick read as I've been wondering the role of liberal education. The goals of liberal education are: to train the mind to think and to fill the mind with specific content.

"The two great points to be gained in intellectual culture, are the discipline and the furniture of the mind; expanding its powers, and storing it with knowledge. The former of these is, perhaps, the more important of the two. A commanding object, therefore, in a collegiate course, should be, to call into daily and vigorous exercise the faculties of the student.

Liberal education “teaches you how to think” through the writing process:

“Being forced to write clearly means, first, you have to think clearly. I began to recognize that the two processes are inextricably intertwined. In what is probably an apocryphal story, when the columnist Walter Lippmann was once asked his views on a particular topic, he is said to have replied, “I don’t know what I think on that one. I haven’t written about it yet.”

I also agree with the book that you will be grateful for liberal education not one but six years after graduation. As a person with diverse interest, I am on my way to connect the dots. Everything started to make sense. To learn independently and appreciate other disciplines (beside economics) takes time but worthwhile. Each time you allow yourself to learn something new, the more you know thy self.

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

My friend Minh Dương from One Percent a Month sent me this book for long time. I took me two years to picking it up. The book collects advices and tweets of Naval Rivikant. If you are my students, you might listen to his interview with Farnam Street and aware of Naval's advocation for Microeconomics.

Some interesting takeaways from the book are:

On wealth

  • Pick an industry where you can play long-term games with long-term people.

  • Escape competition through authenticity

  • The most important skill for getting rich is becoming a perpetual learner. You have to know how to learn anything you want to learn

  • Your reputation will literally end up being thousands or tens of thousands of times more valuable than somebody else who was very talented but is not keeping the compound interest in reputation going

  • My definition of wisdom is knowing the long-term consequences of your actions. Wisdom applied to external problems is judgment. They’re highly linked; knowing the long-term consequences of your actions and then making the right decision to capitalize on that.

  • I also encourage taking at least one day a week (preferably two, because if you budget two, you’ll end up with one) where you just have time to think.

  • Reading science, math, and philosophy one hour per day will likely put you at the upper echelon of human success within seven year

On happiness

  • A happy person isn’t someone who’s happy all the time. It’s someone who effortlessly interprets events in such a way that they don’t lose their innate peace.

Saving yourself

• Brain works better

• Exercise & sunlight

• Shorter, less pleasantries

• More dialogue, less monologue

• No slides

• End easily by walking back

On earth we briefly gorgeous

I found Ocean Vuong as running through an Instagram story of one of my favorite fashion influencer (Glam with Trish). My friend circle has raved about him a long time ago. Yet, I completely fall for him after listening to his interview with Seth Meyers.

I spent two days listening to Ocean Vuong interviews and his book (On earth we briefly gorgeous). I am not necessary a fan of his works but I admire his approach to life. I found myself in his story: the love for rhetoric and the struggle with family relationships. He reminded me how power can deliver through tenderness.

And I think I embrace that in everything I do — writing, sitting with you now — how do I do it with care. And even in the temples — in many Asian-American households, when you enter the house, you take off your shoes. Now, we’re not obsessed with cleanliness any more than anyone else. But the act is an act of respect: I’m going to take off my shoes to enter something important; I’m going to give you my best self. And I think, even consciously, when I read or give lectures or when I teach, I lower my voice; I want to make my words deliberate; I want to enter — I want to take off the shoes of my voice so that I can enter a place with care so that I can do the work that I need to do.
“The future’s in your hands.” But I think the future is actually in your mouth. You have to articulate the world you want to live in, first. We pride ourselves, as a country that’s very technologically advanced — we have strong, good sciences; good schools; very advanced weaponry, for sure — but I think we’re still very primitive in the way we use language and speak, particularly in how we celebrate ourselves. “You’re killing it.”

I also admire Ocean for his work ethics. His perfectly constructed sentences amaze me every single time.

“Because the sunset, like survival, exists only on the verge of its own disappearing. To be gorgeous, you must first be seen, but to be seen allows you to be hunted.”
“They say nothing lasts forever but they’re just scared it will last longer than they can love it.”


I came across this podcast after being so impressed by Prof. But Tran Phuong on Vietcetera's Edustation Podcast. This episode helped me understand how the East meets West on feminism. Highly recommended for anyone interested in feminism.

I also enjoyed another episode from Future Impact Academy about Cai Luong (a form of Vietnam traditional performance) with Bach Tuyet.

Last year, I appeared in my friends' episodes on teaching during the COVID-19 and life-long learning. Listening back, there is a long (and winding) road to be an effective public speaker. I need to better off my use of word and voice control. So 2022 will be the year of speech improvement.

Teaching technique

A little update after my post on my online teaching techniques with Facebook. I found Mural can be equally interesting way for students to raise their voices.


I intended to post this on Xmas. With a slight delay, here is one of my favourite holiday tune.

Happy New Year and hope to see you in this virtual world again!

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Updated: Dec 18, 2021

I grew an interest over loudspeakers during the pandemic. Before the fourth wave, I found it such a clever information channel of Vietnamese local government. The citizen can stay alert wherever we are. We are informed. The loudspeaker system was first used in the 1960s during the Vietnam war. It then was considered a source of urban annoyance (Vo, 2017). The pandemic marked the resurgence of an almost forgotten system. In line with the government's slogan "Chống dịch như chống giặc" (fight the pandemic like fight against your enemy), the loudspeakers entered public soundscape again, blaring its news morning and afternoon (Nguyen, 2020). Given the success of our country during the first three waves, I started to wonder whether loudspeaker can deliver other social policies? Education related? As a form of nudge?

My interest in loudspeakers soon went sour. As the country hit Delta variation, Hanoi decided to lockdown for 30 days. Right afterwards, my neighbourhood was locked down for another 23 days, increasing F0 cases in our surroundings. As an introvert, I was perfectly fine staying at home. My love for loudspeakers, however, turned into utter annoyance. The loudspeakers blare at the maximum volume with dense frequency: when I woke up, as I gave a lecture online, right after my naps, etc. I started to understand how forced listening could threaten American soldiers during the war.

"How are you, G.I. Joe? It seems to me that most of you are poorly informed about the going of the war, to say nothing about a correct explanation of your presence over here. Nothing is more confused than to be ordered into a war to die or to be maimed for life without the faintest idea of what's going on," - Hanoi Hannah

Loudspeakers have been used vastly in political parties, large religious groups, and advertising agencies. Jacques Attali defined noise as a "language of resistance used against hegemonic powers to bring about social change". In the USA, loudspeakers have been used for election campaigns since the 30s. Given the limited rural listenership in local radios, Huey Long utilized sound trucks in his 1930 campaign against Joseph E. Ransdell for a Louisiana seat in the U.S. Senate (Sewald, 2011). In modern times, their efforts were experimental. We can easily find loudspeakers from street vendors or local circuses in modern times.

Loudspeakers become measure to catch and hold attentions of unempowered listeners (Sewald, 2011). I started to question my control over exposure as the lockdown went by. Surrounding public and private soundscapes seized such control. One morning, my irritation reached its limit; I picked up my phone calling a local authority claiming about the annoying loudspeakers. Thankfully, she listened and reduced the broadcasting time to once a day. I added another layer to my previous question: If we used loudspeakers to inform policies, when 'enough is enough'?

Apparently, loudspeakers are still relevant. Household Living Standards Survey 2018 dataset showed 60% of citizens acquiring news from the loudspeakers. Looking closer, people in rural areas are more likely to listen to loudspeakers than urban citizens (65.7% vs 54.4%). The limited ownership of radio, television, smartphone, and computers might contribute to such dependence on loudspeakers.

In terms of regions, the Red Delta River residents have the highest percentage (83%) listening to loudspeakers the most. Significantly, 89% of rural residents get their news from loudspeakers. Urban residents also have the highest possibility (67.7%) of listening to loudspeakers compared to urban residents in other regions. It might be driven by passing habits or soundscape from the past war in Northern Vietnam.

Given the high dependency on loudspeakers, no one can deny the importance of the system. It still can serve as an effective information channel during times of crisis. However, when Vietnam enter the new normal, the overplay of loudspeakers can damage its citizens' mental health. It damaged me, a fragile soul who is oversensitive with sound. Broadcasting became a form of forced listening. In 2017, 70% of Hanoians voted to remove loudspeakers. By 2021, the government has already issued an initiative to change to better information channelling (Tuoitre Online, 2020).

Broadcasting loudspeakers is also up to 2 morning-afternoon/day, five days/week. Saturdays and Sundays are broadcast only when there are exceptional cases, but the maximum broadcast duration is 45 minutes per radio session.(Vietnam News Agency, 2017)

Yet as the fourth wave hit, we returned to "emergency stage". Loudspeakers was back in its war mode. As the crisis extended, loudspeakers lost their magic. My fascination over them is gone. I turned my music extra loud whenever the loudspeakers were on. And here is my pandemic playlist:

P.S: My curiosity over loudspeakers remains. It, however, might take some weeks to recover from my mental wound. Until next time, I will update you my new findings over loudspeakers.


  1. Nguyen-Thu, G. (2020). From wartime loudspeakers to digital networks: communist persuasion and pandemic politics in Vietnam. Media International Australia, 177, 144–148.

  2. Sewald, R. L. (2011). Forced listening: The contested use of loudspeakers for commercial and political messages in the public soundscape. American Quarterly, 63(3), 761–780.

  3. Tuoitre Online. (2020). Hơn 70% người dân Hà Nội ủng hộ bỏ loa phường - Tuổi Trẻ Online.

  4. V. H (2017) War-time loudspeakers to continue blaring out across Hanoi despite huge public opposition. VnExpress, 2 April. Available at: (accessed 14 June 2020).

  5. Vietnam News Agency. (2017). Hà Nội quy định thời lượng phát của ‘loa phường’ không quá 15 phút |

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