I was born in a small village in the outskirts of Long Khan, Vietnam, and immigrated to the United States in 2003. We fled our home in the veil of night, leaving our pig pens and concrete home to the mercy of vengeful neighbors. My brother and I dug through dumpsters for food, scavenged bottles for recycling, lived next to drug houses, and walked through gunrunners in hopes of an education. There has not been a moment in my life where I have not felt as though I am crawling through barbed wires, and even now my atrophied legs fail to find footing to stand tall. Yet, I am lucky. As my friends faced iron bars, fell prey to addiction, or were lowered down in six-foot holes, I fought to keep my head above the raging currents that drowned their futures. I escaped a fate tilling rice fields in Vietnam, yet I am willing to give away what little I have to provide at least one person the opportunity to hope, to never share the fear of a knife to their throat or a meal from garbage bags, to reach for something greater.
My determination in pursuing an MA in GPED was not an afterthought. In lieu of a specific major for international political economy provided by my university, I decided to pave my own path and intentionally took courses pertaining to international political affairs and global economics in hopes of grasping at an understanding of the geopolitical-economic situation of Asian nations. My courses in U.S foreign policy, international political economy, international relations, and security crises of East Asia, as well as my classes in corporate policy and the Korean economy, management in the global economy, international business, and the global economy, were taken with the intention of pursuing a career in international affairs and economic development. Yet, as I continued to learn, the less I seem to understand.
As I debate with my peers in seminars intended to discuss the direction of U.S foreign policy, the pugnacious nature of American political study becomes increasingly apparent. Rather than search for an alternative – a peaceful solution regardless of its unorthodox nature – dogmatic adherence to an antagonistic rational philosophy favors analytical reasonings for war over cooperation and global enrichment. In my area of focus, the rise of China continues to be the focal point of international political-economic discussion, yet the fear of an inevitable conflict neglects possible avenues for peaceful structural changes. Rather than focus on military projection, ameliorating the issues of international economic instability, cultural hostilities in the era of globalization, debt and humanitarian crises, and infrastructure development in the modern global political economy must take precedence. It is because of the international student body of the University of Kassel’s graduate program that I chose to pursue a degree in Germany. I want to collaborate and share ideas with those removed from the political-economic ideologies of American studies, and investigate the forms of global governance, the forces of globalization, and the theories and practices shaping international development.
It is because I constantly seek this cultural connection and discussion, that I worked 30 hours a week throughout my undergraduate studies to fund my study abroad program and travels. In South Korea I discussed the nuclear crisis of the peninsula and the social philosophies of the old and new generations with my counterparts; I explored corporate cultures and the emerging ideologies of the youth in Japan; and conversed with the farmers, and the youth of Saigon, about the effects of foreign investment. The answers I received from these experiences have shaped my world view, and it continues to fuel my fervor for studying the global political economy and development.