TWO WAY STREET: FROM VIETNAM TO NEW YORK AND BACK AGAIN
UP CLOSE With Brooklyn College Professor Ngoc Cindy Pham
This two way street is not an uncommon scenario of traditions creating a multicultural experience of synergy within communities. I came to know Dr. Ngoc Cindy Pham, a marketing professor from Brooklyn College Koppelman School of Business, at the Ideal Glass Studio. As I walked inside the door, Dr. Pham was assisting Bishop Jones with the donation for Haiti Hurricane victims at the Find Your ID NYC fashion show. Dr. Pham, in a fabulous white traditional outfit of her motherland Vietnam, was making special Vietnamese coffee for the fund-raising event.
There were several postcards of Vietnamese signature sceneries, prepared by Dr. Pham on the table, such as ladies in traditional outfit called “Ao Dai” (Long shirt) and the beautiful clear blue ocean of her hometown Nha Trang. I was quite impressed by the details and uniqueness of these postcards. I was quite impressed by the details and uniqueness of the postcards.
I asked Dr. Pham “What is unique about Vietnamese culture?” She told me that “it is a culture appreciating the traditional Eastern customs and the Western culture. You can find the uniqueness of Vietnamese culture embedded in local cuisine, architecture, and cloths.” While talking with Dr. Pham, I noticed her pleasant accent. She explained that it is a combination of Vietnamese, Singlish (Singapore’s English), Texas, and New York accents.
Dr. Pham, in her 4th year at Koppelman School of Business, has been teaching various courses in Business and Marketing, for which her multicultural background is always intertwined with the American business environment. Particularly, in her well-known International Business course, Dr. Pham was showing students the living and business customs of her home country Vietnam in every lecture.
She was born and raised in a business background where her father owns a logistic agency. She explained she loved observing the similarities and differences among businesspeople at the business dinner table. For example, it is quite impolite to turn down the drink offer even though one may not be a drinker; or it is common to go to karaoke bar after a business dinner. I interviewed some of Dr. Pham’s students volunteering at the culture and charity table. They told me that the event was able to expose them to the multicultural experience and help them to work abroad after graduation from Brooklyn College.
They said “Dr. Pham’s international business and marketing classes raise their interests and passion in business etiquettes from other parts of the world, and this event allows us to experience our love for diversity and cultural differences.”
Dr. Pham shared with me that she had successfully gotten an approval on the Study Abroad Program for Summer 2020, which was promoted on Brooklyn College website in early March last year before being postponed due to the pandemic. The program opens for all C.U.N.Y. students who can study the Vietnamese language with a certified language instructor and business lectures like a normal course at Brooklyn College within 22 days. The students can choose different local businesses to role play the staffs to see how businesses in Vietnam function. This exercise helps the students to practice the language, etiquettes, and business concepts in the real working environment. Dr. Pham explained that cuisine, especially street food is a big part of her culture.
She said “There are many cuisines in my hometown. We are a tourist city by the sea. I believe our seaside and nightlife are as awesome as Miami.”
When I asked Dr. Pham “Is there any upcoming cultural events?” She responded with passion and love that “I will co-organize the New York City African Restaurant Week. The food carnival will take place on October 9-10 at the Flatbush Junction, Brooklyn.” She proudly told me that 50% discount promotion is applied for all Brooklyn College members with a valid ID. She also very much appreciated Brooklyn College’s active involvement in the multicultural events hosted by International Student Office. “I keep an open mind when it comes to different cultures and cuisines. I want to share the same experience with my Brooklyn College family.
By joining this festival, I can try the African dishes for the first time and I will love them all. I believe that if we are open to the uniqueness in others, there will be no conflicts and misunderstandings.” She continued, “I hope that my students love the Vietnamese culture by seeing me as the Vietnamese representative.” “So far so good!” She ended the statement with a big smile and a wink. In addition, Dr. Pham’s life, volunteer and charity work during the pandemic were highlighted by the Museum of Chinese American’s top 25 most significant story.
Dr. Pham told me that her passion for multicultural experience is ongoing. She plan to invite the connections from African Restaurant Week and Find Your ID NYC agency to join the trip to Vietnam to exchange the cultures when the international travel is reopening.
“As far as I know, African restaurants are not in my hometown. There is a huge demand for diverse cuisines. Same thing is applied for fashion and music events. We need international concerts.”
To stay current on Dr. Pham’s projects and experiences follow her on IG here.