A Deeper Understanding of Peace
Pham Quang Huy, a student and then teacher at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV), was always curious about international relations and the causes and consequences of war and peace. However, it was not until he enrolled in a master’s degree program at International Christian University (ICU) in Tokyo that he could develop a more comprehensive understanding of peace. Mr. Pham’s studies were supported by the United Board’s Faculty Scholarship Program and the Japan ICU Foundation.
“The field of peace studies is not yet common in Vietnam, so before my program at ICU I thought peace is simply the absence of violence,” he said in a recent interview. “During my master’s program, I learned new approaches to understanding peace through international relations theory, peace and sustainability studies, and various other approaches.” His studies helped him recognize that peace, analyzed through ontology and epistemology, could be perceived as negative (the absence of violence, conflict, or oppression) or positive (an environment conducive to human development).
Studying at ICU also gave Mr. Pham new experiences in teaching and learning. “I learned a lot from my advisor and professors,” he recalled. “I learned critical thinking, how to manage the classroom, how to stimulate students, and how to link academic knowledge with real world practices.” Furthermore, he had a chance to expand his network through his interviews with Japanese specialists. After earning his master’s degree in June 2018, he was eager to incorporate his new knowledge and skills into his teaching of English for special purposes (ESP) at the DAV. His course on “English Language for International Relations” gave him the opportunity to stimulate in-class discussions and determine that the topics related to global governance and peace and conflict studies should be further developed in courses at the DAV.
Mr. Pham’s plans for new courses are ambitious, but his ICU education and experiences are lasting sources of motivation. When he began his master’s program at ICU, his advisor told him “You are here for big learning,” and Mr. Pham now wants to share that eagerness for big learning with others in Vietnam. “We have experts in area studies and international relations,” he said, and such experts could be the foundation for a network of people enthusiastic about peace studies. He also appreciates how friendships can promote understanding and peace. “The diversity of cultures and lifestyles at ICU is the most interesting spiritual gift that I was given,” he said, As a result of his ICU experience, “I have great, generous, international friends,” he said, which certainly are elements in an environment of positive peace.