Human rights activist Marina Schuster speaks for Bhutto-Ispahani lecture series.
Since the Vietnam War, La Verne professor Lawrence Machi has spent 45 years reversing the negative effects of war through education. Now, his Fulbright appointment will help him take another step forward.
After serving in the military during the Vietnam War, Lawrence Machi promised himself he was going to return to the United States and dedicate himself to a career of helping others.
Machi, a Professor of Organizational Leadership at the University of La Verne, has been able to channel his lifelong passion of service full circle. Returning to Vietnam in 2008, be began to work with Vietnamese leaders in higher education reform. Most recently, his work in Vietnam has garnered a Fulbright appointment.
“It’s an honor for the University to have a Fulbright appointment,” said Mark Goor, dean of La Verne’s College of Education and Organizational Leadership. “I’m proud of him. He worked very hard.”
The Fulbright Specialist Program (FSP) promotes linkages between U.S. academics and professionals and their counterparts at host institutions overseas. The program is designed to award grants to qualified U.S. faculty and professionals, in select disciplines, to engage in short-term collaborative two- to six-week projects at host institutions in more than 100 countries worldwide. International travel costs and a stipend are funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating host institutions cover grantee in-country expenses or provide in-kind services.
Project activities focus on strengthening and supporting the development needs of host institutions abroad. Eligible activities include short-term lecturing, conducting seminars, teacher training, special conferences or workshops, as well as collaborating on curriculum planning, institutional and/or faculty development.
As a Fulbright Specialist, Machi will be able to collaborate with any foreign university that could use his expertise, though his heart is with his colleagues in Vietnam.
“The Fulbright is something for which I wanted to apply for a long time,” Machi said. “Winning the appointment gives me chance to help others. I am honored to be able to serve, and to continue a long tradition at La Verne.”
Throughout the past few years Machi has had the opportunity to work with faculty at universities in Vietnam and share his knowledge and experiences in organizational leadership to assist them in changing their universities.
“My work is, first, about learning and listening,” Machi said. “Then, it’s about co-creating with my colleagues.”
“Because he has visited Vietnam the last four years, he has developed an understanding of what it will take for that country to prepare leaders for new realities,” Goor said.
Though Machi has much to offer, he does not want to force his ideas upon anyone. He finds his real mission is to engage in mutual learning with his colleagues.
“It’s not about what I can teach and tell,” Machi said. “It’s about building common understanding by really listening to each other. I think collaboration provides the possibility of creating the great story. We come together to create, and we learn from each other. Our work is about helping our brothers and sisters around the world. We do this unconditionally, seeking to mutually learn and collaboratively build.”
With the Fulbright appointment, Machi will have the opportunity to be matched with academic institutions from other countries that can benefit from his knowledge, experience and work that he has done.
“Fulbright is not just an exchange; it is far more than that,” Machi said. “It’s about creating long-lasting relationships.”
Goor said he sees Machi’s opportunity as a bridge.
“We will use this to bring attention to the work of our college in global initiatives,” Goor said. “It’s an opportunity to take our expertise to places in the world that will make a difference.”
Goor said that Machi has worked diligently to obtain grants and funding for the work he has done in Vietnam, so that it didn’t cost La Verne.
Machi said that all universities face the same issues, but in different contexts regardless of where they are in the world, and that he hopes to learn from others in places such as Vietnam
“It’s a responsibility of a Fulbright to return to your home university and share learning,” Machi said.
Though Machi has accomplished a lot, he said it could not be possible without the support of Margaret “Peggy” Redman, professor of Education & Director of Teacher Education; Tom Harvey and Bill Bearley, professors of Organizational Leadership, and Vietnamese teacher Nam Hau Doan, among others.
And Goor has played in integral role in this new opportunity.
“Mark has been incredibly helpful,” Machi said. “He’s very forward-thinking about these things.”
And so is Machi. It would have been easy for him to let his experiences during the Vietnam War negatively affect his life. But Machi worked hard to create a new beginning, one he has been working on since 1967.
“A good friend said, ‘You don’t come back from war, you come back with war,’ ” Machi said. “You have to close that chapter and replace it with a new one in order to get on with life.”
– Story by Susan Acker, for the VoiceOnline