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Dr. Viet Thanh Nguyen speaks at the 2020 Global Studies Hanway Lecture


On Oct. 7, students, parents, alumni, and faculty alike logged on to Zoom to hear the wise words of Dr. Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Pulitzer Prize winning author and professor of literature at the University of Southern California. 

The Hanway lecture is a signature Global Studies event funded generously by the Hanway family. The lecture provides insight to students on global leadership. The event was swiftly kicked off with an introduction from President Rev. Brian F. Linnane S.J.

Nguyen began by acknowledging the importance of global studies, even when we are unable to travel internationally. Recounting his background as a Vietnamese refugee, Nguyen stressed the importance of understanding global studies and how it affects society. According to Nguyen, this field makes for a more empathetic, connected world.  Additionally, he explained how education and generosity allowed him to overcome the racial and systemic oppression of being a refugee. 

For Nguyen, writing was a way out— a way to create a global world, connecting himself to both American and Vietnamese culture and beyond, even from meager beginnings. It was his passion for writing and literature that drove him to go to college and graduate from UC Berkeley with a PhD in English. Furthermore, Nguyen was propelled to writing by the rigor of his education. 

“I am a product of Catholic education,” Nguyen said. The thesis of Nguyen, and the Hanway lecture in general, is that education is crucial in a global world. 

In his Pulitzer prize winning novel, “The Sympathizer,” Nguyen approaches themes of globalization and culture in his home country of Vietnam. In the novel, Nguyen moves between two worlds, American and Vietnamese. The novel is a first hand look at how writing operated as a way to process Nguyen’s global worldview. Novels provide a window into other cultures, making authors representatives of a global world, and Nguyen was the perfect representative.

It was a pleasure to hear Dr. Nguyen’s story and insights. For more information, please visit the Hanway lecture series website. A recording of the lecture will be available on the website in the coming days.

Featured Image courtesy of Loyola Academy College Counseling

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Dr. Viet Thanh Nguyen speaks at the 2020 Global Studies Hanway Lecture