Roland Skinner just returned from a business trip to the Far East. He travels to Viet Nam three times a year to represent a Biloxi importer.
Skinner said "I review his contracts when he gets into a contract over there, and they convert it into English, or translate it into English".
But Skinner often feels lost, because of the language barrier.
Skinner said "I need to learn some Vietnamese because I'm in a conference room, and everyone's speaking Vietnamese and I don't understand a word".
Dr. Joseph Vuong is ready to help students, like Skinner, learn basic Vietnamese. He and his wife are teaching two Vietnamese language courses at Tulane's Biloxi campus .
Dr. Vuong said "Mostly, I teach the Vietnamese sounds, the vowel sounds. If you catch the vowel sounds, you catch everything".
For 11 years, Dr. Vuong has taught Vietnamese classes at Tulane in New Orleans. His students include police officers, people whose spouses are Vietnamese, even students from France, Yugoslavia and China.
Believe it or not, half of Dr. Vuong's students are of Vietnamese descent. They have either forgotten the language, or never learned it in the first place. The class helps them re-connect with their roots, so they can teach their children the language, and be able to communicate with their elders.
Dr. Vuong says some students want to learn Vietnamese to land better jobs, do better in school, or earn credit for foreign language classes. He understands that learning a new language can be intimidating, but he says it's not as hard as many people think.
Dr. Vuong said "You can understand Vietnamese if you take the course, especially in beginning Vietnamese. In three months, you will know how to speak and write".
The Vietnamese classes are held on Saturday mornings. The program starts January 17th. To register, you can call Tulane at 388-5769.