Mr. Daniel Kritenbrink, US Ambassador to Vietnam, came to Coastline College for a townhall to “listen to the aspirations and concerns” of the Vietnamese people in his first visit to Little Saigon, in Orange County, California, February 19, 2020. The Community Town Hall event was organized by the office of Congressman Alan Lowenthal who leads the Congressional Vietnam Caucus, along with Congressman Lou Correa, Congressman Harley Rouda, and Congresswoman Katie Porter. All were in attendance at the town hall held at Coastline College’s Garden Grove campus.
This region of Orange County constitutes the largest Vietnamese American population outside of Vietnam. This year marks the 45th year of the Vietnam War, and the 25th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam. Coastline College has embraced and has become an intimate part of serving the Vietnamese community over the past 20 years. Coastline College President, Dr. Lorretta Adrian, and CCCD Board Vice President Dr. Lorraine Prinsky, welcomed Ambassador Kritenbrink, the four US Representatives, and the Vietnamese community.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Kritenbrink affirmed that he “came here with the most important purpose of listening to the aspirations of people to be able to serve more effectively in Vietnam.” Ambassador Kritenbrink said that since taking office in November 2017, he has worked with the Vietnamese authorities in many aspects such as education, economics, health, and strengthened peace and freedom, and trade between the two countries, in order to help Vietnam be economically independent and have a stable security.
The ambassador emphasized: “Twenty-five years ago, the two countries had no trade relations, now the two-way trade amounts to $78 billion.” He pledged to continue working to overcome the above obstacles. The United States is now Vietnam’s largest export market, and Vietnam is one of America’s fastest growing markets worldwide.
He reminded the audience that “We have achieved a lot of progress but there are still challenges to overcome,” he said. The ambassador emphasized that the issue of human rights and religious freedom was still his daily mindset when working in Vietnam. “I always keep a card in my mind to remind myself that human rights and other freedoms, such as religion, speech, always come first,” he declared. “My mission is to protect the rights and safety of all US citizens in Vietnam, from people of Vietnamese descent to all other ethnic groups, or traveling, or working.”
This town hall meeting was an open forum to outline the work of the ambassador, discuss the development and future of the U.S.-Vietnam economic and trade partnership, the Vietnamese community’s effort to aid in preserving human rights in Vietnam, and answer questions from the Vietnamese community. Coastline College was honored to host this town hall event.
About Coastline College
Coastline College steadfastly focuses on providing access and supporting student success and achievement. Inspired by an innovative and student-centered mindset, Coastline delivers flexible courses and services that cultivate and guide diverse student populations across the globe to complete pathways leading to the attainment of associate degrees, certificates, career readiness, and transfer to four-year colleges/universities.