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Letters From ~ 8 

Letter from Vietnam

Chris in my reflection

Khau Huu Phuoc

Chris – an older brother whose knowledge and sense of humour I admire, a friend that wins the heart of everybody who knows him, and a global citizen whose abiding passions are for a decent life for all, to nurture and restore our shared ecosystem, and to realise and value the neglected wisdom of ‘ordinary people’. He has inspired many thinkers internationally.

I got to know Chris during the implementation of a regional project that my centre, SEAMEO CELLL, was doing on lifelong learning in Southeast Asia. I was with Rika Yorozu, from the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, coordinating the study of the status of lifelong learning development in eleven countries. And Chris together with Heribert were the consultants, who provided expert advice in reviewing the country reports and prepared a preliminary analysis.

During the project, a country submitted an extra piece of writing, and did it quite late on the timeline. When asked if it should be included, I said another petal of a rose would only add more sense without spilling the full glass of water. Chris found my comment interesting and replied to the report writer, “Perhaps I can add a little fertiliser to Mr Phuoc’s glass of water to assist your further work in preparation for the full report which you are working to complete this month.” With Chris’ professional advice, the report was revised and information from it was included in the project compendium.

That was seven years ago, and I have had many opportunities working with him and learning from his immense reservoir of knowledge. More than that, his ideology has begun to take root in my thinking. Education is for all, and equity must be ensured for this to happen. True, and without doubt of its value. He gave me advice and prompted my thinking in matters related to my work. He cared how I was when he happened to know I was sick. He is a big brother to me.

I joined PIMA in 2017. Chris was the editor of the then newsletter of this network. Inspired by his dedication to the development of the network, certainly through the publication of the newsletter as one of the channels of communication with the outer world, I contributed to this. People often point out charisma as an attribute of a strong leader. Chris does have it. He has garnered scholars, educators, academia, and many others working in the field of adult education for the newsletter, which is now a sizable bulletin, and has been supported through the love they have for him. Past PIMA online meetings did not have a sense of completeness when he was once or twice absent. The completeness of the content. And more than that, the sense of wholeness of PIMA.

If asked “Who is Chris Duke?” My immediate answer would be “a friend and thinker with a heart full of love, a character that inspires you to strive for the realization of education for all, and a thirst for knowledge that never ceases.” That is why I love Chris.

Khau Huu Phuoc is Manager of Research and Training at the Regional Centre for Lifelong Learning (SEAMEO CELLL), Vietnam, and member of PIMA’s EXCO

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