On behalf of Co-design Year Students, Le Thi Nga My addressed her speech at The first Convocation of Fulbright:
As the concept of liberal education is new in Vietnam, not only the outsiders but also the Co-Designers ourselves are uncertain about how we will live and learn in Fulbright University Vietnam in the next 5 years. But such uncertainty is gradually getting faded thanks to the College Bridge Program.
Within it, not only do we get a clearer sense of our mission in the Co-Design Year but we also have amazing experiences, which I would like to share with you right now. As its name implies, the Bridge program was truly a bridge between high school graduates and novel academic skills required in the rigorous undergraduate curriculum.
We were exposed to essential academic English vocabulary and interesting new forms of writing such as: reflective writing and disciplinary writing. In addition, we had the golden opportunity to carry out and present linguistic researches by ourselves, which provided us the very first bits of knowledge of conducting researches.
Participating in demo classes was also a fantastic experience because it helped us visualize what we would learn and how we would contribute to Fublbright in the Co-Design year.
Sometimes we were quite overwhelmed to perceive new things and we craved for more days off. So it came the “Megan orientation series” – a special class where we learned how to balance our life, share our feelings and create better relationships.
Besides the academic aspect, another gift from the Bridge Program was unforgettable experiences and memories of coexistence in both campus and dormitory. Together we set up housing rules, explore HCMC, celebrated birthdays, watched scary movies, and did tons of other things.
Yet we also faced some unavoidable obstacles while living together.
The first difficulty some of us encountered was the tremendously diverse environment. There was ironically the ‘‘Vietnamese language barrier’’ as we
spoke different Vietnamese accents and used different Vietnamese vocabulary. There was thousands of talents and different interests. For example, Ngọc Long’s Huế accent was too impressive to ignore, anh Tủa’s stories about H’mong minority and chị Hà’s knowledge about LGBT were new horizons to us.
The other challenges we braved were to live far from home for the first time and to share the same roof with many unfamiliar people. Such things were not easy.
Nonetheless, it was our open-mindedness, our efforts of adapting to the new environment and Fulbright staffs’ enthusiastic assistance that helped us overcome these initial struggles and become a diverse and close-knit community in which each member possesses his or her own unique strength.
Indeed, without those problems, we would never have figured out solutions together, would never have understood each other so deeply, and would not have become beloved brothers, sisters and “homies”.
Some of us signed up the College Bridge Program without a second thought. Some of us wondered if we were right to leave the whole summer behind to join the program. However, after 6 weeks of living and growing in Fulbright, we are extremely thankful that we had joined because it broadened not only our minds but also our hearts.
The program is not an end to our summer but a beautiful start to our wonderful journey in Fulbright University Vietnam. From the bottom of our heart, we are truly grateful to faculty members and staffs for your wholehearted dedication to create the best summer ever for us.
Once again, thank you very much, Ms Pam, chi Ngan, 2 janitors, IT room …. and other great people in Fulbright who work hard for our future.