Dear cherished friends of Fulbright University Vietnam,
As we’re welcoming the arrival of Spring – the season of new beginnings as honored and celebrated in Vietnam’s upcoming Tết holiday, the hope it signifies of a return to normalcy, or for life to assume the “new normal” and blossom again, holds even greater significance for many of us, especially after protracted months of setbacks, incalculable loss, and personal grief endured during the pandemic. Within the Fulbright community, the past year also presented challenges that tested the limits of our resoluteness, and resourcefulness, in ensuring the continuous run of an academic program internationally standardized, while upholding our agility to adapt to the whirlwind fluctuations induced by the pandemic in our country.
While speculations over the future still linger on our minds and plague society, we couldn’t have been more pleased to pick up a few positive signs of a much anticipated rebound – one that heralds a return to how the best of things was, before the pandemic. Namely, the lecture hall of Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM) has been receiving students of the Class of 2023 in Master in Public Policy (Policy Analysis) since December 2021. While lectures held on campus in times of Covid-19 still require strict safety protocols from students and all members of the university alike, everyone shares the fevered excitement of attending classes in person, whose unbeaten optimism is palpable throughout educated debates and critical inquiries that exemplify the very spirit of Fulbright.
We’re also proud to have successfully organized a cordial reception which united over 50 alumni and scholars of the Fulbright Scholarship Program and the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program in Vietnam throughout the years, many of whom have been ardent supporters of Fulbright University Vietnam in our quest towards building a world-class university open to Vietnamese students from all walks of life. After the Tết holiday, we expect to welcome around 500 undergraduate students back to our campus, following an eventful semester taught and studied online. Although these are very early signs of relief, having weathered the tumults that many of us have experienced during the pandemic, we can’t help but feel hopeful and appreciative of the small things once taken for granted: friendships, meaningful connections, and in-person interactions with our inspiring fellows.
As reflected by Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Dean of FSPPM, in his speech delivered to the graduates of the Class of 2021 in Fulbright’s Master in Public Policy in our commencement ceremony held in late December 2021: “The future is unpredictable”. Six months ago, most of us couldn’t possibly imagine the exhaustive, sweeping changes inflicted upon our beloved Ho Chi Minh City and with them, our normal way of life. The world post Covid-19 will, or has already to some extent, come out as completely poles apart from what we had been familiarizing ourselves with regarding the long-standing issues in international politics, economic disparities, and social opportunities. Confronted with the complexity and volatility of a new world whose one and only constant variable is that of uncertainty, we have no other choice but to embrace it with a strengthened mindset, flexible and responsive to any staggering events looming along the way.
My dear friends,
I wholeheartedly believe that once we’ve composed ourselves with the right attitude, and readied with the foolproof power of knowledge, science, and pragmatic skills, we will be able to cope with anything, and everything, in a calmer, more level-headed and constructive manner. Such an informed and astute mentality can even turn adversities and challenges into opportunities for future success. It’s also the raison-d’etre behind dedicated efforts from each and every member of the Fulbright community to cultivate an academic environment in which students are emboldened with enlightened tools and ideas that shall serve as meaningful support for their individual paths and journeys of self-discovery into an unknown future. As such, Fulbright University Vietnam has always been a familial, trusted community where the young people of Vietnam learn “how to learn”, how to adapt to the ever-changing world, and to ask exacting questions that lead to innovative solutions.
In such an academically rigorous environment, every passing day demands small acts of self-improvement, relentless commitment to set goals, and untiring efforts from Fulbright students, faculty members, and staff to better ourselves while pursuing excellence in our chosen fields. In 2021, we were thrilled to celebrate the achievements of our two faculty members: Dr. Pamela Nguyen Corey and her book City in Time: Contemporary Art and Urban Form in Vietnam and Cambodia; and Dr. Ian Kalman with Framing Borders: Principle and Practicality in the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory. These new and remarkable publications bear the fruits of Corey and Kalman’s extensive fieldwork and research since their graduate days, while they’ve also been delivering inspiring classes in Art and Anthropology at Fulbright, respectively, much loved and admired by our undergraduates. At the same time, we’re also proud to receive great news of accomplishments from our students. From winning First Prize at the VinUniversity Global Case Competition 2021 to bringing home the championship from HLU Debate Tournament 2021 to being awarded the TPBank STEM Scholarships for their community-minded projects, Fulbright undergrads have demonstrated their budding talents and driven desires in applying what they have learned from Fulbright to serve and contribute to the good of communities around us. These young people are the very embodiment of our hope for a better and brighter future, and the reason Fulbright University Vietnam will continue striving towards building a world-class liberal arts and science university in the years to come.
Finally, I’d like to dedicate my heartfelt and best wishes to you and your loving family in the new Lunar New Year.
Dam Bich Thuy
President, Fulbright University Vietnam