On June 22nd, 2020, Fulbright University Vietnam held a ceremony on campus grounds for the reception of the second round of funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The ceremony was attended by H.E. Daniel Kritenbrink, US Ambassador to Vietnam, Michael Greene, Director of USAID Vietnam, President of Fulbright University Dam Bich Thuy, as well as student and faculty representatives. Following a successful first round of funding in 2017, the new grant amounting to US $4.65 million will further support Fulbright as we continue to develop our educational programming, both for undergraduates and executive programs, expand training opportunities, bolster our administrative capacity, and prepare for the international accreditation process of our undergraduate program over the next two years.
“We know that trusting a university like Fulbright, at such an early stage, is not an easy decision. We appreciate the trust the US Government and USAID place in us. We will continue our efforts to create a rich and innovative learning environment for Vietnamese students,” said President Dam Bich Thuy.
Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink emphasized in his speech the unique position of Fulbright University Vietnam in the Vietnam-US bilateral relationship as a “cornerstone of our people-to people ties.” As both countries prepare to celebrate the 25th anniversary of renewed diplomatic relations, USAID’s investment in the development of our university holds special meaning, demonstrating the US government’s long-term commitment to Fulbright university Vietnam, a flourishing education sector, and a bright future for Vietnamese society more broadly.
“FUV is helping Vietnam respond to an undeniable thirst for modern education,” the ambassador explained, “this university is growing as an educational laboratory, testing new ideas about institutional independence, academic freedom, autonomy, admissions criteria, the relationship between students and teachers, research and development, student life, citizenship, communications, and technology. The success of these experiments will translate into success for Vietnam’s education system, people, and society.”
In addition, Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink congratulated Fulbright’s leadership in overcoming the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis quickly and effectively. Phan Thuc Anh then took the stage on behalf of our student community to share her experiences during this turbulent semester. As the pandemic continued to affect those around her, Thuc Anh’s desire to contribute her efforts in dealing with the pandemic led her to choose subjects outside of her majors. With the support of her professors, Thuc Anh drew on knowledge in epidemiology, policymaking, economics, proposal writing and more to conduct a pilot study, researching the effects of social distancing on virus transmission in Vietnam.
For Thuc Anh, “this is the beauty of Fulbright’s transdisciplinary approach and educational innovation: gaining a well-rounded understanding of the problem to create something meaningful.”
“When the crisis comes knocking on our door, helping students become true contributors and leaders in times of challenge demands much more from education than theoretical knowledge, skills, and attitude. It requires principles and a sense of mission, the ability to cope with negativity, to do hard things even when there is no one to praise us. But we would rather take on these challenges. We cannot afford the young’s inability and inaction as we take on the responsibility to face future crises,” Thuc Anh concluded.
Fulbright student Phan Thục Anh
After the ceremony, Ambassador Kritenbrink dedicated his time to an informal discussion with the Fulbright Young Diplomat Club. Our students drew on the ambassador’s decades long career in diplomacy and foreign affairs as he answered questions on the role of diplomacy, the value of trust, mutual understanding, and cooperation in building and maintaining relationships that benefit both countries.
Fulbright will welcome 180 new students this school year of 2020-2021, bringing the total number of enrolled undergraduates to nearly 300, an important milestone in the development of the university. Our university will take full advantage of USAID’s essential support to accelerate our efforts towards redefining higher education in Vietnam, fostering generations of leaders ready to overcome the challenges of tomorrow.