On April 10, 2023, Fulbright’s members had joined an cozy dinner with the delegation of the US Congress, led by Senator Jeff Merkley. Throughout the evening, the delegation attentively learned about the students’ experience at Fulbright University Vietnam, as well as shared their own expertise and stories.
Joining this CODEL dinner were Senator Chris Van Hollen, Representative Lloyd Doggett, Representative Pramila Jayapal, Representative Ilhan Omar, and senior advisors. From Fulbright University Vietnam, we had representatives who have been involved with the educational and cultural exchange programs of the US Department of State, such as the Global UGRAD scholarship program and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI).
Le Ngoc Ky Duyen (Fulbright’s Class of 2023) was part of the YSEALI Academic Fellowship 2021’s cohort, during which she spent a month of exchange experience at the University of Texas – Austin, which is coincidentally also a place that Rep. Llyod Doggett earned his JD. Sharing that connection, Duyen and Rep. Doggett quickly dived into an insightful conversation.
The delegation was keen to learn more about higher education in Vietnam and the students’ access to quality materials for their academic pursuits. Sharing with Rep. Doggett and his wife Libby Doggett, Ky Duyen and Cam Hoa (Class of 2023) said that the courses at Fulbright have helped them cultivate critical thinking skills and to have an open mind to see things via diverse perspectives, and most importantly to then form their own opinions with sound reasonings.
Another coincidence is that Dr. Libby Doggett also works in special education and early-childhood education, which is very much relevant to Ky Duyen’s major and career path. The two were very enthusiastic about exchanging knowledge and their own experiences in the field. Dr. Doggett was very impressed when she learned that Ky Duyen and a group of Fulbright students have been pioneering a social enterprise named EM-IN with the mission to improve the social-emotional capacity of children across Vietnam.
Reflecting back on the evening, Le Kha (Class of 2023) expressed that they feel very appreciative and appreciated. In addition to the inspiring works that each member of the delegation leads, Kha also admires the dedication and enthusiasm in each interaction with the delegation and their families. By the end of the night, handshakes and warm hugs were exchanged, as well as promises to keep in touch and optimism for a bright future ahead.