The two-week orientation program was an invigorating experience for Class of 2026 (Co26) to familiarize themselves with life at Fulbright University Vietnam. This was set out to help our freshmen develop new skills, connect with the community, and establish meaningful relationships.
One week into the very first semester at Fulbright University Vietnam, many of the freshmen found themselves amazed at how the Orientation Weeks 2022 had worked to ease in their every step navigating university life, from finding classrooms on campus to getting access to a wide range of student services.
Made possible by the Student Engagement unit and accompanied by a multitude of university-wide departments, the two-week orientation program was a comprehensive introduction of Fulbright to its more than 200 newbies of Co26. The program comprised numerous informative workshops and recreational activities, aiming to foster 11 change-maker competencies, including innovative & creative thinking, ethical reasoning, critical thinking, knowledge, collaboration, effective communication, reasoning, lifelong learning, civic engagement, health & wellness, and sense of self.
With small teams allocated in the first week, the second half of Orientation Weeks 2022 brought about new challenges for newbies to work with each other and get hands-on experience, in and beyond the classroom. “All of these lessons get the students ready for the upcoming journey and lay a solid bedrock for lifelong learning and excellence as engaged members of society,” exclaimed Ms. Ruby Nguyen, Student Engagement Manager, Office of Student Life.
Fulbright’s First Project
“Given three months, what project would you implement to enhance the student life at Fulbright University Vietnam?” was the challenge prompt for Co26’s Fulbright’s First Project.
The project pushed our newcomers to turn their own imagination of college life into reality, given insights and resources at Fulbright of which they have learned in the past week. Aiming to empower students to lead the change that can directly impact their upcoming journey, the Office of Student Life will grant up to VND 30,000,000 to the winning team so they can bring their project to life.
The judging panel comprised Mr. Steve Paris – Director of Student Life, Dr. Dinh Vu Trang Ngan – Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Ms. Dinh Thi Binh Duong – Director of Finance, and Mr. Mitch Kirby – Senior Education Advisor, United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The selection criteria for the winning projects are booth decoration, challenge identification, innovative & creative thinking, implementation plan, and teamwork.
After hours of brainstorming, on Friday, September 16, twenty teams showcased their projects in a booth to the Fulbright community, and make their presentation to the judges. “All of the projects were not only practical, but also heartwarming, and social-oriented,” praised Ms. Dinh Thi Binh Duong. “Our freshmen are surely bringing a breath of fresh air to Fulbright. They come with inclusivity, an unyielding passion of youth, and personality diversity. Despite the time constraint, our newbies still pursued their projects with unwavering professionalism, which showed in the way they delivered their presentation, convinced the audience, and answered the judges’ questions”.
Group 19 brought home the championship with Fulbike, making bicycles the means of transportation for Fulbright’s Waterfront residential freshmen. Riding a bike improves not only physical fitness but also one’s learning abilities and mental health. It can even develop your sense of adventure. Fulbike, when coming true, will provide free bikes for freshmen to get to the Fulbright campus quickly.
Running up was Group 5 with its Subject Tracking Website, solving the issue of tracking required courses in a liberal arts university like Fulbright. No matter if you pick a dual or single major, no matter if you are confident with your academic choices or you are still figuring it out, the website will assist you in navigating the challenges of academic progress and realizing your potential.
Tackling homesickness, a common problem that many Fulbright students shared moving away from home, the Fulture Fair (Fulbright Culture Fair) of Group 7 won the Second Runner Up prize. In the projected fair, students will ‘bring their homeland to Fulbright’ and share with each other their diverse culture: cuisine, clothing, dialects, stories, and photos.
SignLang of Group 20 won the Consolation Prize with a profound mission. Focusing on empathy, diversity, and communications, SignLang aims to help teach sign language to the Admission Team, facilitating their approach to Fulbright candidates with disabled hearing. The team members will also initiate optional sign language classes for Fulbright students in collaboration with the local hearing aid center.
Apart from the judges’ decision, Sweet Therapy Station of Group 3 won the People’s Choice Award with the highest vote casted by Fulbright students and staff. The Sweet Therapy Station will offer free daily-replenished protein bars, sweets, and coffee aimed to improve the productivity and alertness of the Fulbright community. Furthermore, it will also address the problem of those with low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, with immediate help.
Flamee-inspired recreational activities
Filled with project-based activities, the Orientation Weeks 2022 also introduced newbies with buoyant recreational activities that help them to loosen up, and foster critical thinking and collaboration among members.
Like an amusement park, “Flamee Park” consisted of numerous game stations, such as Road to Fullympia, The Price is Right, Lemon Soda Station, and Teamlepathy. Each of which asked for a specific knowledge or skill that required all team effort.
“Uncover Flamen’s Secret” was an exciting quest. Based on Flamee Journey Handbook, Flamee stumbles upon the secret treasure left by their grandfather, Elder Flamen. To decipher ancient writings, the little flame embarks on a journey that sharpens their understandings and reasonings. The conundrums were divided into pairs of ciphers, which, when linked, reveal an interesting detail about the treasure. Each team was to find hidden codes scattered around Fulbright’s District 7 campus, the Waterfront Residence, and Lawrence S.Ting Foundation, all of which are locations the freshmen will frequent in the upcoming college days.
Along with many student-centered programs for Co26, the Student Engagement Unit also organized a parents orientation meeting to connect them with Student Life, Academic Affairs, and Admissions. Attending the event, parents learned about the Undergraduate programs and the multitude of student-run initiatives at Fulbright. They were also able to resolve their concerns through direct dialogues with Fulbright staff regarding the upcoming 4 years of their beloved children.
The orientation program culminated in a Closing Ceremony, celebrating achievements of Co26 in the past fortnight with a variety of performances by talented student clubs and the freshmen themselves. The ceremony announced the winning teams of Fulbright’s First Project, and honored the dedication of many Student Orientation Leaders. If it were not for these enthusiastic volunteers, the initiative would not have made such a lasting impact to our newbies.
“I realized the most wonderful thing in every Fulbrighter is the willingness to engage. Everyone is just so willing to help and feel for someone, regardless of who they are or where they come from,” said Trần Nguyễn Hạnh Nguyên, a student of Co26 and also the Best Participant in Orientation Weeks 2022. “The program helped me make new friends and come to understand what it is like to be a Fulbright student. From the very beginning to the last day, I was so welcomed with open arms and companionship that, even in some moments, I did not feel like a newbie at all!”