November 23, 2018

Risky but Worth It: My Fulbright Decision

November 23, 2018

I used to wonder what Fulbright was about, what they would teach, what were the things they had to offer, whether this environment would be suitable, and so on. But after experiencing myself, I could confidently say that Fulbright was worth it, and I’m really glad I gave Fulbright a chance.

Open House event was such a beautiful and memorable way for Fulbright to conclude this year’s admission workshops series. Indeed, for every single staff, faculty, and co-designer who had worked attentively together preparing for this final event, the presence of 350 people with 150 unexpected was truly an unspeakable joy and gratitude. But on top of that, it was a boy’s sharing he was really glad he went to the event today and had learnt so many new things that deeply touched my heart.

Those words also reminded me of what made me become a co-designer in the first place –Fulbright was unique and unlike any other existing universities in Vietnam, and Fulbright made me believe there would be an educational difference in Vietnam and for Vietnam.

Why did I make such strong remark? Because do you often get to witness the sight of a whole class giving thunderous rounds of applause to the teacher after a Math lecture? Yes, you got it right, a Math lesson, with joy, excitement, and appreciation from all of the students! But that’s not the end. Have you ever seen students holding so tightly to a piece of History paper and even running back to grab it after leaving for another conversation? I bet it is not a common scene, especially for students in Vietnam.

And yet, I watched them both first hand on Open house day, after demo classes by Fulbright faculty: students with wide smiles and contentment on their face after spending a quality time, discussing with one another about what they just learnt. I myself too had this exhilarating experience last year when I participated in a Chemistry class with Professor Hung and his interesting topic Lithium battery.

I barely remember what or how ankin is made of after 3 years at high school, but I would never forget that nearly every single smartphone we are using runs on LIB battery, it’s created using electroflotation, it’s very environmentally friendly and being developed for usage in electrical bikes –and I picked these up within an hour lesson.

As an educator, Fulbright has done an excellent work of evoking a sense of intellectual curiosity in all of the students and getting them immersed in each lesson in my opinion. And this is what most education institutions in Vietnam lack right now, rather than give students the incentive, desire and the path to gain knowledge, they try to impose the knowledge on the students instead.

At the event, I met and talked with several prospective students, and in the end a boy from VNU-HCM High school for the gifted came to me and privately shared: “Thank you so much for your enthusiasm, it was very helpful. I found Fulbright’s community and academic environment were much more close, open, and friendlier than other university’s workshop I had been to. In addition, I extremely enjoyed the concept Liberal arts that Fulbright pursued.

It suited me so well for I had interest in multiple fields from technology, physics to engineering, so it would be wonderful if I could spend my first year trying out different subjects to see which career and direction were cut out for me. Actually, I never intended to come here today had it not been for my friends. But looking back, I’m really glad I came and spent time with you all.” Then he gave me a super big, cute smile with a promise of opening application immediately when he got home.

Needless to say, his words made my day. But deeper, it made me realize and reflect on my thoughts as well as feelings after I chose and came to Fulbright too. Because the satisfaction he expressed when he described Fulbright as his ideal choice for undergraduate study, the gratitude and joy he sensed when he got to spend quality time with whom he could learn from and decided to come to Fulbright, I’m feeling exactly the same way.

Back then, I too was nervous and did have many doubts, so I shared his feelings and presumably other current applicants. I used to wonder what Fulbright was about, what they would teach, what were the things they had to offer, whether this environment would be suitable, and so on. But after experiencing myself, I could confidently say that Fulbright was worth it, and I’m really glad I gave Fulbright a chance.

 

No, I’m also glad I gave myself a chance –to take risks, to embrace the vision and believe wholeheartedly, and most importantly, to grow up. One of the greatest things Fulbright gave me is the ability to think critically and always approach an idea, a problem, anything with multiple perspectives and dimensions. This mindset allows me to have a broader overview and teaches me to accept as well as respect diversity and difference.

For example, I learnt that it’s not enough for a software engineer if he only knows the way to create a product, as he also needs to be able to understand the customers himself to know what to create. Another example is I used to be a stubborn and unempathetic person who usually argues until others are too tired to go on, but now I know that everyone has their own set of different beliefs and opinions than I do that I should respect rather than keep persuading them to adopt my way of thinking.

I also learn the way to learn using sprint method, learn to be independent and co-operative as I live with five other co-designers and most Fulbright activities require teamwork, and learn to apply theory into practice through course assignments and field trips. I personally could see how myself has changed only merely after two months.

Of course, there are days when I experienced bad feelings and events, but not a single day passed by that I did not feel grateful for this opportunity and doing something meaningful. This feeling of contribution and living to the fullest is one thing I have rarely found but at Fulbright.

All in all, I was so happy to meet, talk and share with so many students and their parents about our student and academic life at Fulbright. From the bottom of my heart, I hope they all had a good time and found what they need. I hope the parents could see Fulbright’s superiority in terms of vision, learning experience, academic model, and values to encourage and support their children in their applying to Fulbright.

Especially, I hope both the students and parents will remember the joy and excitement they experienced at the event as they make the decision of where to study. Because I believe that kind of learning atmosphere and attitude should take place after every single class, and that any student deserves to study in such environment. So here are to those who are still hesitant, I hope you will give Fulbright a chance, and give yourself a chance to receive quality innovative yet quintessential education.

Nguyen Nhu Phuong Anh

(Co-Design Year Student)

VIDEO: Nguyen Nhu Phuong Anh joined The Fulbright Fair 2017 in Hanoi last year. After the Fair, she decided to apply to Co-Design Year and became one of 54 students. 

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