With the students’ best interests constantly in mind, Fulbright has always been so wholeheartedly supportive and phenomenal in trying to provide the students with every learning opportunity and experience under the sun.
From entrusting us with the role of curriculum co-designer to turning Hue – the imperial city – into our classroom, the university has generously allowed us to become deeply and creatively engaged in our learning path. And most recently, Fulbright made it possible for us – a small group of students and professor Jill Skultip – to participate and present our work at the 3rd World Conference on Personality held in Hanoi from April 2nd to 6th.
Our team is made up of Psychology club members, a crave-for-knowledge co-designer, and a class of 2023 student. We all have been working on the preparation for this conference since November. Our task was to study her recent research on Thai shyness and design a poster.
Although we did not first-handedly conduct the research and have limited knowledge about Psychology, each of us was so enthusiastic to complete the task as we all felt delighted that we could share this new finding to people.
On top of that, the understanding about research process – from what qualitative and quantitative methods are available for gathering the data to the importance of sample size to why a research needs to be assessed and approved by Institutional Review Board – gradually dawned on us. Needless of a formal class, ideas about the academia world naturally came to us and made us even more excited for the conference.
One week before the conference, the team received the brochure and just by the title of the talks alone were fascinating. The conference was divided into many subthemes and we were all surprised and excited at the same time to see the convergence between personality and various aspects of human’s life – leadership, education, politics, growth, evolution, etc.
I also felt proud when I figured that there would be several presentations by Vietnamese psychologists for it once more showed that step by step in the international playground Vietnamese people are proving themselves to be no less capable and talented as well as we are also contributing to the human source of knowledge.
That said, this was the first time attended an academic conference so each of us held many expectations and anxiety such as most the keynote speakers would be the elders and have white beard or what they presented would be partly incomprehensible to us.
Despite our initial worries, during our poster session, a lot of people stopped by and we were glad to see people were interested in what we were doing and even suggested us future directions we could follow with our research.
There was a researcher from Spain who was also doing research on cultural expectations and she shared that her finding of people coping’s mechanisms was somewhat similar to ours. And gradually as the conference went on and after listening to a diversity of presentations and speech, all speculations turned into valuable lessons and experiences.
The first thing I learnt is that young people around the world are more competent and excellent as days go by for as a matter of fact only one fourth of the presenters were what we originally stereotyped a researcher to be.
On the second day there was a fresh graduate student at UC Berkeley presented that individual difference led to variability in life satisfaction and I had lunch next to a graduate at South Africa, Fetvadijev, whom had worked with mostly successful South African women to find out what traits they have in common.
Fetvadijev was in a psychology association at university so she gave a lot of useful advice on how we can improve our club’s activities to have lasting impacts. In addition, their topic of research was unconventional yet engrossing.
For example, there was a research improved on the past research that claimed too much happiness could have negative effect on our health published in 2011 by researcher Gruber, Mauss and Tamir.
It was a very interesting talk to me for many have lamented that we are living in a world of complacency and yet there are researches showing that perhaps discontentment and letdown every now and then are good for us.
Another thing broadened my mind was to see and understand why humans advance so fast and will unceasingly transform our knowledge about the world and how we live hourly: because we keep asking questions about ourselves, our society, and the world and universe we live in. But more importantly, we constantly challenge and question what we found.
It’s because of the intellectual curiosity and critical mindset to understand all things and desire to enhance the quality of our time on Earth that serves as a power source that propels and brings human civilization to a higher level – to where we are and towards an even more remarkable and promising future.
All in all, our team in general felt so lucky to be supported and given the chance to go to this Personality Conference. It was crucial and valuable for us to learn more about the academia world as well as to see whether ourselves are cut out for this profession. And we would not have garnered these skills, knowledge, and wonderful experience had it not been for the absolute encouragement and endorsement of President Thuy.
Hence, on behalf of the research assistant team, I would love to send our deepest gratitude and love to our president Thuy: each of us greatly treasures this opportunity and thank you for being the brilliant, warm, and sympathetic president we admire.
Being able to study in such an innovative, collaborative, and vibrant environment with full of experiences such as one being cultivated at Fulbright University Vietnam, us co-designers have no doubt together we will fulfill our mission as the pioneering institution in re-imagining higher education in Vietnam and producing a next generation of leaders for Vietnam in Vietnam.
Phuong Anh – Student of Co-Design Year