Viet Minh Huynh is attending Stanford University in California. One thing he likes about being a sophomore at the university is he doesn't have to choose a major at this time. Subjects that interest him are international relations, economics and management/engineering. He tells us how the Singapore government helped him get to the United States.
“As my name says I am from Vietnam and in 1997 Singapore government came over to Vietnam and they sponsored twenty-one scholarships for Vietnamese students as a program to help students in the Aceh South Asia region. So twenty-one students from Vietnam received a scholarship to study in Singapore so after I completed my high school in Singapore I applied to Stanford University and now I am here and Stanford is sponsoring my education and I am having a great time here.”
Having the freedom to make his own decisions and interacting with other students at Stanford has been a good experience according to Viet. “When I first came here I was rather apprehensive because it was the first time I had been in the United States, however the people here are extremely, extremely friendly. They are helpful and kind to me,” he says. “ The second thing is the academic environment. I came here wanting to be an engineer, however after exploring all the academic opportunities here, I have total freedom to change my major and explore whatever I like. The academic environment is very open, liberal and very flexible,” he added. “And thirdly last year I was awarded a fellowship to do a public service program in Vietnam. So I just designed my own service program and return to Vietnam. I work with a group of volunteers the United States and from Singapore to do a medical trip in Vietnam and Stanford sponsored me to organize the trip. So overall Stanford is very interesting and very great.”
Although opportunities for young people in Vietnam needs to improve, Viet says his country has made great economic strides in the past five to ten years. When it comes to Vietnam and the United States diplomacy, Viet says….”regarding the relationship between the U-S and Vietnam I definitely see much progress in the past few years and recently I met with some people from this new organization called ‘Vietnam Education Foundation,’ he says. “This organization is established by the U-S government. It was an initiative proposed by Bill Clinton and it was signed by Senator John Kerry. What this program does is provide opportunity for students who graduated from Vietnam University to attend a master or PhD program in the United States. And every year they offer about sixty something to one hundred outstanding students from Vietnam to study in the U-S and after that they are required to return to Vietnam and help the country. And I think this initiative is one of the good examples to show how much the two countries have made in normalizing and improving the relationship between the two and especially Vietnam is trying to get into the World Trade Organization, the W-T-O. And I hope Vietnam will be admitted to the WTO in the next three years and once they are inside the international trade relationship between Vietnam and the United States will be improved and definitely international trade is one important aspect that tie the two countries to get together. So at the moment the two countries is already making good progress, but everything will be much better after Vietnam enters the World Trade Organization.
It will be a while before Viet graduates, but he already knows what he wants to do when he finishes Stanford.
“Personally I am still exploring what I am very interested in, but at least I know I want to make some social changes to improve people’s welfare. So I am interested in poverty, elevation and create jobs helping employment in Vietnam. So I am thinking about two careers prospect. One is to go to graduate school and get a PhD in development economic and I hope to work for the World Bank or the U-N or some big institution that can attract investments and help poverty elevation in Vietnam. The second option that I am thinking about I hope to work for some private sector or set up my own company that help international trade and create jobs in Vietnam, he says. “The reason why I hope to do something for Vietnam is because there are some many great and smart people in the U-S and there are many great people too in Vietnam, however I feel more privilege that I received this education at Stanford University and I have an opportunity to expose more to the international environment and I hope to contribute to the country especially to the economy aspect.”