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Japanese professor sets up scholarship fund for Vietnamese students

Sunday, February 19, 2017, 16:57 GMT+7

A septuagenarian Japanese professor has just established a scholarship fund worth almost US$45,000 for poor college and university students in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang.

Yoshiaki Takahashi, a 75-year-old professor from Chuo University in Tokyo, debuted his scholarship fund, amounting to VND1 billion ($44,020), in the city on Saturday.

He also picked Da Nang as a place to share his knowledge and gift his collection of 7,000 books to local students.

Takahashi had arrived at the Da Nang University of Economics on Friday to prepare for the introduction of the scholarship fund, accompanied by Dr. Trinh Thuy Huong, his interpreter who was previously his student.

The professor’s unconditional dedication to Da Nang first started 17 years ago, when he and Prof. Tran Van Nam, who was a lecturer at the Da Nang University of Technology at the time, met each other at an academic meeting.

“Prof. Takahashi was once a poor student himself so he is sympathetic to those who are in similar circumstances in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam,” Prof. Nam said.

Since his retirement in 2013, the Japanese academic has been offered well-paid positions at many schools in his home country.

“However, he chose Da Nang as his second home,” Nam said, adding that Takahashi makes frequent trips to the city on a yearly basis.

The elderly professor often spends one or two months every year volunteering at local universities while staying in a tenanted house in Son Tra District during the periods.

Da Nang has geographical features similar to his hometown’s in Japan, which is one of the reasons why the professor preferred the city as his second home.

Giving back to the community

Truong Phuong Tuyen, a student at the Da Nang University of Economics, could not hold back her tears after receiving the monthly support of VND1 million (US$44) from the professor yesterday.

“It’s a dream come true. I will use the grant to pay my tuition and support my mother and younger sister,” Tuyen said.    

Tuyen was among many other underprivileged students to receive scholarships from the Japanese professor.  

According to Prof. Takahashi, he thought of himself many decades ago upon looking at the Vietnamese scholarship recipients.

His father passed away when he was eight. His mother had to single-handedly raise five children.

At 18, Takahashi left his hometown for Tokyo to continue his high school education. Upon entering Chuo University, he had to work as a tutor to afford his education.

He was granted a monthly scholarship worth $500 since the age of 22 and managed to become a reputable scientist in Japan.

Given the abundant support in the past, the professor decided to establish the scholarship fund for Vietnamese students as a way to give back to the community.

Thanks to the devotion, the Japanese intellectual has become the first foreigner to be honored with the title of Professor Emeritus by the University of Da Nang.  

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