From a very shy girl having a fear of crowds, Dan Y Lien Hoa, a Khmer resident in southern Vietnam, made a dramatic change after five years to win over the Admissions Council at Fulbright University Vietnam (FUV).
The girl overcame many obstacles and prejudices to get accepted as a freshman at FUV.
Overcoming prejudices against girl’s education
Growing up in Phong Thanh Commune, Cau Ke District, in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh, Hoa was often told that women did not have to receive higher education as sooner or later they would get married and become housewives.
Local people in her hometown also generally assumed that only men have to go to work as they are the breadwinner of their families, Hoa recalled.
Five years ago, Hoa was extremely timid and suffered from a fear of crowds.
Back when she first visited the EVG community library in her hometown and met a group of Singaporean volunteers there for an English teaching project, Hoa burst into tears due to her fear of the crowd.
|To receive a scholarship for an undergraduate program at Fulbright University Vietnam, Dan Y Lien Hoa said she dedicated a lot of time to studying and researching. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre|
At the time, she had no idea why she had to learn English, thus she disliked all the English classes.
Van Anh, a local teacher who founded the EVG community library, encouraged Hoa to try working as a volunteer like her Vietnamese peers who accompanied the Singaporean delegation, apart from being an English learner.
When the project was nearing its end, Hoa finally managed to overcome her fear of crowds as she got a chance to speak in front of her international friends, sharing with them her Khmer culture.
Her English also made progress thanks to her time working with foreign friends.
Lessons learned from failure in FUV’s Priority Cycle
Despite her tremendous efforts, Hoa could not make it to the Priority Cycle of FUV because her English fell short of the university's requirements.
The unexpected result let her down.
During those gloomy days, her teachers and others working at the library were the ones that lifted her mood and told her to make a second attempt in the Spring Cycle.
Knowing that she was bad at listening skills, Hoa practiced listening to podcasts all day long to improve herself.
One time, when reading some reports about education, she was sad to learn that the Mekong Delta ranked third nationwide in terms of its dropout and early marriage rates.
Hoa joined the Interview Round, which takes place before the Spring Cycle, as a person full of aspirations.
|In her spare time, Dan Y Lien Hoa often reads and tells stories to local kids in her village. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre|
Hoa said that she would like to serve the community, open more classes for children when she is at university, gradually narrow the education gap between the urban and rural areas, and promote the Khmer culture, which is believed to be steadily sinking into oblivion.
She won over the FUV Admissions Council through her stories and such aspirations.
Desire to contribute to her hometown
Hoa chose to wear the Khmer traditional clothes on the day she participated in the Interview Round.
The girl told stories about the Khmer people to the Admissions Council in a confident manner.
As shared by Huynh Quang Hieu, an admissions staff member at FUV who interviewed Hoa, the girl aspired to step out of her comfort zone and break down stereotypes and prejudices in her residence.
This does not mean that she wanted to go beyond the limit to isolate herself from the community.
This girl wished to achieve success to serve the community and return home to contribute and give back to the community and those who have guided her.
|Dan Y Lien Hoa performs the traditional dance of the Khmer. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre|
According to Le Thi Quynh Tram, director of Admissions and Financial Aid at FUV, Hoa is like a perfect puzzle piece in a multi-hue picture at FUV as she has shown herself as a potential Fulbrighter with her solid knowledge background, teamwork, and a high capablity to adapt to an all-English environment.
Pham Van Anh, founder of the EVG community library, shared that Hoa is a diligent person.
She has a can-do spirit as well as great responsibility for her family and community.
“I believe she will advance further and bring more values to society,” Anh said.