Phan Tram Anh, 21, a third-year student at the National Economics University, has been chosen from a pool of 3,200 Vietnamese students to represent Viet Nam and join the United Nations Alliance of Civilisation and Education's first summer school programme in New York. She speaks to Ha Nguyen about how this came about.
Inner Sanctum: Can you introduce yourself?
I'm studying finance at the National Economics University. I was recently chosen as the Vietnamese representative to attend the summer school being held by United Nations of Civilisation (UNAOC), and EF Education First - International Education Centre.
Inner Sanctum: What help and encouragement did you get from your family, particularly your mother?
My family is my inspiration and my mother's support has always been a motivation for me to try harder in life. She is my idol. My dad passed away when I was five years old. My mom has had to be both a mother and a father. Raising two kids alone is definitely not easy. She has tried as hard as she could at home, taking care of and educating my sister and me, and being a good editor and journalist at the Hai Phong Television Station.
I am so impressed with her energy, bravery and determination. She has always been energetic and brave in facing a problem, and has tried to deal with them with her wisdom. Nothing can defeat her easily. I will never forget her words, "You have to try your best to really know how hard the problem is."
Her character and challenges in life have made her a strong woman. But she handles everything very well, stands firm when she is outside, and is emotional when she is with her children.
Like our mother, my sister and I have always been tough and strong. We always try to overcome our problems ourselves, and believe everything is possible as long as we try hard and have faith. My sister, with her talent, inspiration, skill and diligence, has been a model for me to look up to and study from.
My mother and my sister encouraged me a lot to apply for the summer school, though it was a very tough competition, saying I should try my utmost.
Thanking them, I felt much stronger and braver in dedicating my effort and time to filling the application form of the summer school.
Inner Sanctum: How did you come to know about the UNAOC-EF Summer School 2015?
I came to know about UNAOC-EF Summer School 2015 by joining a group of students that shared useful information and opportunities. When I read the purpose and how the summer school operates, I immediately felt it fitted my objectives. So I tried my best to complete the application form and I was chosen.
Inner Sanctum: What was your essay's subject? Could you tell us in detail about the essay that helped you beat 3,200 young Vietnamese and be chosen to attend the summer school?
I sent three essays.
The first was about personal experience of issues related to the UNAOC mandate and how this affected my work. In this essay, I wrote about the incident of China moving its Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil platform to operate on Viet Nam and how this violation affected Vietnamese people, and my perception of sovereignty of my country. I also mentioned how this incident changed my work as a student, the generation who is about to take control of their life and of their country.
The second was about international events or programmes I have participated in or were related to my work and the work of UNAOC and EF. When I was a high school student, I represented my city in a programme called One LENS in New York. This programme was held to give ASEAN high school students opportunities to study about the media and learn how to make a useful public service announcement. It was also a chance for me to explore American cultures. In this essay, I wrote about my experiences of participating in the programme, how I handled the difficulties I faced, and how the programme changed me in a positive way.
The third was about my expectations of how the summer school would impact my professional and community activity and my plans after the summer school. In this essay, I shared my belief of how the summer school would change me, from being a student to a more knowledgeable and responsible person who understands international issues, and what I expected to learn from the programme. I also shared my plan of co-operating with my friends in establishing a youth group called "International Youth Community", where they can share the opportunities of international events and feelings and thoughts about worldwide problems, through which they can become more responsible about the world.
Inner Sanctum: What do you think about the opportunity that you've won?
For me, the opportunity is priceless. I believe my participation in the summer school will definitely change my perception and attitude towards international issues, and I will become a more knowledgeable person who can understand and contribute to solving the problems of my country, my region and the world. The knowledge I receive from experts and other international friends, and the new network of talented young people will be a turning point in my life.
Inner Sanctum: Could you tell us the aim of the UNAOC-EF course?
The goals of the summer school are to increase intercultural understandings among youth from several countries, and to promote co-operation among nations.
It aims to create opportunities for young people to meet, exchange knowledge and build skills and allow capacity building for youth to participate in the preparation and implementation of a joint action between separate communities.
Under the theme of Youth for Change, I will join 74 other young leaders from various countries to exchange views on global challenges such as diversified cultures and climate change.
Inner Sanctum: What issues will you bring up for discussion at the school, and why?
I want to share my thoughts on some problems, of which I have good understanding. They are problems of gender inequality and climate change.
Gender inequality is a problem that not many people can see or think as a serious issue. However, it is a deep-rooted problem and is a consequence of feudalism. As a female, I can see the problems more clearly and want my gender to have equality. After watching my mother overcome all her problems, dealing with everything very well, and being accomplished both at work and at home, I believe women can do even better than men. There is no reason for women to be discriminated against. That's why I want to share this thought with other participants to know how large this problem is in their country, how it has been solved, and to find a way to change youth's perception of this issue.
Climate change is an international issue that will be discussed at the summer school. For this reason, I have brushed up my knowledge about Viet Nam's current climate change situation. I want to hear ideas on the problem from my international friends, and how they deal with the problem in their country. We'll together find ways to reduce the speed of climate change all over the world. — VNS