Bui Anh Quang, 24, once failed his university entrance exam. But he didn't let that stop him from becoming a successful youth leader with many achievements to his credit, including spearheading the organisation of last year's Global Leadership Activating Day (GLAD) in Ha Noi. He talks to Hai Yen about what he learned from his experiences.
Inner Sanctum: Your confidence and professionalism impressed everyone who met you when you were the head of the organisation board of GLAD (Global Leadership Activating Day). Few would guess that you failed the entrance exam to university.
I'm now a student of FPT University. You must have met me when I was wearing a formal suit. I pay special attention to my clothing when I work with partners. I consider it diplomatic. However, my family is not well-off. My parents are civil servants. When I was attending school, I was listed among the best students, but I was not lucky in exams, and was often sick.
When I learned that I had failed the entrance exam to university, I hugged my sister and cried a lot. She had studied and worked to support my study, but I my failure disapointed her. It was such a huge shock to me.
I kept thinking and decided to start everything over again. I continued to revise for the next entrance exam, and passed two university exams the following year: Ha Noi University of Business and Technology and FPT University. I decided to choose the latter, hoping that there would be more opportunities and that I could confirm myself.
Inner Sanctum: Did the pressure of confirming yourself lead to the success of the clip, Mot Phut Su That (One Minute of Truth) among Vietnamese youth? The clip won first prize in a competition for short film projects.
I set my own goals and actively participated in many educational programmes to become considered an active student. This helped me earn good marks to get a scholarship and work part-time to earn extra money. I have managed several roles, including media collaborator, writing articles and producing short student films.
In 2011, I enrolled in the film project Mot Phut Su That conducted by Viet Nam Television. Once as I passed by Hoan Kiem Lake, I saw an old blind woman huddled up selling tea in the freezing weather. I was told that she had four children, one of whom was blind, one handicapped, one always sick and the fourth had died.
I spent a whole week making friends and talking with her, then started to record her daily activities. It took me two days to capture her daily struggle on film. I burst into tears whenever I reviewed the clip.
Actually, she preferred that I did not film her, because she did not want to seek charity. I persuaded her and decided to participate in the competition, hoping that someone would be able to help her. Fortunately, my clip won first prize, and I gave her my VND2 million (US$100) prize money.
After that, my passion for film started to grow. I participated in making more films and was invited to participate in several other film projects to nurture young talent.
Inner Sanctum: From film producers to young leader, what leadership skills do you think you have learned?
Whenever doing something, I always think of gaining more experience for my curriculum vitae. The shock of failing that first entrance exam to university kept me on my toes. Hoping to gain more experience, I decided to apply for a part-time job heading the foreign department of the Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales (AIESEC) or International Associations of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences, the world's largest student organisation, which is based at the Foreign Trade University in Ha Noi.
In March, 2012, I became team leader for a project called Action for Viet Nam Heritage, which aimed to popularise Viet Nam's tourism and raise youth awareness of environmental protection. My team has 100 members, 25 of them are foreigners. The differences in languages, cultures, customs and ways of thinking have been a great challenge.
The experience has given me a more mature understanding of my partners, especially their culture, working manner and ways of thinking.
Many young people wonder what leadership skills are. In my opinion, those skills are based on self-development. Only when you can manage yourself, you can lead others.
In 2012, I also participated in a scheme run by the Viet Nam Assistance for the Handicapped. It set out to find jobs for more than 600 handicapped people from many provinces.
Inner Sanctum: How important are self-development skills to youth?
All youths should be aware of the importance of those skills. The most important thing is motivation. For example, the desire to study abroad encourages the need to learn English well. In my opinion, each youth should take part in many programmes and shouldn't be "picky". Each scheme can offer different experiences that help you develop and gain maturity.
Inner Sanctum: Faith in the career paths they have chosen and employment are often topics of discussion among youth. How do you feel?
It's often said that youth need to gather enough knowledge to analyse and gain necessary skills to overcome any crisis. Most are so afraid of being unemployed that often rush in to find a job instead of waiting for the right position. — VNS