The Ireland/Vietnam IDEAS Programme

Ambition to know the world

I grew up in the highland countryside of Vietnam in a family of six children in the time when Vietnam just opened the gate to the world. At that moment, our need was at the basic level of having enough food and clothes.  As a single parent, though my father was struggling to feed us, he still thought big about our future to work extremely hard for our education.  I was impacted strongly by his tenacious effort that not only helped me to have a good education in Vietnam, but also trained me to have a strong will to pursue higher education and open my world.

By the fact that graduating from a university in Vietnam could ensure a job in Vietnam, but it is not enough to gain a chance to know about the world.  I first came to Ireland in 2009 for one-week training programme called Foundation to Leadership with Lucca Leadership where I met young people from around the world.  Through this programme, I learnt about Irish history from the ancient time in Newgrange to the conflict transfer into peace in Derry, which gave me an overview of how the Irish overcame difficulties to develop the country.  This experience gave me a different view of Vietnam and a passion to contribute for my country.  One week was enough for an overview, but it was not enough for a learning experience.

Bound to meet IDEAs Programme

That’s why I wished to come back Ireland and I hoped to have a chance to learn more about the Irish development experience.  Fortunately, my purpose was bound up with the purpose of the IDEAS (The Irish Aid Development Experience and Sharing) scholarship programme. After four months of hard MBA application, I accomplished to be one of ten students who received a full scholarship from the IDEAS programme (Irish Aid), which grants full scholarships for students who have a good combination of academic qualifications, work experience and promising contribution to Vietnam.

Coming to Ireland

We have been taken care of by both the UCD Smurfit SchoolIrish Aid, and Irish Council for International Students.  From the moment we landed in the Dublin airport, the representatives stayed right outside to welcome us warmly. Then, the School as well as ICOS also arranged for us a one-week schedule to know about the school and the life in Dublin.

After one week of recovering from jet lag and exploring Dublin, we had two weeks to study Advanced Academic English and Irish Society.  These two weeks did not only help us to prepare to go back-to-school in a different language and at a higher level, but also prepared us for the Irish culture, society and history.  The preparation was to help us overcome a culture shock when we came from quite a different culture.

Even though we were both well prepared and excited for our one year back-to-school in Ireland, studying in the second-language was going to be a challenge.  We’ll see how wonderful this year is through stories written in blogs by my fellows.

– Tham Nguyen

Tham Nguyen IDEAS Scholar