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The deserts of the Middle East are a long way from tropical Vietnam, in both geographical and cultural terms. Yet European International School Ho Chi Minh City (EIS) Class of 2019 graduate Khoa Tran is relishing his new environment at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) where he was offered a scholarship of USD 300,000. Khoa also received scholarships for Grades 11 and 12 at EIS.
Studying Law and French, he has also thrown himself into a dizzying array of activities, showing a determination to seize every possible opportunity during his time abroad.
He has participated as a delegate at several international conferences and forums, co-launched a tech startup, organized an educational exchange between Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and the Ras Al Khaimah education zone (where NYUAD is located), works as a translator and editor for an environmental publishing company, mentors several students in their final year of high school back in Vietnam, and is currently undertaking three internships.
Khoa with Mr. Francois Hollande, former President of France.
"I have had a wonderful university experience,” Khoa said, “and NYUAD provides me with a lot of opportunities for growth and professional development. Compared to the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme, the university's curriculum is less intensive and opens more free time for me to conduct internships and volunteer.”
However, Khoa doesn’t recommend other students take the same sort of workload, admitting that his whirlwind of commitments can have its stressful moments. Yet he also knows the value of these experiences to help him achieve his dream of returning to Vietnam and becoming a social entrepreneur.
Khoa with a friend in Abu Dhabi
He also identified certain skills he developed at EIS that have helped him thrive so far in tertiary education. “I have to say that the IB curriculum is very challenging and rewarding, and the three most important skills I have learned are research writing, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary thinking,” he said.
“At NYUAD, my work revolves a lot around research and analysis of critical and controversial international problems. My experience with EIS and IB has helped me become more familiar with the context.”
He added that Theory of Knowledge (TOK) also had made a major contribution to his university life. “Since NYUAD concentrates on class discussion as a prominent teaching method, TOK helps me think critically in terms of knowledge acquisition and perspectives analysis across disciplines.”
A meeting between Vietnam Ministry of Education and Ras Al Khaimah. Khoa is at the second from the left.
However, not everything Khoa has learned has been in the classroom or at a conference, just experiencing a new culture and surrounded by new people has been eye-opening. "Coming to Abu Dhabi has been interesting but challenging, and this Middle East experience has broken a lot of stereotypes I had about Muslims and the Arab world,” he said. “I have to learn and adapt to a new country and its culture but still, UAE is a very diverse country and the residents speak English very well so it’s not a big problem.”
Khoa also credited his Model UN experience at EIS for helping prepare him for some of the forums he has attended, but ever the one to favour action over just words, he had another piece of advice for EIS students. “Do not stop at a draft resolution at the Model UN or argue or discuss with others on environmental issues and then go home. Collecting trash from a beach for one hour is much more impactful than an hour arguing at the Model UN without subsequent actions.”
Khoa is clearly a young man with grand ambitions, and if his first year of university is anything to go by, he has the abundant energy to see these ambitions come to fruition.
EIS has offered scholarships to worthy students since 2014, and this year EIS continues to offer scholarship opportunities to students who demonstrate exceptional academic performance and a commitment to community service. Many students who received EIS Merit Scholarships are accepted into top universities around the world, often receiving additional scholarships.
Please contact Admissions Department for more information.
Tel: (+84 28) 7300 7257
(Article published on Thanh Nien Online)