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College of Wooster Student Ambassador program: Profile of Bao Nguyen

Bao Ngyen is a young College of Wooster sophomore who hails from rural Dalat and is an ambassador for the College of Wooster's Student Ambassador program.

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Bao Nguyen is a petite, shy, young College of Wooster student, but when it comes to her home country of Vietnam, it’s hard to match her enthusiasm.
 
"I love collecting unique stories and telling my own," she said.
 
Ngyen said that behind Vietnam's magnificent sceneries is a hidden cultural beauty that still needs to be explored.
 
"Vietnam, in my eyes, is a land of long-lasting traditions, fascinating mysteries and continued conflicts," she said.
 
The College of Wooster sophomore, who hails from rural Dalat, is an ambassador for the College of Wooster's Student Ambassador program. She gives presentations to various schools and community groups in Wooster about her native Vietnam.
 
Ngyen has one brother in Vietnam and is the only speaker of English in her family.
 
"I majored in English in a high school for the gifted while studying 13 subjects in total," she said.
 
Nguyen said she was originally interested in psychology as a field of study coming out of high school but was discouraged by all her advisors.
 
"They only recommended study in technology or economics," she said.
 
The reason for this, Nguyen explained, is psychology is not yet recognized as a valid area of study in a country that still treats matters of the mind and behavior in largely only religious and spiritual contexts.
 
So Nguyen went off to HoChiMin City, the economic capital of Vietnam, to begin to study economics.
 
"I told my advisor there that I wanted to study psychology, and she also told me I'd have no job," Nguyen said.
 
The advisor told her perhaps she could study medicine, and then after that she could still pursue psychology if she was still determined.
 
Undaunted, Nguyen began researching colleges for scholarships in neuroscience.
 
"Fortunately I found the College of Wooster offered scholarships in the field," she said, adding that she was impressed by the college's reputation for research and the sciences.
 
Nguyen said the College of Wooster contacted her about attending. "That really made an impression on me, that they contacted me first," she said.
 
Nguyen said her decision to attend the College of Wooster has been a good one. "The professors are the smartest, kindest people I've ever known," she said.
 
Nguyen said that in Vietnam you don't get the opportunity for mentorship or friendship that you get in America. "I've made a lot of good friends, and everyone is so welcoming," she said.
 
Nguyen said she finds the same dynamic in making her presentations throughout the community of Wooster. "Everyone is so eager to learn, and I am so eager to tell all about my country," she said.
 
Nguyen makes a number of different presentations. "Planting Trees, Planting Life" is about the fight against climate change. The reforestation policy of Vietnam's government has brought environmental benefits but a negative impact on people's livelihood. This presentation explores the relationship between the government's response to climate change and the impact it has had on various ethnic minority communities.
 
Nguyen said the government of Vietnam has encouraged planting of trees in the name of reforestation to battle climate change. But there is a problem.
 
"The kinds of trees they are planting grow very fast and can be replanted easily, but these trees degrade after 10 years. After all the trees are planted, the people then lose their livelihood. The young have to migrate to sweatshops, and the old have nothing to do," she said.
 
Nguyen said the reforestation affects underground biodiversity and water in a negative way.
 
"NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) are trying to teach everyone affected how to work together," Nguyen said. "This is the sort of thing I support."
 
Her presentation, "Are You in for Street Food?," is about the "remix version" of Pho, which is called Pho Cuon. It's a whole different world of taste where listeners can learn about the ins and outs of street food in Vietnam including how to know if street food is not safe for consumption.
 
"Ms. Beauty Pageant and Mr. President of Vietnam" is about how the youth are the future of any country, but the youngest generation in Vietnam is having less and less interest in the government's politics. Listeners can find out why and what Vietnam plans to do about it.
 
"Respect the Elderly, Tolerate the Young" explores a deep-rooted tradition presented by an age-old Vietnamese folk proverb, “Respect the elderly and tolerate the young.” Listeners can learn how this proverb, when viewed in a modern context, is raising many questions in Vietnam today.
 
Nguyen said she enjoys making her presentations to her college contemporaries and the Wooster community at large.
 
"I always learn as much from them as they do from me," she said. "And I get the chance to hone my presentation skills with my advisors after the presentations."
 
As for what Nguyen sees herself doing 10 years from now, she said, "I have a lot of things in my head. One thing I'd like to do is research how pesticides affect the brains of children."
 
Nguyen also loves playing instruments, performing Vietnamese traditional dance and hiking.
 

Published: February 9, 2018
New Article ID: 2018180209962