ANH NU DIEU TRUONG WRITES – In recent days, given the seriousness of COVID-19, the majority of Vietnamese students who had been studying overseas decided to go back home for a sense of safety and family. All must undergo 14 days of isolation before returning to normal life.

Some, though, remain in the United States. The past few days, social media complaints have surfaced about quarantine conditions in Vietnam, describing it as  “really horrible,” warning “do not dare to touch anything” and advising that in reality, conditions are “unlike the [positive] reviews on YouTube.”

After reading these negative posts, a group of Vietnamese students decided to change this developing negative picture of Vietnamese students both overseas and upon returning home. And so, they  formed Pay It Forward by Vietnamese Student Abroad Program,  a community fundraising project to contribute to the “COVID-19 Anti-epidemic Fund” of the Central Committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front.

There are five principal people on the team:

  • Ky Duyen – American student studying at University of Texas
  • Bich Quan – American student studying at Fordham University – New York
  • Phuc Loc – former delegate of the Japan-East Asia Youth and Student Exchange Program (JENESYS) 2017
  • Vy Vo – American student who graduated from Baruch College and is currently living and working in two places, New York and
  • Phýõng Thanh – Swiss student studying at UBIS University Geneva

Additionally, there are mentors – young Vietnamese students who are studying and working abroad- an elite group, selected by the operation team on the basis of their applications, studies, career goals and ability to support participants’ needs. There are now  21 mentors and more coming. The goal is for mentees – students working in Vietnam who wish to study abroad and need help getting a scholarship, an exchange program or any other type of preparation for studying abroad – to get help and encouragement in pursuit of becoming international students.

With  a minimum donation of 200,000 VND per person (approximately $10) to this nonprofit, participant mentees have the opportunity to engage in 1:1 or  3- to 4-person virtual classes. Mentors share their foreign language learning experience and offer guidance for improving English proficiency [speaking, writing, reading, listening]. They may get help revising personal statements and/or scholarship applications as well as encounters with experienced people about the process of studying and working abroad.

There are many ways to join hands to fight the pandemic.  Pay It Forward is just one way to support the Vietnamese student community abroad.  It is hoped that the positive values the project brings will help diminish negative reviews and mistaken ideas about international students.


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