San Francisco, June 26, 2008 — Today, The Asia Foundation welcomed three winners of a nationwide English essay contest conducted last year for Vietnamese students by the Foundation and The National Library of Vietnam. These young “cultural ambassadors” will embark on a 10-day visit to three U.S. cities. The contest was open to Vietnamese students between the ages of 18-22 and each candidate was asked to express his or her hopes for Vietnam’s future. The winning essays provide a rich portrait of the expectations of Vietnamese youth, and the visit will give Americans a better understanding of modern-day Vietnam.
The cultural ambassadors are Ms. Nguyen Do Thuy Anh, a student at Vietnam National University in Hanoi, Ms. Pham Thuy Tien, a student at Ho Chi Minh City National University, and Ms. Than Nguyen Thuy Linh, a student at the University of Danang. The visit begins in the San Francisco Bay Area, continues to North Carolina, and ends in Washington, D.C. with a focus on civic engagement among American youth and their participation in the political, social and cultural spheres in their communities.
During their visit, the participants will gain a sense of the issues and concerns that are important to American college students, such as economic opportunities, cultural identity, and the environment. At the same time, the role of new media and technology will be examined. The program will also explore pluralism in American society, and the distinctive cultural identity of different regions in the nation.
The ambassadors will meet with Americans peers on university campuses and in grassroots organizations. They will have opportunities to observe political activities related to the 2008 presidential election, social services including serving a meal at a homeless shelter, visit institutions such as National Geographic Society and the Library of Congress, and attend various cultural events, such as the Fourth of July celebrations held in the nation’s capital. The three students will also enjoy home stays with American families to allow for a more holistic experience and a deeper understanding of the diversity of American life and culture, while allowing American families the opportunity to learn more about Vietnam.
Essays were judged by the National Library of Vietnam’s network of provincial libraries and regional committees. The ambassadors will be accompanied by the Director of the National Library, a Vietnamese professor of American Studies, and a Foundation staff member.
Upon their return to Vietnam, these cultural ambassadors will discuss their experiences in the United States, their impressions of American culture and society, and the impact the trip has had on them at a press conference to be held in Hanoi. Finally, the ambassadors will each give a presentation at the provincial libraries to their home communities.