September 18, 2008 — The three winners of the “Search for Cultural Ambassadors” contest–Ms. Nguyen Do Thuy Anh, Ms. Than Nguyen Thuy Linh, and Ms. Pham Thuy Tien–were awarded a 10-day trip to the U.S., with stops in San Francisco, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. The contest was a joint collaboration between The Asia Foundation and the National Library of Vietnam. Candidates aged 18-22 participated in a nationwide English essay contest and were asked to express their hopes for Vietnam’s future in 1,000 words or less.
The visit, which began in late June, focused on civic engagement among American youth and provided opportunities for the young women to meet with their American peers at university campuses and grassroots organizations, observe youth political activities around the 2008 presidential elections, and participate in social service programs. They also visited national institutions, attended cultural events, and experienced home stays with American families. Upon their return to Vietnam, these cultural ambassadors shared their experiences in the United States and their impressions of American culture and society through presentations in the capital and in their home communities. Kim Ninh, Country Representative for The Asia Foundation in Vietnam, said, “I am particularly struck by the insistence of hope that permeates not only these three essays, but also most of the essays in the competition.”