I think that's really what BBW is all about - promise and possibilities - envisioning a future and lubricating the wheels to get these young adults rolling. Helping them have courage and faith in themselves.
On this trip we took some important steps in that direction. We brought six high school kids - Lan, My Ty, Hue, Nghiem, Tan and Tan along with one of the nannies, Mrs Hoa to Saigon. The children range between 15 and 18 years old and our goal was to help them be able to envision college life - and believe it is theirs for the taking with their hard work and our support.
We took them to visit two very different examples of college life. We let them see the possibilities first hand.
The first was Ton Duc Thang University where Son Trinh is finishing his first year in computer science. It's a new, state of the art university with facilities to rival any American university. We were given an in depth tour by the Director of Student Affairs, Nguyen Van Bac, and were impressed by the beauty of the facilities and by the goals of expansion and national status that the school has set forth to accomplish in the very near future. We visited several departments- such as electrical engineering, fashion design and hospitality management. As we explored, we could see our kids connecting and curious when we were in an area of interest to them. At the end of our visit I asked Son Trinh if he was happy and he said " Yes I am happy." Then he paused, turned, and with a huge smile said "I am so very happy." When we parted he said to all of us - BBW members and the other children " Goodbye my family" and I believe he meant it . He went back to study for his last final.
The second university is HCMUTE (Ho Chi Minh University of Technology and Education) which Phap attends. He has completed year two of his program and expects to graduate in 2019. Phap, filled with pride, gave us a great tour. This university had a different feel it to it. Both schools have over 20 thousand students. Son Trinh's is more formal and modern. Phap's school is 60 years old. It's low rise not high rise. It has welcoming narrow streets running between buildings rather than the beautiful marble we found at Ton Duc Thang University. It has old trees and well worn doors and a warm inviting feel. It has charming outdoor study areas rather that indoor study areas with air conditioning. We were shown impressive student built technology projects- like robots and smart phone operated green houses. We found both environments compelling and appealing. We found students and faculty at both schools warm and of course curious about us. The campuses were diverse enough that it allowed our visiting students a chance to see the variety in university life.
I wish I knew what was going on the the minds and hearts the the six children we toured with. Were they inspired? Intimidated? Could they envision themselves achieving this for themselves or did it seem too big to attain? Do they want it? So much we can't get at with our language constraints. All we can do is our best to let them know doors can be opened, wheels can turn and we are there - with your help - to support what ever choice seems right to them.