Cultivating people across borders
15/11/2019

Cultivating people across borders

The sustainability of a nation must start from education. A good education is made by people. Vietnam’s former Prime Minister Pham Van Dong once said "Among noble jobs, teaching is the best", the teachers are those who carry the noble burden of responsibility, devoting their lives to grow a young ethical, talented and responsible generation which is the fundamental foundation for a prosperous country. Perhaps, the passion and nobility of the teaching career have motivated people of different skin colors and races to come to a faraway country and devote their enthusiasm to help young people in that country.

 Hearts for Vietnam

In a touristic city like Nha Trang, thousands of visitors come and leave every day. However, there are people who keep coming back countless times for a special purpose. In their hearts, Vietnam is like the second hometown. That is the story of 4 foreign teachers at Nha Trang University. They are people from 4 different countries: Australia, Norway, Iceland, USA but all love Vietnam and have had many years sticking with Nha Trang University. In the mind of staff and students of NTU - who fortunately have had chance to work with the teachers, they will never forget the care and support they have received. Because of these great contributions, in August 2019, the Minister of Education and Training, Vietnam signed the Decision to award the medal "Vi su nghiep giao duc” to recognize their outstanding contribution to the development of Vietnam education to 4 foreign teachers: Ms. Bronwyn Gaye Driscoll from National Volunteer Organization Australia (AVI); Prof. Claire Armstrong from Tromso University, Norway; Dr. Tumi Tómasson from the Fisheries Training Program - University of United Nations, Iceland and Prof. Curtis Jolly from Auburn University, USA.

 13 years with NTU

Prof. Curtis Jolly has turned 73 this year. He has had 13 years with NTU from the early years of implementing the International Master's Program in Economics and Fisheries Management - NOMA-FAME - thanks to the Norwegian governmental funding. He was one of the founders of the program, as well as participated in the teaching and tutoring dozens of NTU lecturers to complete the Master's program. In 2015, he continued to participate in many roles, and was a designer of the International Master's Program in Marine Ecosystem Management and Climate Change - a program of the NORHED project funded by the Norwegian Government. He also helped guide 4 lecturers to complete the PhD program, and co-worked with other lecturers to successfully publish 03 international monographs and 11 international articles. The professor shared research reports at seminars on sustainable development of marine resources, fisheries value chains, improving management capacity for farmers, etc. Currently, he keeps cooperating with NTU to carry out many joint training and research projects.

Prof. Curtis Jolly (green shirt) with the Norhed international students in a field trip to shrimp farm in Van Ninh, Khanh Hoa

A dedicated professor

Prof. Claire Armstrong started working with NTU from projects funded by the Norwegian Government. She has participated in developing, teaching and supervising Vietnamese and international students in all three cohorts of the International Master's Program in Marine Ecosystem Management and Climate Change. In the cohort 3, she guided a Namibian student to successfully defend a master's thesis with the highest score of the program so far. Sharing about her, the student said “Prof Claire has a wonderful interpersonal and communication skills. She was very helpful and supported me throughout the course of my thesis writing. Her uncommon scientific knowledge, despite her busy schedule, provided timely feedbacks and correction to my thesis, making it a useful library and reference material. She really showed us (students) continuous support in our master study and research, she is patient, enthusiastic, and very exemplary when it comes to the immense knowledge in science-work. I could not have imagined having a better advisor and mentor for my master study”. The project “Incorporating climate change into ecosystem approaches to fisheries and aquaculture management in Sri Lanka and Vietnam” in which she is the coordinator from Norwegian side, supervising NTU lecturers in doctoral and postdoctoral research programs. Prof. Claire is also the co-author of 4 international papers with NTU lecturers.

Prof. Claire (middle green shirt) with the Norhed students

A silent contributor

31 is the number of scholarships for short-term, doctoral and master’s programs that Dr. Tumi Tomasson has mobilized to grant to the University's lecturers and staff, not to mention the times he made available sponsorships for  faculties to carry out field surveys, participate in international conferences, and organize short-term training courses and symposiums ... Sharing about Dr. Tumi, Dr. Mai Thi Tuyet Nga - Deputy Head of Faculty of Food Technology said “Tumi is a very happy and optimistic person. He has a special affection for Vietnam in general and our University in particular, so he facilitated training for lecturers. Dr. Tumi also actively connected organizations inside and outside Iceland to cooperate with the University and the Faculty, support staff to participate in projects, and help the Faculty successfully collaborate with an Iceland company to co-organizing training courses for Vietnamese pangasius businesses”. She recalled her most memorable memories with him when she was interviewed for a training course in Iceland “At that time, my child was just an infant and he seriously cared about that. He asked if my leaving might affect my child, and if I have someone help me take care of the baby. I felt that he is such a kind and caring person.”

Dr. Tumi – the representative of United Nations University, signed a MoU with NTU

8 years and 3 times back

Unlike the three other lecturers who have had long time working in educational environment, Ms. Bronwyn, who we call Bronnie is an Australian volunteer. She joined the Australian Volunteers International (AVI) and came to Vietnam to work as a volunteer English teacher at the Faculty of Foreign Languages, NTU. NTU usually has foreign teachers come to teach English for some periods at the University to improve students’ language proficiency. When Ms. Bronnie’s first volunteer period ended, she and her husband returned to Australia. However, her love for Vietnam and her desire for helping students urged her to return to Vietnam, continuing to work as a volunteer teacher. She lives in the city and walks to the University daily to teach English and English for tourism subjects, as well as co-organizing extracurricular activities for students. She helped connect with St John Ambulance Australia to train first aid for free for 800 students of the Faculty of Foreign Languages. With her tall, willowy figure, vivacious personality, playful voice, she is students’ favorite. “Ms. Bronnie is the most effective and active volunteer teacher that the Faculty has ever had” said Dr. Vo Nguyen Hong Lam, Head of the Faculty of Foreign Languages.

Ms. Bronnie is in an English class with students

On the occasion of the 37th anniversary of Vietnamese Teachers' Day - November 20, 2019, the noble medals “Vi su nghiep giao duc” will be officially awarded to 4 foreign teachers. Due to distance and time, it is not possible to have the presence of all 4 teachers. The awards and recognition will be announced to all NTU leaders, faculties, and students on this day so we all knowabout passionate and dedicated teachers who tirelessly devote their talents and enthusiasm to share knowledge and evoke dreams for young people who live in a country on the other side of the hemisphere.