MPP Student's Welcome Speech for the Convocation 2021-2022
October 23, 2021

MPP Student's Welcome Speech for the Convocation 2021-2022

October 23, 2021

As the first words, I’d like to send the warmest greetings to distinguished guests, faculty members and MPP23 students. I am Ngo Nguyen Thao Vy, a member of MPP22 and it is my honor to represent my cohort to join our Convocation Day and welcome incoming students to the tamarind community at Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management, Fulbright University Vietnam.

Some of you might wonder who I am and what is special about me to be chosen to speak in this ceremony. Some might have recognized me through my Facebook posts about FSPPM. In some brief words about myself, I’d not dare to mention my academic achievements which are modest compared to my peers or social contributions which is insignificant compared to the great efforts by social activists or faculty members and MPP students who join us today. One small feat at FSPPM which I take pride in is the fact that I am frequently the last one who leaves the school when all light in the campus is turned off and the only illuminating source is that radiates from my laptop and smartphone.

Why I love FSPPM so much? Or am I too obsessed with deadlines? These are some questions I ask myself, gazing at the glistening lake under the night lamps and bright moon during my late nights at school. At these pauses, I smiled since the answer is already obvious: Fulbright is the dream of youth and Fulbright is worth all the best of my youth to behold and strive for.

Since my childhood, my mom told me stories about a Southern intellect with great candor, warmth, and persistent beliefs in his values. 20 years later, I am honored to meet him in person as a Fulbright faculty. After college graduation and in YSEALI summer course at Fulbright, for the first time, I’ve been through sleepless nights working and studying and yet remained motivated and energetic in the next mornings attending excellent lectures by Fulbright faculty. In my first full-time job, by accident, I worked for a company whose founder has made lifetime commitment to sponsor Fulbright University Vietnam and my direct supervisor is an FSA alumnus. When I decided to return and work as a lecturer at the law university, one of my colleagues is also an FSPPM graduate. And now, I am much honored to be an FSPPM student.

Those persons, directly or indirectly, nurtured the Fulbright DNA in me naturally. They leave me with beautiful impressions and valuable life lessons and opportunities for me to join, learn and contribute to this community. And I believe many MPP23 have been inspired to pursue your Fulbright dream by alumni who have gathered into a nationwide network, upholding unique values developed during their time at Fulbright. Of course, these values can’t be formed in comfortable settings. We can only grow strong by confronting absurdities. To the new cohort, I confirm that Fulbright maintains the heat of its holding environment at highest degree by shoving you into various challenges in the coming year. At some days in the next semester, you will take over my title as being the last one who leaves the school and certainly with academic achievements surpassing mine.

Similar to my cohort, soon some of you might ask for more challenges from faculty members, feeling that the learning pressure is not yet up to your expectations. And some might feel lost and leaving is an option that you start considering. From my experiences, the second case is more of a norm; otherwise, Fulbright is not as it is known. However, during these desperate moments, more than ever, you strongly feel the dedication of the lecturers and teaching assistants who are willing to pull the night with you to support, as well as your classmates who accompany and shake up your spirits to meet the deadlines that appear impossible at first (as long as that help is permissible by the school’s code of conduct).

You do not find knowledge only from the faculty members in lecture halls. At Fulbright, anybody can have stories that you can learn from. I myself learn a great deal from all people I meet at Fulbright. I learn about academic integrity and honesty from a young researcher. I learn about relentless advocacy for minorities groups from a female activist. I also learn about protecting social values during crisis from a senior alumnus working in NGO, the fearless spirit of a true leader navigating her firms over turbulence during COVID-19, the entrepreneurial spirits of a young manager and the committed service for peace and goodness of a priest. In light of these encounters, I understand diversity is an asset of Fulbright. Policy makers must not consider their work as offering support or assistance, indicating a superior or equal status to those you are helping. Public policy should be viewed as service by placing the community higher than your own sake.

Probably, during the trying periods, you might face with the question whether to compromise your personal and our school’s values for immediate purposes or commit an accidental error. We practitioners in international law are all familiar with a Latin “mantra”, which is also the core principle of the international law - “pacta sunt servanda”, meaning “all treaties shall be complied with in good faiths”. Or as Mr. Do Thien Anh Tuan, who is named by our class “national teacher”, puts it “you are required and obliged to preserve and promote Fulbright culture, not bending it to serve your personal goals.” That is our commitment to community service, fairness, transparency, and inclusiveness. These values will be nurtured in Fulbright incubator so that you have adequate firmness to redefine your sector or organizations with these merits after graduation. While adulthood is signaled by the courage to acknowledge and correct our wrongdoings, for public policy students, from my personal perspective, this is not enough. You need to understand why things go wrong and help others to avoid the trap and direct them towards the good deeds.

Some of my words to you. I’d like to end my talk with a small card I draw by my humble artistic skills as a wish from MPP22 students to FSPPM and the new cohort. Welcome the diligent bees of MPP23 to the busy beehive. Underneath the tamarind tree, try your best to conquer the challenges and deadlines at 8:20 a.m. Upon completion, the honey of success is totally worth your efforts and hard work. Why I choose the image of a bumble bee for this picture? A French scientist, Antoine Magnan, found out that aerodynamically, the body of a bumble bee is too heavy as compared to its wings for it to fly. As you know, these bees refuse to give in their physical limits and keep hovering over flowers for honey. And different from the mosquitoes or the flies, the bees spread their positive values everywhere they fly through.

I’d like to end my speech here. I wish distinguished guests, faculty members, staff and MPP23 students a new school year with success and health. Thank you for listening.

Ngo Nguyen Thao Vy


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