Hành trình du học - Bài viết cho Học bổng Fulbright 2007 - PERSONAL
In response to some requests, I decided to share the second essay in my application for
the Fulbright 2007 for your reference. The first one, study objectives, was posted in a
previous entry. April 4, 2008 is the deadline for applications for Fulbright 2009 to be
submitted. Hope that from now on until that date, all applicants can satisfactorily filled in
all the blanks in the application form to best describe him/herself and his/her ideals. This
essay does not embrace a model applicable to all but simply present an example of how
an essay of personal statement could be constructed along a set of requirements.
Requirement: This personal statement should be narrative statement describing how
you have achieved your current goals. It should not be a mere listing of facts. It should
include information about your education, practical experience, special interests, and
career plans. Describe any significant factors that have influenced your educational
or professional development. Comment on the number of years or practical experience
already completed in the field in which academic work will be done in the U.S.
Field of Studies: American Studies
When I was about to write this personal statement, I recalled a true story from my
childhood. Just one month after I was born, a special friend of my parents’, who was very
knowledgeable in astrology and physiognomy, visited my family. Watching me sleep like
a log in a cradle, she let it slip that I would become a statesman or an ambassador rather
than a technician or an engineer as my father had hoped.
I grew up and did not invested much hope in this prophesy because from primary school
to high school I excelled in math, physics, chemistry and other natural science subjects.
I was allergic to literature and foreign languages but I could spend a whole day long
confined to my room looking for the solution to a math problem. In 1995, my excellence
in math took me to the High School for Gifted Students in Mathematics and Informatics
in Hanoi, which brings together math talents from every corner of the country. At that
time I thought I would become a mathematician or an IT expert.
However, things have changed since my unintended talk with my friend’s uncle, Mr. A,
the chief negotiator of Vietnam on ..., in January 1998. His patriotism, his interesting
stories about negotiations, his sense of humor, sophisticated manners and common
courtesy awakened my desire to be someone like him. Especially, he opened my eyes to
brand new images of the United States and other countries in the world, which I had quite
often heard about but did not know well. That talk changed my life. I chose to follow my
schooling at the Institute for International Relations (IIR) instead of the Hanoi University
The change introduced a whole new experience, because my strength in math and other
natural sciences could not easily be brought into play in a new realm of social sciences
and foreign languages. However, despite many initial difficulties in learning English, I
have found a different, no less interesting world than the realm of mathematics. In this
new world problems, mainly related to behaviors of and relations among individuals,
social groups and nation-states, appear with many parameters, both constant and variable,
predictable as well as unpredictable, and cannot be solved with singular fixed solutions.
At the IIR, I had time and resources to satisfy my personal curiosity about the United
States. I have read many books about the American history, culture and people and
have had many opportunities to listen to and talk with various distinguished American
professors and politicians. I have been most impressed with the first Ambassador to
Vietnam Pete Peterson, Prof. Jack Snyder of Columbia University, Prof. Robert A.
Scalapino of University California at Berkeley, and David Lampton of Johns Hopkins
University. I soon came to realize that, throughout my undergraduate years, my personal
curiosity had developed into a strong academic interest in American Studies. That is the
reason why after graduation I happily accepted the offer to a voluntary post of research
assistant at the Center for European and American Studies.
In November 2003, I participated in two tough nation-wide competitions with the
Ministry of Trade (MOT) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) at the same time.
The results from MOT were received first, so I started working for the European and
American Department in January 2004. There, I was chosen to be an administrative
assistant to Mr. A whom I met before. He did not remember me, a little boy six years
ago, and now his colleague. However, at the end March 2004, I was informed that I
successfully passed the entry exam to MOFA. I stood at the crossroad. Which way should
I must say that working with Mr. A has been the most valuable experience that I have
ever had. I learned much from him, not only from his expertise but also from his working
enthusiasm and seriousness. MOT is a stimulating working environment with various
opportunities for young specialists to follow. However, my specialty was not economics
or trade policy. Finally, in the light of my academic interests, I decided to move to
Now, as a researcher and a lecturer at the IIR (MOFA), the country’s leading think-
tank in the field of external affairs at the service of Vietnamese leaders, I have set forth
clear goals to achieve. My professional goal is to become an expert in and a professor
of American studies. My ultimate career goal, as a diplomat, is to be an accredited
Vietnamese ambassador abroad. To this end, my first step will be to study in the United
States for two years in a relevant Master’s program to deepen my expertise and add to my
I am aware that these goals are grand, but not unrealistic. A Master’s degree is extremely
important for me now because it is a springboard for my career development. A long and
bumpy road is waiting ahead before the goals are achieved. But once I made up my mind,
I am determined to accomplish them no matter how hard it is. I strongly believe that I
will overcome it by my brainpower, my will power and a bit of luck.
(Total: 887 words)
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