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24/03/2021 - 14:24

“I will return to help my country”

“I will return so that my children would be close to their grandparents and I will do something for Hue”, a message from Le Huu Dien Khue, a researcher of the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation, surprised me...

Dr. Ha Viet Hai, Head of Scientific Research and International Cooperation Department of Hue University of Education, Deputy Director of INSA Center Val de Loire, teaching his students. Photo: Huu Phuc

Success far away from home

More than 10 years ago, Le Huu Dien Khue and Nguyen Thien Nhan were the first two students caught in the eyes of the Rencontres du Vietnam Association, which supports students with outstanding academic achievements to attend the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées (INSA) Center Val de Loire in France. 

At that time, Khue was very puzzled. Being farmers in Phu Da (Phu Vang), his parents worked very hard to save money for their child to study at Quoc Hoc Hue high school. Then, leaving his parents behind to come to France, by himself, to study engineering, Khue was happy, but felt worried at the same time.

In a foreign country with a lot of strange things, his French was not good enough, meanwhile the program was heavy, but in the first year, Nhan and Khue outperformed 70 excellent students from other countries, Khue ranked first, and Nhan eighth.

Khue smiled gently, reminiscing: “At first, I could not understand the teacher’s lecture at all. I had to borrow notes from fellow French students, then used the dictionary to look up new words. I loved interacting with French friends as well as participating in extracurricular activities, so my French improved quite rapidly.”

Through hard times and hard work, at the age of 30, Khue completed his PhD in Computer Science and became Head of the Artificial Intelligence Department of a French start-up company. Later on, Khue became a researcher of the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (Inria). 

From 2007 to 2009, eight more students from Hue were able to attend various famous French schools with the support from the Rencontres du Vietnam Association. Many have received the Eiffel scholarship, the most prestigious scholarship from the French Government for exceptional international students.

Mr. Do Trinh Hue, Head of the Vallet Scholarship Coordination Committee in Vietnam, said: “Some students could not follow their originally chosen major, but they were supported and helped by fellow Vietnamese students and went on to other majors that suit them most. Consequently, they became engineers, doctors; and held many key positions in their respective fields in France."

“Don’t forget where you come from”

Having a liking to Vietnamese students who are smart and hard-working, many famous rectors in France have asked Professor Tran Thanh Van, Chairman of the Rencontres du Vietnam Association to send more students to France to study. Every year, France trains about 300 foreign students in the fields such as Applied Mathematics, Electronics, Mechanics, Mechatronics, Informatics, Systems Engineering, etc... but Vietnam is favoured to have as many as 20 students.

Thus, the training method has also been changed. The students would be trained at Hue University of Education for two years before going to France to continue their third year. At the moment, the students of Quoc Hoc High School, Hue accounts for over 50% of the program vacancy, the rest is divided equally among students at Le Quy Don High School (Binh Dinh) and Vo Nguyen Giap High School (Quang Binh).

According to Mr. Ha Viet Hai, Head of Scientific Research and International Cooperation Department of Hue University of Education, from the academic year of 2019 – 2020, students of the program would officially become students of INSA Center Val de Loire, and would follow Val de Loire’s program like French students. 

After over 13 years of experience in training high-quality engineers with over 110 students, of which more than 70 have graduated as engineers, 6 have successfully defended their doctoral dissertation and 9 are doing doctoral dissertation, the result is now clear. In just over a decade, Vietnam have got itself a team of young, high-quality engineers with the age ranging around 30.

There have been speculations that many of them would stay and work in France. If they do not return to Vietnam to work, will this become a waste of brainpower? It is the people who gave them access to the advanced science have different perspective. They believe that the longer students stay in France tolearn modern industry, the better they’ll be able to help Vietnam efficiently in the future. When Vietnam has a suitable working environment, they will surely return.

They still believe, that Vietnamese students will never forget who they are. For example, Professor Van, came to France to study at the age of 16, but more than half of his lifetime, he returned to Vietnam and made great contributions to the country. "For scientists, there is no greater desire than to contribute to their own country, I believe in their generation," Mr. Van shared.

Those students have many cherished plans that they will do for Vietnam, for Hue... Near or far, one way or another, but all will be towards the homeland.

Mr. Tran Thanh Van does not direct them towards scientific research but to become engineers instead. This path will give birth to a team of high-quality engineers for Vietnam.

"The future of the country depends on young generation and our duty is to discover talents in order to pave the way for them to be well trained in France," he believed.

By Hue Thu