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22/02/2021 - 11:18

Professor Damien Roche: "When I get old, perhaps I would stay in Hue"

It is quite easy to recognize Professor Damien Roche in his classes and seminars in Hue. Having reached over the age of sixteen, he is still diligently working on educational cooperation projects in Hue. When being asked about his wishes, Professor Damien Roche emotionally replied: "Maybe when I get old, I would stay in Hue".

Professor Damien Roche is always humorous when talking to his colleagues and students.

Loving Hue from simple things

Having an online conversation through the computer screen, Professor Damien Roche still expressed his humor when talking to Hue lecturers and students. A moment of sadness only appeared when people asked him about the nostalgia for Hue when the COVID-19 pandemic has been raging in Europe.

In my talking with Prof. Damien Roche, the professor started to take me back to his own memory, from the days that he arrived in Hue. In 2014, during the business trip of the Irish Government delegation to Vietnam to develop educational projects, the teacher of Dublin University of Technology - Damien Roche had a chance to work with the University of Economics, Hue University to develop a Joint Degree Program with the University of Technology, Dublin (Tallaght program).

When he first came to Hue, he did not know he would return, but fate has bound him to Hue when the professor was almost over the age of 60.

Professor Damien Roche is often very cheerful

Living in the northwestern part of Europe, but there are some years Professor Damien Roche has visited Hue several times. Each business trip lasted about 10 days; the Irish professor always spent time learning about the culture and cuisine of the ancient capital.

Taking advantage of the free time after working, Professor Damien Roche visited Hue Festival activities and XQ Museum of Embroidery Art and enjoyed music performances and Hue cuisine. His initial intention was to experience and understand these to serve his work. Then he didn’t know since when he had loved the simple things of the peaceful land by the Perfume River.

“Although there are a lot of differences between Ireland and Vietnam, I still find living in Hue very suitable for me. Every time I get here for business, I always ask my colleagues and students to take me to many restaurants in Hue. Bun bo Hue (Hue Beef Noodle Soup), Com hen (mussel rice) or the specialties of the ancient capital are all very special. There was one time that I even ate several bowls. Whenever I go back to my country, there are always Hue gifts in my luggage,” shared Professor Damien Roche.

The predestination and love for this sunny and windy Central land have helped Damien Roche to thrive and dedicate himself at his best. He said that Hue not only had beautiful landscapes and cultures, but the local people were easy to get along with and industrious. Also, the friendly environment gave him a sense of comfort to work.

When being in charge of developing and managing the Joint Degree Program between the University of Economics and the Tallaght Institute of Technology, Prof. Damien Roche has directly run and managed the project to support the training activities sponsored by the Irish Aid – Irish Embassy in Vietnam. During many years of cooperation (from 2014 to present), there have been eight lecturers of Hue University receiving scholarships to study for a master’s degree and nearly 20 other staffs and lecturers have participated in short-term training and academic exchange in the Republic of Ireland. Behind each of these successes voiced the support of Prof. Damien Roche.

Since 2017, Prof. Damien Roche even cooperated with the Faculty of Business Administration, the University of Economics to develop a project, applying for funding from the Irish Aid International Aid program of the Irish Government to support startup training activities at the University of Economics. Besides, Prof. Damien Roche attended and chaired international scientific conferences at the University of Economics, Hue University.

Being responsible for connecting and coordinating projects, Damien Roche still successfully managed his teaching. Whenever having classes or meeting and talking with students, his sense of humor always makes the 1955-born professor attractive to the students.

Bich Tram, a student from Hue University once attended his lectures, said that Prof. Damien Roche always had a teaching assistant to know what students need. Although he cannot speak Vietnamese much, to make the class exciting, sometimes, a few words like “xin chao” and “cam on” came from the Irish professor's mouth. His humor and enthusiasm make students have a sense of friendliness.

At the age of 66, Damien Roche is still working so hard and fast that Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Dang Hao, Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, University of Economics, whenever talking about Prof. Damien Roche is always touched: “He is wholehearted and dedicated to his work and our partnership. And I can contact Prof. Damien Roche at any time. Recently, although the COVID -19 pandemic has made Prof. Damien Roche’s plan to Vietnam meet with difficulties, he is still exchanging and connecting to work online”.

A dream with Hue

In 2019, in his trip to Hue, Professor. Damien Roche revealed his desire to cooperate in continuing to contribute to the university in the next 4-5 years. Behind the story of short-term plans, he did not hesitate to confess: "I love Hue and have a dream with Hue".

Students give flowers to Prof. Damien Roche when he was awarded the Honorary Professor title by Hue University

Love, for Prof. Damien Roche, is to combine thoughts and action. After a long time of working with Hue lecturers and students, he realized that the big challenge is that some people’s English proficiency is still poor. However, that was not a barrier when Prof. Damien Roche delivered lectures because he has had a teaching assistant, nevertheless, he is quite worried about a generation entering the era of integration.

Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Dang Hao said that Prof. Damien Roche often shared his concerns relating to Hue university students’ foreign languages ability. Ireland is an English-speaking country and Damien Roche has made great efforts to find opportunities for Hue lecturers and students to have academic exchange knowledge and practice foreign languages with lecturers in Ireland.

In 2020, in Europe, when everything is "frozen" due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were still English classes of Irish teachers’ to teach the English language to and share online learning experiences with Hue students.

According to Prof. Damien Roche, the peaceful, easy-to-live and hospitable life of Hue people is the invisible lock that makes his mind want to have more experiences in Hue.

Prof. Damien Roche used to say that what he did did not seem to be enough because his wish was much greater. He still kept his secrets every time I asked what he was going to do in Hue; but the aspirations to stick with the Huong Ngu region made him share his thought without being reminded: “Maybe when I get old, I would stay in Hue”.

Story and photos: Huu Phuc