I hope to be selected for your Education Master’s Degree Program at the University of XXXX in part because of my international experience and how it would serve to enhance my contribution to diversity in your program. It was a profound honor for me to be selected for a small group of students sent to India for a volunteer program of 6 weeks. I have also been developing a close relationship with Thailand over many years.
While I am 100% Vietnamese, at least genetically speaking, I think of myself as having attained a nearly bicultural identity due to my family in Thailand and my great love for this country and society. For this reason, I have made an enormous investment to become fluent in Thai over the years. My maternal grandfather had a sister who was a refugee in the war with America, fleeing to Thailand and making a new home for herself there. She never returned to Vietnam. But I adopted her and her family as my own and have long been close to most of them. She settled in a small province in Thailand and started a new family there. My Thai cousins are half or one-quarter Vietnamese, but none speak Vietnamese. Thus, before I learned Thai, we could only communicate in English. In addition to extended trips to see my family in Thailand, I also studied there full time for one month as part of a language & cultural exchange program. Learning Thai also filled a university requirement for a second foreign language. My English is advanced; my Thai is adequate for daily conversations in familiar settings.
My appreciation for diversity has also been enhanced by my research and volunteer experiences, especially my service with USGuide Vietnam – an organization that promotes higher learning for Vietnamese students in the U.S. It would be a special honor for me to serve as a research assistant for a faculty member whose research interests in some way included Vietnam.
I also think that I have something unique to contribute to diversity in terms of culture, intellectuality, and morality in the context of Southeast Asia through my careful study of Confucianism, a tradition that we share with China. Confucianism is a central component in the cultural traditions of various Asian countries. I am firmly immersed in how this tradition can continue to contribute to enhancing our educational systems. The single most positive influence of Confucius’s teachings, in my opinion, is the emphasis on curiosity and respect for intellectuals in society, especially for teachers. We have a national celebration called “Vietnamese Teachers’ Day” in Vietnam, held on November 20th. On this day, students pay homage to all the teachers who have helped them advance their education by giving them thank-you notes, presents, and lots of flowers. The degree of sincerity varies among students, of course. However, the fact that this tradition is still commonly practiced in schools and universities in Vietnam shows that teaching is still considered a respectable career in society.