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AlumniSteun de RUGEric Bleumink Fonds

Update Hong Hahn Vu, October 2014

1. What are you currently doing?
I have been working in the development sector since I graduated and came back to Vietnam in 2010. My first experience was with the Netherlands Red Cross where I had chance to work for a project on Community-based Disaster Risk Management for more than 3 years. This organization gave me lots of opportunities to travel extensively across the country to work directly with the local partners and the communities on raising their awareness of disaster preparedness and response. I always appreciate for what I have learnt during the time with the Red Cross. Now I am working for Plan International in Vietnam as a Project Officer for the Pro-poor Participatory Development Project (PPDP). This project aims at enabling marginalised groups -- including women, children, ethnic minority groups and the poorest families -- to become better engaged in decisions led by local authorities. Through the PPDP project, we provide communities with the know-how to make them accountable for their own development and to help them make decisions. My main task is to develop and review the project planning and implementation in accordance with the project frame: objectives, expected results, activities and budgets. Next to that, I am also required to travel to project areas for monitoring and reporting.

2. How does your life look like these days? Could you describe a typical day for you? Are you married? Do you have children? Where do you live? etc.
My life is full of surprises, joy and craziness as a mother of one little boy who is now 2 years old. A typical day of mine starts with awakening my baby to get up early, feed him breakfast and drives him on my motorbike to kindergarten before I can eventually go to work and spend 8 hours/day at the office. My boy is so naughty and a little trouble-maker so not a single day goes by easily. He leaves his marks on all corners of the house that makes me so much nostalgic when I have to travel far from home. My husband helps take care of this little kid when he’s not so busy. We live in a big city and thus the life pace is fast and hasty but we always try to have weekends only for family activities and fun. So far, I’m happy with my personal life and learn to appreciate every little things in life.

3. What are your ambitions? Do you have a goal?
The growth of Vietnam into an internationally recognized Lower Middle Income Country (LMC) has led to a changing funding environment as many bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors adjust their development assistance strategies away from poverty reduction. Many aid agencies have withdrawn from the country of Vietnam due to the LMC status of Vietnam. Most of the donors that remain in Vietnam have re-focused their assistance on trade, legal reform, governance, and support to local NGOs. It is a fact that foreign funds will come down in the future and be replaced by domestic fund. In 5 years time when the foreign support becomes limited, I hope to establish a Vietnamese NGO to carry on the true development work.

4. How did you experience your study program?
Studying NOHA was so intensive and tough that it often kept me sleepless many nights during exam preparation period. When I enrolled in the course, my working experiences was very limited while NOHA offered interdisciplinary subjects which are inextricably linked and so I found a lot of difficulties addressing a matter or solving an assignment thoroughly by looking at it from different perspectives while all the perspectives were so new and featured a typical western view (given that I’m from Vietnam). With the facilitation of well-equipped libraries, computerized self-study rooms as well as instrumental guidance and kind support of professors and classmates, I gradually adapted myself to the study environment at University of Groningen. By the end of the study course, I were able to complete my thesis without any delay and received positive feedback from the supervisor. I am always thankful for the hard but fruitful time studying in Groningen that helps make me who I am today.

5. What do you miss most about Groningen? And what do you remember most?
I would say the city vibrance, its student lifestyle and beautiful landscape are things I miss most bout Groningen. It is undeniable that Groningen can call itself the “youngest” city in the Netherlands because the young population outnumbers here. Half of the population is under 35 and one fourth of all the residents are students, which makes the city vibrant and full of youth spirit which you easy realize by a wide range of outdoor cafes, pubs and restaurants around the city. People here are easy-going, like to laugh and especially love arts, the reason artworks are located everywhere and don’t be surprised if you see some main buildings in their very unique architectural style. Despite such a young population of the city, University of Groningen is actually the 2nd oldest university in the Netherlands. Coming to Groningen to study therefore means being part of the university’s rich academic history, indulging in the international student life and immersing in the young and fresh energy of the city. Though Groningen seems to have the whole package to offer you, the weather here is something you might never get used to since it is unpredictable and changeable. It on the contrary doesn’t make Groningen less beautiful in summer and autumn and Groningen itself is a living painting with boats gracefully contemplating themselves through the canals water, students shuttling on colorful bikes, sunshine touches turning the red leaves into hundreds of golden pieces.

6. What did you think of the way of life and the culture in the Netherlands? Did any habits you picked up here, stuck?
I like the Green practice in the Netherlands. With a bike, you can get around the town easily without sweating hard. This kind of practice however doesn’t seem to work in Hanoi, where traffic got jammed from dawn till dusk and pollution covers the city like a thin smoke.

7. What was it like returning back home (or leaving Groningen)?
It was in fact not easy to leave this peaceful and friendly town, especially on a winter day when snow was falling down the train station. I was standing there thinking I’m leaving part of me here because Groningen was not just a place to come and go. It has become home, a place of emotions where I feel so much attached. The first few weeks back in Ha Noi was of course full of memories recalling. Sometimes I did feel I did not belong here any longer and got frustrated seeing people pushing each other to get the place instead of waiting in line. I got annoyed being bothered by people talking out loud or quarelling at each other even at the holly places like pagodas and temples and smoking in public. I was sad and struggling to get used to the place where I spent 23 years of my life time. But once you still have your love for something, you manage to love it again. My family is here in Hanoi, most of my friends are here too and there’s no reason to escape when I have a big emotional attachment to Hanoi. I realize paradise is just the way we see things and this is my paradise, my true home where I feel my best. It was an interesting learning process to re-love what I used to love upon my returning home.

I sincerely wish the Fund would grow stronger and be more accessible to international students (esp those from developing countries) so that their dreams of study further in a diversified and dynamic environment like the University of Groningen could be reachable.

Kind regards,

Hong Hanh

Laatst gewijzigd:14 januari 2015 16:40