Achieving Vietnamese master degree 4 months earlier.
That’s the achievement of two graduate foreign students: A 35-year-old American Jared Kyle Koelling, and a 26-year-old Chinese Wei Gen Yuan. The discussion with Koelling and Yuan was only 30 minutes, when they both were packing to prepare for the trip backing to their countries in the following day, there was no time to shake hands and say hello. Smiled brightly and said Koelling in Vietnamese “Koelling’m very happy, so fun!”.
The joy of the two is understandable, because this is the first two students successfully defended a master’s thesis in Vietnamese in June 24th, in Vietnamese Study Faculty of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (VNU-HCM).
Desiring to discover Vietnamese culture
Koelling and Yuan started their stories with cheery smiles as their heavy duty of achieving a master degree in Vietnamese was completed. Yuan said: “More than three months I were grappling with the topic, and now I can take a sigh with relief, feel much better.” For Koelling, all the things he did was smiling because the result of the master thesis was “as if a dream”.
Koelling graduated from West Point Military Academy and was a mechanical engineer of the US Army. Two years ago, in April 2014, Koelling was sent to study abroad, and by chance, out of the non-English speaking countries, Koelling chose Vietnam. In the beginning days in Vietnamese Study Faculty, Koellling said that he could only speak a couple of Vietnamese sentences. The fact that he spent 2 months studying intensively and achieve the B Level surprised everyone. Yuan is a lecturer of Sichuan University of Foreign Languages (China), she granted a scholarship and “fall in love” with Vietnam Study then.
Being asked if there was any different between learning in Vietnam and USA, Koelling said: “Learning in Vietnam is too different, unlike in America where students asked a lot, I find out that the study is only one way from the teachers, students only sit and write “.
Jared Kyle Koelling was happy after successfully defending a master’s thesis in Vietnamese. Photo: Duc Loc.
Coming to Vietnam, Yuan faced many difficulties as many local people speak dialect and “incomprehensible”. She said: “Northern people speak one way, in Saigon people speak another way, very confusing. Later I decided to learn only Saigon way. ” Koelling said: “I can’t understand why the Vietnam calls a pig by 2 different words (lon/ heo). Then I think southerners are more easy to follow then I only learn Southern Vietnamese”
Two years both learning Vietnamese and doing research for master’s thesis was rather hard to Koelling and Yuan, but it’s extraordinary that they were never “bored with Vietnamese”.
“In the class, I was the one who asked most, asked repeatedly. I think I need to ask, not only for myself but also for others to understand. Vietnam people have a saying: Do not know, ask / A man becomes learned by asking questions, right? “- Koelling laughed.
For Yuan, the secrets to learn Vietnamese quickly is by making friends and talk to Vietnamese. Yuan said: “It was the time talking to Vietnam friends that help me a lot to correct my mistakes in pronunciation and usage of words”.
Because scholarships were only for 2 years so Koelling and Yuan must race against time. Yuan chose the topic of the Worship of Guan Gong because this is an interference cultural phenomenon of China and Vietnam. Koelling chose the topic of Customer service in the tourism activities in Vietnam, where he engaged two years. It was unpredictable that they both successfully defended 4 months earlier, with the outstanding scores.
Recall fact finding days for the thesis, Yuan said: “That period of time was very tired, I just want to get it done and back to my country”, but after defending successfully and was commended by Dr. Phan Thi Yen Tuyet that “the style is very Vietnamese” Yuan was very touched. Yuan wished “to stay in Vietnam longer, because the culture of Vietnam has many things that I haven’t discovered …”.
Missing University of Human Science and Humanity, missing Saigon.
In their stories, Koelling and Yuan usually recalled the teachers in Vietnamese Study Faculty. Koelling said: “I’m grateful a lot to those teachers who taught me here. Teachers are so good to me, I want to send my thank to them. ” Yuan also did not hide the love to Saigon: “People in Saigon are very open and easy.”
Back to the countries, Koelling continues working in the US military, while Yuan will teach Vietnamese. During the journey of their future, the period time at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, living in Saigon remains forever beautiful memories, as the confidence of Yuan: “I will miss the inn on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street, bun thit nuong, sticky rice … “.
To Koelling, he brought a different conception: “When I came to Vietnam, I brought my wife and my 4-year-old son. I hired maids and asked them to talk to my son in Vietnamese. My son learned and sang in Vietnamese very well! But I’m afraid that backing to America, working with English environment, me myself and my son will forget Vietnamese “.
Wei Gen Yuan (3rd from left) during the master’s thesis defense on June 24th. Photo: Department of Vietnamese Study.
I joked, “Or both of you stay in Vietnam instead.” They both laughed, said “We have to back to our countries to work, but we will definitely be back.” And when? “I have to ask my boss in the US, but I hope to come back in November to receive the degree.” said Koelling.
Ending the conversation, I suggested to add friend on Facebook, Koelling laughed: “It had to be talking like this to make friends, I don’t add friend if I haven’t met. But we have to talk regularly! I don’t need many friends, but sincere friends. I love to speak to Vietnamese. ”
Two examples of the studiousness.
Associate Prof. Dr. Le Khac Cuong, Dean of Vietnamese Study Faculty, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, said: “Koelling and Yuan are the two students who leave much love and admiration to those teachers at Vietnamese Study Faculty.
Koelling surprised teachers in the faculty by completing Vietnamese level B (compulsory requirement to study the Master) just after two-month intensively study. Not only that, he also speaks very well and defense his thesis 4 months earlier, while many Vietnamese students haven’t finished writing preamble yet. At the defense, when the council were afraid that he could not understand complicated questions so they allowed him to choose the answers, he answered all the five questions, leaving everyone surprise.
As for Yuan, when she came to Vietnam, her Vietnamese was not really good but after 2 years, Yuan has improved a lot, her Vietnamese is now standard.
Koelling and Yuan are examples of studiousness as well as good learning methods. ”
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