November Graduate Student Spotlight: Nhu Truong, Masters student
Posted: November 1, 2008
JT: How did you get interested in Asian Cultures and Languages? What made you decide to pursue a graduate degree in it?
NT: My interest in Asian Cultures and Languages has its early root in a quest for "home," that is, a return to where I first came from and a search for the meaning of this place and its people to me now. What started out as a personal journey and a mere interest have matured into devotion and a career and life orientation that have ultimately led me to pursue the graduate degree in Asian Studies at UT Austin.
While allowing me to focus on the study of Vietnam's economic reform policies and their socio- political impacts, the program has also broadened my understanding and comparative analysis with an interdisciplinary studies of China and East Asia. The graduate degree in Asian Studies, thus, provides a much needed concrete foundation for the building of my anticipated career in public, international service with NGO's and non-profits on development in Vietnam, China, and other areas of Asia.
JT: Where are you from and what made you decide to come to UT Austin?
NT: My family and I first settled in San Jose, California in 1995, and moved to Austin, Texas about 2 years ago. After graduating from Kenyon College in 2006, I came to Austin and discovered the Asian Studies department at UT. While my family was one of the pull factors, the deciding factor for my choice to come UT Austin was after I had visited and met the faculty and staff of the department. I was awed not only by their knowledge but also by their enthusiasm, encouragement, and the sincerity of their advice on what could be best for me.
JT: Tell me about your summer, interning at an NGO and studying Chinese.
NT: In this recently past summer, I had the opportunity to intern with Environmental Development Action in the Third World (ENDA) Vietnam a second time. ENDA Vietnam is the Vietnamese antenna of ENDA Tiers Monde, a South-based NGO that focuses on a research-action-training process in the development field. There, I was able to jumpstart ENDA's new research study, Diaspora for Development, otherwise known as DIAPODE. With an action-research plan currently implemented in various countries with ENDA antennas that broadens over a three-year period, the DIAPODE study in its first year aims, on one hand, to record the sectors and fields of involvement of diasporas groups within the home countries, and, on the other hand, actors of development who are collaborating or have potential to collaborate with diasporas groups on long-term development, social, environmental projects. Within this framework, the internship had give me opportunities to not only sharpen my research and documentation skills but also to obtain further hand-on experience in the field, contacts, and communication with different entities and crucial actors of development in Vietnam.
In addition, I enrolled in CET intensive Chinese language studies in Hangzhou, China in the remaining half of the summer. The seriously taken Chinese-only language pledge was one of the strongest components of the language studies that had noticeably advanced my Chinese language skill. Furthermore, the immersion in Hangzhou alongside the intensive language studies had both "refreshed" my excitement for learning Chinese and given me an insightful glimpse of some of the ways of life and people of the modern China that I constantly seek to better understand.
JT: What do you hope to do after graduation?
NT: ( This is a question that often makes my nerve tingles.) While nothing has been finalized yet and I'm seeking several possibilities, I hope to follow my preset orientation by further pursuing a MPA in Public and Nonprofit management and Policy at NYU Wagner School of Public Service, attain more hand-on experience working with NGO's and non-profits in the field, or other fellowship opportunities along the same line. (Wish me good luck!)
JT: If you could have dinner with any person living or dead who would it be and why?
NT: Hmm...this is kind of hard. I'd like to have dinner with George Orwell, Albert Camus, and Antoine de Saint Exupéry; I like their books. It ought to be an "interesting" dinner, don't you think?
JT: If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?
NT: A NEWT !!!!