Tran Gia Linh (10IG2S2) was recently honored as one of the 11 top students in northern Vietnam to be awarded the prestigious ASEAN scholarship

Tran Gia Linh (10IG2S2) was recently been honored as one of the 11 top students in northern Vietnam to be awarded the prestigious ASEAN scholarship.

As an ASEAN scholar, Linh will move to Singapore to study in a Junior College (Grade 11 and 12 equivalent), and eventually sit for the GCSE A-Level examinations there. Her studies will be supported by a full scholarship from the Government of Singapore.

The ASEAN scholarships aim to provide opportunities for young people across ASEAN to hone essential skills, such as leadership and communication, to ready themselves for the 21st century.

Here are but a few of Linh’s long list of achievements:

  1. Recognised as an Excellent Student at Nguyen Sieu School, Grade 1 to 9;
  2. Awarded the Top Speaking Prize in the Cau Giay District Secondary School English Festival (2016);
  3. Awarded the Encouragement Award in Cau Giay District’s “Review Your Favourite Book” Competition (2017);
  4. Recognised as among the Top 14 students in Nguyen Sieu’s Cambridge programme, (school year 2018-2019, semester 1);
  5. Achieved excellent results in the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music – Association of Royal Music Schools (ABRSM) Grade 5 Practiacl and Theory examinations;
  6. Active volunteer with VEO;
  7. Earned “Specialist” certification for Microsoft Excel;
  8. Active participant in the school clubs and activities;
  9. Awarded the Certificate of Contribution on Nguyen Sieu School’s 25th Anniversary ceremony.

Linh shared that she had felt quite nervous before the interview, as she had not participated in as many competitions or won as many awards as other contenders. However, she credits her eventual selection to her confidence and ability to think on her feet during the interview, as well as being able to respond quickly and naturally. In addition, the selection committee was impressed by her excellent academic achievements and active participation in extracurricular activities. Linh’s achievement is thus reflective of the change in requirements for the ASEAN Scholarship, which place a greater emphasis on extracurricular activities and pursuits such as piano, drawing and sports, over conventional awards.

Over the years, Nguyen Sieu students have been recognised regionally and internationally by being awarded such scholarships. In 2016, Luong Gia Huy also received the ASEAN scholarship. His classmate won both A*STAR and ASEAN scholarships to pursue his/her studies in Singapore that year – an incredibly rare achivement reflective of his calibre!

Reflections from Ms. Phan Thu Giang (Linh’s Mother):

I remember the day the school announced the commencement of the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) programme to the Grade 6 students. It was only the second year that thNguyen Sieu had implemented the bilingual programme. When my daughter was selected for the programme in Grade 6, the whole family was so worried and had so many questions. 9 out of 10 people we talked to cautioned us not to let Linh do the bilingual programme as it would be too difficult. I too began to have my doubts.

It was only thanks to the advice of Linh’s fifth grade teacher, Ms. Thu, who strongly believed the Linh should pursue this opportunity. Linh and I had many frank and discussions, to weigh the pros and cons, and set realistic expectations. Eventually, the family made the decision to support Linh in the CIE programme.

At the time, there was a lot of pressure on Linh, as well as the rest of the family. When the programme started, it became clear, how instrumental English would be: Linh had to study for all of her examinable subjects in English! That means taking Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Information Studies – all in English. Everyone was so worried that Linh would struggle to keep up. We feared that if the school saw that shouldn’t keep up, she would be transferred out of the CIE programme.

But miraculously, after the first year of study, thanks to Ms. Lan’s guidance, Linh eventually adapted well despite big changes such as having a different teacher for every subject. Another challenge she had to surmount was managing her time between the Vietnamese curriculum, and her CIE subjects, which students in the CIE pathway take on top of their Vietnamese classes. I too, was worried sick, when I saw how she would clutch her stack of books and plough through each day, working hard to improve despite her limited English. I felt like the least I could do was to know what she was learning, so that we could communicate, and she would not feel like she was fighting this battle alone. However, I could only help Linh with her schoolwork until the end of Grade 7, as the CIE subjects became tougher and required deeper knowledge, and I myself had limited time. Luckily, Linh has been very self reliant and has lots of self-initiative and I’ve never had to nag or scold her. This achievement really is her own.

Thanks to all of you, I’ve found that Cambridge programme to be an excellent one! It has equipped Linh and other young people to engage with “real life” issues: I’ve seen how Linh has learnt to link what she learns academically to what is happening in the world around her. The deeper we have gone in to the CIE programme, the more supportive I have become.

Three years passed since she started, and then the Checkpoint examinations came. Even though the Principal Thuy assured us that the Checkpoint is not a formal examination like the IGCSEs, but is used to help assess the students’ ability and progress, since Linh started going to school, I have not seen anyone – from students to teachers and especially Ms. Tiep, the headteacher – so worried and focused on this exam. I saw how the students paid so much attention to their studies, either by themselves, or in groups, exchanging notes and sharing information – just like responsible, mature adults. The teachers supported them by photocopying material, providing links to online readings past years’ papers, as well as organising after-school supplementary classes to help weaker students catch up. Ms. Tiep would even pay for pizza and milk tea for the students out of her own pocket. She used to send us photos of students studying and practicing, even during their breaks, and I felt very secure and confident to see that my daughter was being cared for so dearly by her. And also to see that Linh had a united and supportive class to go through this period of time with her. That was really a memorable experience! In the end, the results achieved by the students really did not disappoint – a proud moment for us all!

Now, as we approach the half-way point of the Cambridge programme – the IGCSEs – today, I’ll be attending a parent-teacher conference, where the teachers will share more about preparing for Grade 10, and eventually the A-Levels. The more they share, especially Principal Thuy, the more I see how this programme is full of enthusiastic, mature and responsible students. I understand why Principal Thuy had been, and is so absolutely convinced about the merits of  establishing the CIE proramme in Nguyen Sieu School. I am so grateful that Linh has had the opportunity to receive one of the most advanced educations in the world, and is learning in a modern, progressive environment, that is at the same time grounded in tradition, and the love of friends and teachers. I can rest assured that when Linh grows up, she will reap the benefits of knowing English, as well as the skills she has honed at Nguyen Sieu School. Despite the sacrifices we have made, I know that the rewards of this journey will be well worth it.

I wish for Linh to continue growing steadily, and to achieve much more on the upward trajectory that has been set for her.