…begins with a tough childhood!
Before earning a decent salary and being entitled to good working conditions in France, most of the students from the DONG HANH Program experienced a difficult childhood in Vietnam. Most of us were born into a working-class or deprived family. While others of the same age were still dependent on their family, we were forced to gain autonomy and independence from a young age. We did many things to help our family: running around every corner of the market to sell cupcakes prepared by our mother, working as a part-time waiter in a restaurant, doing remedial work with younger students, etc.
However, such difficulties didn’t prevent us from dreaming of a better future. And in order to change our lives, we realized that studying had to be our first priority. Despite a lack of time, a lack of material and financial resources, we all earned a high GPA and passed our exams with flying colors. Thanks to support from friends and teachers, we won many prizes in national and international science competitions.
Our efforts were finally rewarded with success – we were accepted to the Ecole Polytechnique. As a result we experienced a more comfortable living environment and more opportunities for work. The more we realized how lucky we were, the more we thought about young people who experienced the same difficult childhood as we had in Vietnam. Sharing the determination to help those less fortunate friends, we got together and launched a program called DONG HANH Scholarship. Our goal was and still is to give a helping hand to talented but economically challenged students so that they can make their academic dreams come true.
First days after birth…
In July 2001, our dream of starting this program materialized. In the very first days, our group had only six members; our mission statement was to award financial aid and scholarships to the brightest students who had left Vietnam to study abroad and whose situation was quite insecure. Our program was thus originally called “Right to Dream”.
It took us a long time to achieve our ambition of expanding the program. Being all students and therefore limited in time and financial resources, we originally intended to help a small number of students every semester. We had to become well organized, so that we could run the project and could follow our studies at the same time. We managed to find donors and asked for other students to participate in our effort. We also kept in touch with our teachers and friends in Vietnam who provided us with the lists and academic achievements of potential candidates. This allowed us to select the most deserving students for our program. Needless to say, our ideas and ambitions were well regarded other Vietnamese students in France, as well as by many teachers and friends in Vietnam.
Thanks to the motivation, enthusiasm and encouragement of all of these people, we are happy to have succeeded in opening the doors to a brighter future for thousands of students from low-income families in Vietnam.