Starting with openess is the key to become a global citizen

January 19, 2024

(Shared by Dang Thu Ha, a third-year student at College of Business Administration, VinUni after cultural exchange experiences)

Dang Thu Ha’s dream of becoming a global citizen was fueled by her curiosity and desire to explore the world beyond what she had seen on screens. She had always wondered what it truly meant to be a global citizen and longed for the opportunity to travel abroad and experience different cultures firsthand.

Her journey began during her time as a student at VinUni, where she had the chance to study and learn in a diverse and international environment. The university provided her with a platform to connect with students from various cultural backgrounds, exposing her to different perspectives, beliefs, and traditions. This exposure helped her broaden her worldview and understand the importance of cultural diversity.

The encounters with students from diverse backgrounds became her valuable learning experiences. She discovered that being a global citizen goes beyond simply traveling or experiencing different cultures. It involves embracing openness, empathy, and respect for others. It means recognizing and appreciating the similarities and differences between people from various cultures and being willing to learn from them.

Through her article, Dang Thu Ha hopes to share these invaluable lessons with others who are also on their path to becoming global citizens. She believes that her personal experiences, although unique to her, can serve as guidance and inspiration for others.

Lesson 1: Open your heart to embrace differences

My first lesson began with the experience of interacting with students from around the world who came to VinUni through the Inbound Exchange program, such as students from Singapore Management University, the University of British Columbia – Canada, or the University of Cambridge.

Thanks to the initial encounters with these friends, I understood that to become a global citizen, I needed to learn how to accept differences, embrace and respect new cultures. For example, when I looked at the strict regulations in Singapore, such as the chewing gum ban or the fines for not flushing the toilet, I found them hard to comprehend. However, after my friends from Singapore shared and explained more about the country’s history, I gradually understood that everything has its reasons. The strictness was necessary for Singapore to become the clean and beautiful country it is today.

From then on, whenever I hear a different opinion or perspective, I have developed a habit of not immediately dismissing it to protect my own viewpoint. Instead, I take a step back and calmly try to understand where that difference comes from. What may be normal in my culture could be strange or even contradictory to others. To become a global citizen, I have learned to open my heart, accept, and respect all kinds of differences, even when they contrast with my familiar values.

Lesson 2: Open your heart to embrace connections

My journey continued when I participated in the Youth Ecosperity Dialogue program at the Singapore Management University, where I learned the second lesson – opening my heart to embrace connections.

Initially, I felt quite hesitant when it came to speaking and interacting with culturally diverse, multidisciplinary student friends who represented various Asian countries. But once I overcame the barriers of shyness and learned to open my heart to embrace new connections, I realized that I gained more than I lost.

Even though we were studying the same field and discussing the same topic, the five friends from five different countries provided me with five unique perspectives, all of which were incredibly intriguing and worth contemplating. I understood that to have a global mindset, it is crucial to actively connect and share with new friends. Don’t wait for others to initiate conversations with you; instead, create your own conversations – you never know what fascinating things await you!

By actively engaging in conversations and building connections, I discovered that people from diverse backgrounds have a wealth of knowledge, experiences, and insights to offer. Through these interactions, I broadened my own perspectives and gained a deeper understanding of different cultures, traditions, and ways of thinking. Opening my heart to embrace connections allowed me to appreciate the beauty of diversity and realize the importance of fostering meaningful relationships in becoming a global citizen.

Lesson 3: Open your heart to let go of fear

Lastly, the biggest lesson on my journey to becoming a global citizen is learning to “dare” – dare to let go of fear, step out of my comfort zone, and continuously challenge myself.

Thanks to the collaboration between VinUni and Cornell University, we, as VinUni students, had the opportunity to go to Cornell, Ithaca, to learn and experience student life in another country.

Just one or two years ago, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to apply. I was afraid, afraid that I wasn’t good enough, afraid of rejection, afraid of feeling disappointed if the results didn’t turn out as I hoped.

However, through continuous exposure and learning from my peers from different countries during my time at VinUni, I became much more confident. I learned from them how to see failure as an opportunity for learning. That mindset helped me overcome my fears and focus on pursuing the goals I set for myself, no matter how difficult or distant they seemed.

Although my current journey only consists of three lessons, I hope that these personal experiences and insights can somehow help you take firmer steps on your own journey.

Goodbye for now!