Chisholm ran a competition entitled “My Life – My Story” competition for our students in Vietnam, inviting them to tell us about their journey to where they are today. We were so impressed by the quality of the students’ stories, and touched at what they had to tell, with many details we could not have guessed behind the students’ smiles and dedication to their studies.

Please enjoy the stories, and join us on congratulating these students on their excellent efforts at giving us an insight into their lives.

An Enthusiastic Heart: Tran Manh Dat, Mechatronics, Quy Nhon College of Engineering and Technology (First Prize)

I am a 21-year-old schoolboy born and raised in Gia Lai, a picturesque province in the Highlands of Vietnam, in which my family is still residing. Since my childhood, my parents, who are both farmers, have been reminding me that: "Farmers are poor and less educated, you had better make an effort in learning so that you can find a respected and well-paid job rather than follow our path." I have always kept their words in my mind till now. Returning to my early years of life, I realize that part of my childhood associated with joy in the fields, I was fond of lying on the grass watching the blue sky with the ever-changing dreams of childhood. Life at that time was so peaceful and quiet and even the lights were not brought to the countryside.

Tran Manh Dat

Although I was not willing to live apart from my family, I left home very early to attend a secondary school in town. I was bullied by my friends for owning a strange accent compared to them. It was such a terrible period of time in my life; however, it has its own values for forming me a much stronger person than I had been. Apart from those unhappy memories, I acquired a variety of helpful knowledge at school. When I was a young boy, I soon expressed my interest in science, cars and robots. I often made toys with electronic devices and perhaps it was the main reason for my decision to major in Mechatronics. My parents wanted me to be a music or art teacher because that was my inborn talents. I am also keen on having a deep understanding of the diverse cultures and civilizations in the world. After all, I made up mind about applying my current course and it turned out to be that it was my wisest decision. I am now excited about the courses, the machines and new equipments. I started excitedly learning English with the help of professional advisers from Australia, who brought me joy and other aspirations to explore the outside world.

In my free time or in my summer vacation, I prefer returning home, to accompany with the delegation of cultural departments of Gia Lai province to wade into the poor and remote villages in my homeland. With an enthusiastic heart, I have supported the local people and have understood more about the hardships and deficiencies of the homeland. I, partly, have given the kids the light of strength and motivation to drive them to school by showing them the pictures of the sandy beaches, wonderful skyscrapers and the whole magnificent city at night, where they have never been to even once. I noticed that their eyes were full of curiosity and other joys that were signs of some upcoming hopes. “An enthusiastic heart finds opportunities everywhere”- the sayings of Paulo Coelho has struck me hard and has become my motto till now.

I have also been working part time at a local homestay with the original purpose of improving English skills. As a result, I have gained much more than I had expected. I have had good memories, interesting stories from travelers around the world. As for my future orientation, though future is unknown, I have already prepared my plan. Instead of seeking for jobs immediately after graduation, I would like to go to Australia or New Zealand, countries owning the most rapid development of science and technology in the world, to continue my further education. I am fortunate to be trained in the professional academic environment co-provided by the Australian and Vietnamese governments.

I strongly believe that the skills that I am learning here together with those in the future will be extremely effective at factories around the world. Indeed, I fully aware of the difficulties and challenges that I am to face in order to achieve the goal that I have been dreaming of for years – studying abroad. Therefore, I am now making a lot of efforts in developing my major-related skills as well as improve the proficiency of English to get well prepared for my future plans. Fortunately, my father and my beloved family are very hopeful and supportive of my plans. With their presence by my side, I believe my wish will definitely be fulfilled.

Planning for The Future: Xuan Phong Nguyen, IT Applications, Central Highlands Technology College (Second Prize)

I was born in a family with parents are lecturers. Although they have a bit of typical Asian parents' minds, they are always looking for the best future for me. When I was young, I was always oriented towards the direction of my parents and brother, called "B orientation" according to Vietnamese education, which include a combination of Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology or Physics subjects, and target specialized field related to Biology such as agriculture, livestock, land, health, etc.. After finishing high school, I applied to the Land Science of the Hanoi University of Resources and Environment as my parents' wish, but decided to leave there after a year because I do not have the excitement of a specialized subject I do not like.

Nguyen Xuan Phong

As a person of Generation Y, I have always had many questions about life, future and myself in my head and a strong personality. With the advantage of being exposed to Information Technology and Western culture since I was a child, I always ask a lot of questions and always try to achieve better than my dad did. Although both my parents and my brother are in biology related fields, I'm not interested in that. Since I was a high school student, I learned by myself about compose and produce music; video production, editing and photography. I am extremely interested in information technology, content creation and media. Based on self-taught knowledge from the internet as well as society, I was able to find a job at a local studio to collect more experience. But to me, that is not enough. I would also like to learn about computers for more knowledge, support for my work and future plans. So I decided to look for an IT training program with the best opportunities at graduation, especially international programs. During that process, I accidentally heard about the training program between Central Highland Technology College and Chisholm Institute, I spent a lot of time thinking about it. And finally I decided to pursue the program.Things have changed since I joined the course: I work harder with my passion, learning becomes more exciting when I'm studying information technology, rather than the subjects that are related to Chemistry, Biology or Physics. And most importantly, I can start making plans for the future that I have planned for a long time.

Unlike most people of the same age, I always think carefully and plan seriously for anything in life, and the future is not exception. I usually spend 2-3 hours each night before going to sleep to think about what I learned during the day, then check my plans and plans for the next to ensure the results should be perfect. It's good that the course is a great help for my future career plans. Many people, even my friends, think that this course is almost no help for my career development but in fact it is not. Up to now, what I have learned from college as well as this program has helped me a lot; from ICT project management, object analysis, contract building to IT knowledge has helped me a lot in accomplishing my future goals.

Knowing that my career ahead is still a lot of trouble and a lot of learning, I believe I can do it myself, and my efforts to learn and work on improving will be worth the effort. I think what we need to do now is to continue to improve our experience as well as to complete the course so well that we have the best base to continue to accomplish the big plan that I have set out.

The Courage to Pursue Your Dreams: Oanh Nguyen Thi Kim, Industrial Electronics, Hanoi Vocational College of High Technology (Third Prize)

“Hey, you are at the wrong school!” – I've heard these same words more than once from the guards and teachers of the schools where I studied. My name is Oanh. I am part of a happy family that includes my grandparents, my parents, my brother and me. The people in my family are normal people, except me. At only 135 centimetres tall as a 20 year old, I’m an especially small young woman. Throughout my life, I developed slower than others the same my age. I figured out why the guards and teachers stopped me, thinking maybe I had followed my older brother or sister to school: because I look too small, too young. But still there was one question I couldn't answer: “Why don’t I look like other people?”.

Oanh Nguyen Thi Kim

When I was child, my dream was to become a teacher someday. With this goal in my mind, I studied very hard in primary school and secondary school. I found myself getting closer to realizing my dream when I passed the high school entrance exam to become student at top high school in the district. Anytime anyone asked me about the job I want to do in the future, the answer was always the same: "I want to be a teacher." I was hoping to receive encouragement but instead received the exact opposite. Everyone doubted my ability and asked me a lot of question such as: “Do you really want to become a teacher?”, “Become a teacher with your height? Who will listen to you?” As I thought more about all of their questions, I began to doubt myself and doubt my dream and in the end I gave up. With no goals and no direction I began to care about studying less and less. My scholastic achievements suffered. I was just a average student during three years in high school. I had got 15/30 mark in the graduation exam. I didn’t know where I wanted to go to school. I didn't know what I wanted to study. For three months, I couldn't find any college I wanted to attend until one day I met my uncle and he suggested Hanoi Vocational College of High Technology. The next day, my father and I went to the college and after thinking long and hard about it, finally we decided to major in Industrial Electronics.

When I began my studies here, I was still very shy and I still didn’t have any clear goals... until I met Mrs. Hong, my current teacher. The first day I took part in her class, the other students looked at me with curious eyes. Maybe they were thinking the same thing those guards and teachers were thinking before: "You are at the wrong school!". But this time things felt different. Any self-doubt I had began to slowly disappear. Mrs. Hong’s words, her stories made me more confident, more sure of myself. When she talked about Australia’s program, I registered (with my parents’ support). I defined my direction – and now, once again I have a dream! I want to become an English teacher and an Industrial Electronics teacher. Most of all I want to help students by the way Mrs. Hong has helped me.

Now, with a clear goal, I am studying hard. In my first year, I have raised my English from level 0 to B1. I’m a member of English club. I joined in an English competition that was held at my school – “Let’s talk English” and finished in the top 10. I have been awarded scholarships by Unilever (in Vietnam) in my second year. I have tutored a boy for two months as a part time job. Working hard and studying hard has been a truly rewarding experience.

It was during this time that I finally discovered why I developed slower than others the same age. It is because I have pituitary gland disease. The doctor said there is a treatment that might improve my height and weight but that as part of the treatment they need one week to monitor my progress at the hospital so I must stop my part time job (of course I didn't want to stop tutoring). As a result, I gained 2 kilograms after nearly two months of using the injection (it’s a great result).

Walt Disney once said: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” That’s right, my dream is coming true and my life will be continue to write by myself.

Faith Leads to Success: Le Thi Huong Giang, Tour Guiding, Hue Tourism College (Additional Prize)

Hi everyone! My name is Giang and I am 20 years old. I am studying in Hue Tourism College(Viet Nam) but with Chisholm Institute’s program(Australia). I am just the little normal girl, living in the normal family with my mom and my grandfather in the peaceful city – Hue!

Let me ask you a question? Is it “normal” with a family without dad? For me, IT WAS!!

I was afraid when anyone asked me about my dad, I was so confused when telling a lie to my friend that my dad was working in other city and I was so uncomfortable with a lot of questions in my head but I couldn’t ask my mom.

But now, when I grow up, then I am confident enough to understand that it is OK when living without dad! I know it is because of my mom – a super woman – who always tries her best to give me a better life. For me, she is the strongest woman in the world. She is successful in her career, get so many good friends and bring me up as a good person!!

My mom put all her hope on me when I entered the National university entrance exam. But I failed because I did not have enough score. I felt extremely disappointed with myself, but you know what? My mom did not! She told me that studying in university is not what she needed from me, all she wanted me to know is to do what I really love, what I believe in and what I feel interested in! But for me, I did not think like that. I decided to have a gap-year and went to my sibling’s house in Ho Chi Minh City to earn more experience.

My mom understands that I really love travel. Therefore, she decided to find some courses which are related to tourism for me. One of her friends mentioned about a new Australian program in tour guide major but the students can study in Viet Nam. She encouraged me to join that course and after a while looking for the information on the internet, I found that it was very interesting and I could have a great opportunity to study as an international student. One more thing that inspired me is that every subjects were taught in English.

Day by day, I feel more confident about myself - because I have many good changes during the time in college. I have three part-time jobs that I have never done before. My very first part-time job is being a waitress in a small restaurant, the second one is being a manager of a homestay and the last one is being a copywriter of a Thai online magazine. My favourite jobs are working in tourism industry and marketing. According to the lessons taught by my teachers, I understand that if I have the faith in what I am doing I will be wonderfully successful as my expectation.

I already had my own plan after graduating from college. I want to spend one year for traveling on my own and do some social activities. After that, I will apply for a tour operator and work as a tour guide. I also want to study more about marketing because it is my dream job as well.

Writing this story, I am no longer a little girl like the old days who always feel shy about my family background and weaknesses. Now, I can confidently state that I am becoming a strong girl with kindness heart and I am not afraid of any challenges that life gives to me. Everything happens for a reason, all I need to do is to accept it and make it better!

I sincerely want to show my great gratefulness to my beloved mom who is always by my side, supports me in every decision and deeply understands me like a close friend. Thank to all respectable teachers who inspired me the most and shared lots of valuable knowledge as well as interesting experience. And thank to my enthusiastic classmates who make me feel warm and together we make the best memories of our student life.

No Goal Too Hard: Tran Van Thang, Industrial Electronics, Hai Duong Vocational Training College (Additional Prize)

Being born in a small town in the North of Vietnam, I am less fortunate than others. I had a disability…

When I was a child, I was always upset because I felt that I didn’t fit in society. I always wished I was normal like the other kids at my school. But having something that you have been born with and can not get rid of. I has all the support such as my family and great friends to help me through. There is the black and white, there is the bad and there is the good so as long as your focusing on the good then the bad just seems to melt away. A teacher once told me: “Only education can change my life”, that is the reason why I am here to share my story.

To become an electronics engineer has been one of my biggest dreams in my childhood. After high school graduation in 2016, I was accepted into the high quality training which assisted by Chisholm at Hai Duong vocational training college; it was definitely a great opportunity to fulfil my childhood passion. During the course, I have lots of chance to participate in various research projects under my lecturer’s supervision. And now, I found out that electronics industrial is really fascinating and I was completely addicted in it. Besides trying to stay at the top of my class, I worked part-time as a as a seller at a center for disable people to cover my living expenses due to my family’s financial hardships. I was highly motivated to overcome both challenges in my studies and my life. My difficulties instilled in me a strong sense of motivation, determination and perseverance to strive for a successful future.

In life your given a choice to have motivation or to sit on the sidelines wishing you did. Never give up because “it’s to hard of a goal” no goal is to hard if your willing to put the work in. There is and interesting sentence which fascinates me very much. It belongs to Alan Bond, a famous Australian businessman and entrepreneur "I've always worked very, very hard, and the harder I worked, the luckier I got"./

The Colour of Hope: Nguyen Manh Hung, Mechatronics, Ha Tinh College of Technology (Additional Prize)

My life story began roughly twenty years ago at a small, tranquil village. My arrival was such a miracle for everyone in my family, the moment when I first cried while papa, mama and my relatives bursted into tears of happiness was a milestone marking the beginning of a promising tale. Fortunately, although I was not born in a wealthy family, it was surely a great one.All the members always cared and loved one another, a cozy ambiance was present all the time. I grew up under the cover and a huge love from parents. I frankly can not tell how much I love those who gave me a pure book - my life – so that I can create my own story. Lovely, carefree childhood time flied as fast as a blink of an eye, I enrolled in a senior school and developed an fascination in technology and machinery. I saw robots and machines as friends with souls. At high school, I was labeled with laziness, incompetency and eccentricity. No friends, terrible studying results, life appeared extremely dark to me. I have to admit that was a very very harsh time to overcome.

The reason was surprisingly simply because almost the subjects could not trigger my curiosity and interest besides maths and physics. I used to come to the library or an internet café to watch people marking things associated to Arduino, robots something like that. After graduation, I felt fully drifted, there was not even a ray of hope for me to look forwards into the future. All of a sudden, the introduction about an Australian Mechatronics course came and immediately fascinated me.

I was like “ Wow! This is a lifetime opportunity, this is just right for me. But wait, it entails good English.” Nonetheless, I made up my mind not to miss this, I wanted to live with passion. Thence, I clearly recognised one thing that my story was about to move on to another chapter. The order of ink would be the colour of hope, interest, excitement and experiences. Thanks to my eager passion, beloved people ( parents, teachers, and friends) and those who I always admired and idolised have always pushed me forwards. Because of those powerful motivations, so far I have overcome all the obstacles and hardships quite impressively. I have reached some remarkable achievements in both Mechatronics and English. As time went by, the love I give to technology got bigger and bigger, I wanted to learn more on my own. A part – time job was needed to feed this love. However, a job at café or a restaurant was not what I wanted. Luckily, my teachers one day came to me and offered me a part – time job at the workshop completely related to what I have majored in.

The job not only gave me a chance to earn a little money to buy electronic things, but also a chance to practice and enhance skills at what I had learn before. I feel what I’ve done so far is just the beginning of my future career. I now aiming to master more and more in my major and improve English skills further so that I may be able to work aboard later. I want to thank everyone who has always been there for me and helped me to create my life until now. I don’t hope there will not be difficulties in the future but I hope I can still do well.