British Council

Nguyen Dinh Ton Nu, a high school student who earned a major scholarship from Harvard University, said that her 5-years spent studying at the British Council was instrumental to her finding her own path in life.

It was early summer 2017 when Nguyen Dinh Ton Nu rocked the world of local youngsters as the media reported on her success as the Vietnamese girl who had won a 7 billion VND scholarship to prestigious Harvard University. The 18-year-old former student from Hanoi Amsterdam School for gifted students was also able to convince three other American universities to reserve a scholarship for her. However, setting aside her own expectations and those of her family, Ton Nu wrote a letter to Harvard requesting a one-year postponement so that she could stay in Vietnam to live life, try different jobs and experience both success and failure. In late August 2018 she left for Harvard, where she has chosen to major in either human science or philosophy, whichever she decides is most to her liking.

This exceptional student learned her English at the British Council from the 3rd to the 8th grade. Apart from studying English, she also participated in many other activities like acting in plays as a 4th grader, making movies with her friends, and writing essays in 6th and 7th grades – earlier than her peers by four or five years. One teacher at the British Council impressed Ton Nu profoundly – Mr Robert. “When I was in the 6th and 7th grades, he taught us so much, not just a few paragraphs but a whole book,” she recalled. “He taught us English through movies, guided me and the class on how to make a movie, how to analyse a story, and how to write a creative script based on that story. He set the bar high but not too high. He allowed us to move freely with our minds and explore our creativity, but remained present to help us throughout the entire process.”
It was those years studying at the British Council that helped Nu achieve a breakthrough in how she thinks. It was there that she found a love of learning that motivated her to pursue and achieve the goals that she has now succeeded in attaining.

Studying for this young woman is joy. Ton Nu not only studies at school, but also reads extensively. At home, while Nu’s mother taught her how to be independent, her father has always encouraged her to read, and from a tender age. It was her parents’ encouragement that prompted Nu to always question, explore problems, remain focused and think deeply, all in the pursuit of greater understanding of the world, both the outer world and the world within oneself. Ton Nu values highly the ability to learn autonomously. “To love something, you must learn it yourself, be independent, stand on your own two feet, and dare to delve into your feelings, encounter questions, accept failures and deviations. You must be courageous enough to accept all that to remain passionate about learning.”

On her study path, Ton Nu shared with us that, “The British Council is very important to me, and may even be one of my most influential sources of inspiration. I can share my views on Western styles of studying, on personal freedoms and self-determination, all because of my days studying at the British Council. It is where I came in contact with international teachers and came to know more about education in the West. I absorbed a lot about learning itself, and how to raise questions and answer them. The five years I spent studying at the British Council helped me greatly in finding my own way forward.”

“My time studying at the British Council is a source of inspiration for my academic life and a model for me to follow what has so far been a very inspiring path.”