Like the 60 students she supports in the CEF sponsorship program, Vy Nguyen knows exactly what it’s like to be poor and want a good education. Now married with a 10 month old daughter, 28 – year old Vy has been working with CEF for 3 years assisting the students under her mentorship through all levels of education up to, and including, university.
Vy graduated from university with a degree in English, specialising in Business English. She counts herself as being lucky as her parents encouraged her to finish school and continue with her studies. She had no mentorship from either her parents or her teachers, though, and was unaware of the variety of subjects she could have studied when she left school. Her family were also unable to provide her with a computer to do her own research, so she applied to do English as this was her strongest subject in school.
Vy considers mentoring to be one of the most important aspects of her position at CEF and prides herself in knowing each of her 60 students personally – 8 of whom are at university. She talks to them once every month and visits them twice per year. In between those times, if the girls have any troubles with their studies, their friends or their family, Vy’s door is always open to listen and help in any way she can. The women working at CEF describe themselves as ‘big sisters’ to the girls that they mentor, and Vy is no exception.
Vy had no mentor during her education so was unaware of not only what subjects she could study at university, but what careers were available after graduating. She ensures that all the students under her care are armed with the best possible knowledge so they can make considered choices as to their future. She told me that if she had known more, she would most likely to have studied Japanese or Korean, as well as English, and pursued a career as a translator.
Lacking knowledge of careers, on graduating Vy began to apply to hotels for a job in tourism. She described not being accepted into anything as ‘failing’, but I reminded her that she wouldn’t have been doing what she’s doing now if she’d gone down that path; that it didn’t work out for her because, frankly, her talents were needed elsewhere. She went on to become a translator and Personal Assistant for an NGO that helped children with disabilities before starting work with CEF. Her duties with CEF are varied and include giving talks on child abuse and human trafficking as well as being ‘big sister’ to her students.
In Vy’s own words: “I feel very proud of my students and myself, knowing that I am encouraging them to get good grades. When they tell me that they are satisfied with their choice of subject at university it makes me feel good and motivates me to continue my work with CEF. I know that in the future their parents and their sponsor will also be proud of them.”