Vietnam is a country that extends along eastern coast of Southeast Asia, 11 thousand kilometers away from Turkey. In the recent years, Vietnam, a country that is remembered for the war in which big states were involved from 1960’s until 1975, has been developing its cooperation with Turkey in the field of higher education.
As a result of this cooperation, Mai Bui Xman came to Ankara, Turkey in 2007 to get his university degree. Mai Bui Xman learned about Türkiye Scholarships from a friend who works at Vietnam’s Ministry of Education, and when he told about this to his family, he got an expected reaction: “Don’t you think Turkey is a little bit too far? But if you are really going to study, then you should go.” Mai’s hometown Thanh Hóa is close to the coastline, and the main means of livelihood there is agriculture. His family is typical South Asian family that has been living together for generations, and their source of income is sugar beet production. Not being too keen on working on land, Mai liked the idea about studying in Turkey and decided to seize the opportunity.
However, Mai faces issues other than the distance. The first one: the language of education at Ankara Faculty of Political Sciences he got accepted into is Turkish. He says, “Even though I had difficulty with Turkish, it was a consoling privilege to be a student of Political Sciences.”
Another issue was the fact that the beginning of summer in Vietnam was the beginning of winter in Turkey. He complains about not being able to see much sun in recent years due to this difference in seasons.
Although he hadn’t had much prior knowledge about Turkey, an experience from when he was 15 years old brings pleasant memories about Turkey. “In 2002, all Vietnamese people supported Turkey at the World Cup hosted by Japan and South Korea, because our national team uniforms are also red. What’s more, we celebrated after each victory.”
He points out that he deliberately chose studying International Relations: “In my country, very few people can speak Turkish. I am getting a great education in International Relations here, and learning a language such as Turkish will enable me to be one of few people with this quality at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in my country in the future.”
He describes his university education as very “clean” – understandable, clear and with a goal. “I am free to express my wishes and thoughts. This is an opportunity that I wouldn’t have in Vietnam,” says Mai.
“When I’m finished with my studies, I will return to Vietnam and try to convey what I learned here to others in my country. My biggest goal is to return to Turkey, this country that has accommodated me in such a warm and friendly manner for years, as an ambassador. It would make me very happy to work for the prosperity of both Turkey and my country.”