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Random questions (derived from my AH application)

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

A random collection of questions


1. If you were to organize a panel discussion on your home country, please provide examples of ongoing economic, political, cultural, military, or other issues that you would discuss. Why would these topics be good choices?

Green growth


All countries are struggling with a dual goal: economic development and environmental protection. However, in the case of developing countries, there are more unique challenges to overcome to achieve a sustainable future. The constant dilemma between the green and brown agendas remains unresolved, it is not only about conserving the environment but also about fighting poverty, improving sanitation and so many other issues. The big question that has not been answered is how to use less but provide more at the same time within a limited amount of resources?

Binh Thanh, HCMC, Vietnam

There is a rising trend in Vietnam toward sustainable development. The green agenda has been integrated into many aspects of society as well as the economy. For example, the number of green buildings is going up, the government starts emphasizing sustainability in regulations. But it has not seemed enough yet and there are many problems practicing green development. So, what are possible solutions? What can be improved?

Therefore, in my opinion, green growth would be an interesting topic for a panel discussion. Because panelists from different nations, as well as the audiences, would be able to share their own stories, their countries’ stories, and experiences so that we could learn from one another.


Financial inclusion

Saigon Skyline

How Vietnam has transformed the entire country’s inclusive finance in a very short period of time by applying technology?

Reason: until about 3 years ago, cash had been the most popular form of transaction in Vietnam, however, nowadays, internet banking, mobile banking, contactless payment including QR codes are available for most trade activities such as supermarket, public transportation, and even small vendors on the street. They are used everywhere in this country by almost everyone. So, it would be gripping to discuss this topic and see the dynamic of the digital transformation in the country of which the economy has been considered mainly agriculture.



2. What brief readings (short story, poem, etc.) would you select to give a glimpse into your culture? Why?

Reading 1:

Poem: Banh Troi Nuoc by Ho Xuan Huong - The Floating Cake (Translated by John Balaban)


My body is white; my fate, softly rounded,

Rising and sinking like mountains in streams.

Whatever way hands may shape me,

At center, my heart is red and true.


This reading firstly aims to introduce the life of Vietnamese women in the past, and secondly, presents a remarkable woman in Vietnamese literature history who was talented, determined, and brave.


The poem uses a popular type of cake as a metaphor to describe women’s fate back in the 18th century in Vietnam. The first half tells about the powerlessness of women during the feudal era, women were not able to decide their own lives. However, the second part affirms that despite the uncertainty of fate, they always keep their own dignity and maintain their true value.


The author Ho Xuan Huong, also known as The Queen of Nom poetry, was an excellent example of a woman breaking the glass ceiling in her generation. She was the symbol of feminism, her works illustrate her independence in thinking, her sense of humor to scorn societal norms in the 18th century.


Reading 2:

Folk poem: LOTUS

“In the pond, the lotus flower is beautiful

Green leaves, white flowers, yellow stamens

Yellow stamens, white flowers, green leaves

Near mud but it does not stink like mud.”


Lotus is Vietnam’s national flower. But more than that, the folk poem uses lotus as a metaphor for human life to encourage people to always be good regardless. The core meaning is that, as long as a person keeps his/her innocence and their true value, they shall not be affected by surrounding bad people, negative environment, or circumstances, which are metaphorically represented by the mud. This folk poem has been featured in the elementary education textbook to incept this beautiful idea to children, as a result, all Vietnamese people know and remember it as one of the very first life lessons.


3. What movie from or about your home country would you be interested in showing for an event, and why?

The Mekong River with Sue Perkins. Episode 1.


In the first 20 minutes of Episode 1, the viewers will learn about the typical lives of the most vulnerable population in the Mekong Delta Area – the delta region most threatened by climate change in the world. Although the documentary does not strongly emphasize climate change nor any other scientific-related topics, it shows the daily lives of two families who are carrying out their own businesses to earn their livings, also expressing their simple happiness, their dreams, and their hopes for a better future so that their children will have better lives. These stories will help viewers to imagine how much more difficult the lives of Mekong people would be if they are hit by sea-level rise caused by climate change.


4. As part of Ashdown’s coffee hours, you will be asked to make a five-minute presentation on your country. What would you be interested in talking about, and why?

Hoa Dao (Cherry) - My parents' house, Chi Linh, Hai Duong, Vietnam - Tet 2020 - 2021

Tet holiday* culture of Vietnamese families: traditional food, what old people do, what young people do, what the whole family usually do together, how they decorate their houses, what is considered luck or taboo.



Tet is the most essential event of the year for every Vietnamese, it’s the time when all family members reunite and show their love for one another. Many traditions might fade a little over time, but Tet has been never become less important in Vietnamese people’s hearts.



*Tet holiday: Vietnamese (lunar) traditional New Year’s Eve


August 2021

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