My Vietnamese name is Nguyễn Minh Hương. I chose the name Bryce because it fits my personality more.
I’m an only child. I’m very close to my parents, but I asked them to give me the independence to explore what I like and take risks. They were really scared that I would get into danger and they would lose their only kid. My mom is a college lecturer, so she was a very big part of my education. She was very intense about me doing the best I could in school, but my dad was a little bit more relaxed.
My parents grew up on communist rations, so I am one generation away from living on rations. They didn’t have a lot and told me stories which reminded me that they worked very hard so I could have what I have. They’re very determined to give back where they can, which has really inspired me. Kindness is what became the most important thing when I was growing up. I try my best to help out when I can, reaching out and being the most forgiving.
Kindness is what became the most important thing when I was growing up.
I grew up in Hanoi, which is the capital city in the north of Vietnam. Hanoi is really crowded, but as a kid, it was not that crowded. Hanoi is still much more historical and conservative compared to Saigon. It suits my personality because I’m curious about things, but I’m also pretty quiet and I enjoy walking around the old monuments and landmarks. You feel like people have been there for thousands of years and you feel that connection with your ancestors, which is calming.
I was a junior in high school when I volunteered with a program called Hanoi Seal Net. They would connect us with community centers, and we would volunteer to teach the children part-time. The kids were really eager to learn and have bigger brothers and sisters helping them. I saw that their parents were struggling financially and they were always at risk of being pulled out of school because their parents valued their help at home more than their education. It was through the close relationships that made me feel like I should do something because I was in a position to help.
Before coming to Dartmouth, I thought that I was going to do an educational minor and major in English literature because I was a big fan of reading books. Those fields aren’t very developed in my country. Then I found Dartmouth, which was a small enough community for me to transition well into life overseas. I felt like it was a good environment to grow in because it was safe, but also rigorous. When I came to Dartmouth, I actually found psychology. Psychology is a good intersection because I can also pursue educational psychology, child psychology, or behavioral psychology. All of those fields are important for working with children or working with educational programs.
Because of the King Scholars program, I’ve been very lucky to meet international friends. Meeting people from around the world and hearing their stories and perspectives made me feel welcome in an otherwise foreign country. I can connect with other international students and feel a sense of community. Learning about their countries’ solutions to similar problems in Vietnam and having access to this important network is good for my future career.
Career-wise, I would like to do more research with an emphasis on Asian psychology. Education is very interlinked with psychology and I feel like the Asian educational system and culture can be very toxic towards young students. Before I can fix the problem, I have to understand it. My goal is to eventually understand the dynamics of an Asian classroom and Asian education and then hopefully work with the younger generation of teachers to try to figure out a different model for education.
I’ve been recognizing deeper issues in American society that are unraveling right now. As an international student and a foreign national, I’m not allowed to protest. It’s frustrating to not have the options. Instead, I’ve been sharing posts in support on social media. I have signed petitions. I try my best to also talk with people outside of the United States so they can understand what’s going on inside the United States.
When people are outside of the United States, they don’t really see the importance of the movement. That’s where I’ve been most active, talking with my friends and sharing Vietnamese translations so people back home can understand. I’ve been talking a lot to my parents and telling them what’s going on. Especially for young people, it’s time for them to talk to their parents about these things and explain why they need to care.
Living here now, I realized that the world beyond Vietnam wasn’t a perfect place. It really helped me mature in the way that I view the world, but also the way that I view progress. I think progress is ongoing as it is in the word itself, but it doesn’t mean that we stop trying.
Huong “Bryce” Nguyen is a King Scholar at Dartmouth College (‘21). She majors in Psychology and is from Hanoi, Vietnam.