Hi, I’m Susie France and it is my wonderful task to look after many projects for The Langports Foundation. I have been asked to write a blog to talk about the Graduation of Trong, our first scholarship student for the SAYL program. (Study Abroad a Year At Langports).
John France, through The Langports Foundation, set up this new scholarship program for a dis-advantaged youth to give someone a life changing experience, and offered the first scholarship to our partner Foundation in Vietnam, Blue Dragon. Blue Dragon work with street children and youths who come from extremely poor families.
Trong arrived last January 2017 to study at Langports Sydney and graduated last Thursday 25th January 2018.
Trong is from Hanoi, Vietnam. He had a disadvantaged childhood and was taken in by the Blue Dragon Foundation who looked after him in one of their homes sheltering street kids. Trong was given the opportunity to live a ‘normal’ life, with a bed to sleep in, food provided and a school to attend. He finished High School when he was 19. Then he applied and received the SAYL scholarship for 2017.
Trong was given the opportunity to learn English for one year, but it was expected that he would gain many other valuable experiences that would help him change his life for the better. He learnt about himself; how to make decisions and to become an independent adult.
He learnt about other cultures, their interesting or challenging differences, attitudes and social behaviours. He learnt how to get a part-time job, budget his money, travel and share accommodation. He made many friendships and learnt how to be a valuable friend, and most importantly he learnt to be confident.
At Trong’s Graduation he was given the opportunity to address his fellow students. (You may have been there if you are a Sydney student.) He reflected upon his time with Langports, Nicole, his Principal, the wonderful teachers and support staff who became his ‘family’. He acknowledged his home-stay family, Bronwyn and Paul, who gave him a chance to experience living in a family, the first time since he was 7 years old, when his mother died. He thanked the France family for his holidays, Anna France for being his first ‘sister’ and in particular John France, who had given him the chance to experience this amazing year.
When Trong arrived he was not able to express himself as his English level was just Level 2. He graduated in Level 5 and gave an entertaining and inspirational speech.
I was able to chat to him quietly on his last day in Australia. When asked what this experience had given him, English was not his first response although he acknowledged this will help him so much to get a good job in the future.
Trong said he had learned to be happy, smile and to share his problems with others. He learned this from his Brazilian friends who were happy people who shared their problems with him after only a five day friendship! He found this enlightening. Before his stay in Australia, Trong had experienced many difficulties in his young life which he didn’t feel he could share with anyone. He always felt his problems were just too heavy. He thinks that this strategy of communication would help him in the future and he can ask advice and get support from others.
So studying a year at Langports will improve your English, that is for sure, but what you learn is so much more.
Congratulations Trong! We look forward to hearing from you. We all hope that you can make your dreams of University study come true and that the SAYL scholarship has given you a BIG step up!
In 2018, there will be two SAYL scholarship recipients, again from Vietnam. We look forward to welcoming them to Brisbane and Sydney very soon. Watch this space!