Hi everybody, my name is Sue Vu, and this is me:
This picture was taken for my ISMP (International Student Mentor Program) profile. Besides being a mentor, I also represent Vietnam in the ICSP (International Cultural Service Program), and a coordinator of the Organization of International Student. I am working at the Student Health and Counseling Service, and also doing an internship for a health promotion program – Walktober at PSU. Wow, I know right, this sounds like a lot of work. You all probably think that I am so dynamic.
Let’s look at another picture:
Yes, this is also me – a bookworm, about 5 years ago, when I was in high school. I spent all my time studying, getting the best scores, doing many experiments. You may find this image common, especially in many Asian countries. In Asia, specifically in Vietnam, education is really valued. But education here is shown and proved by grade and tests. Most parents are really strict on grading. Since I was young, my parents always told me to study hard, get a good grade; and if you didn’t study hard enough, you would not be able to get into a good school. For anybody who isn’t familiar with the Vietnamese educational system, we have to take a test to get into high school, and college. These tests are extremely important, and they will put you into the school that matches your grade. So I have done my best to always get a perfect grade, to get into a top school. I only studied and studied, and didn’t participate in any school activities.
This would have never changed if I didn’t decide to go to America. The U.S education system has opened a new door for me about studying. It is the door to the world of being a student leader, learning the exceptional skills set.
It all started when I got into my community college and received much help from all the student’s leaders in the international office. They made me feel like I was welcomed there, and always supported me from academic to a personal situation. Looking at them, I realized that there are so many skills that I don’t have, and I cannot just learn these skills from books. I decided that I wanted to become one of them – a student leader. I wanted to give other students the support and mentorship that I had received myself. Being a leader is also being a role model. This made me more responsible as there may be students who look up to me. Being a leader is not only about helping others but also about helping yourself.
I have been through many different student leader positions during my 4 years of college. Each of them has taught me different lessons and skills. But after all, the most important skill for me is sympathy. Sympathy can mean a lot of things. To me, sympathy starts with not making any assumptions about other people. I always look at the problem with an open-mindedness perspective, same as judging somebody. It is important to fully understand the situation from many aspects and understand the whole story, instead of jumping straight to the conclusion. For example, one of my teammates came late to the meeting, and they didn’t focus during the meeting. I was a little bit angry at first, but when I talked to them afterward, they said that there were some family problems back in their country and they came late because they received an urgent call from their family. Communication can also be key when solving the problem, but without having sympathy in the first place, it can create many conflicts. I always remind myself to think of other people and try to put myself in their shoes.
From the purpose of helping and giving back, leadership skills have pushed me this far in my leader’s journey. Looking back on it, I feel like I have learned and improved a lot, but a leader always needs to move forward and like what they said – there is always room for improvement! Graduating from college, and leaving all these leadership positions behind, doesn’t mean that I am not a leader anymore. I am still a leader, it is shown through my actions, not only the title. I am still a bookworm, but a bookworm leader! I hope that after this blog, some of you may find the skills I share helpful or is inspired to become a leader!