When international graduate student Huong Truong left Vietnam to pursue a master’s degree at Florida State University, she anticipated that her academic pursuits would be joined by the social learning experience of living and studying in a foreign country.
Less expected, though, was the opportunity for Truong to provide a social learning experience to her peers. She found that opportunity in the Global Ambassador Program (GAP), which gives international students and visiting scholars at FSU the opportunity to be cultural ambassadors.
As participants in one of the FSU Center for Global Engagement’s flagship programs, Global Ambassadors share their information about their home country and culture with FSU students, K-12 students and community organizations throughout Tallahassee.
“Exchanging knowledge makes me feel fulfilled, not only from an educational standpoint but also personally,” Truong said. “By engaging in these conversations, I’m bridging the gap between Vietnam, America and other countries worldwide.”
Truong arrived in Tallahassee in 2022 to pursue a master’s degree in Instructional Systems and Learning Technology from the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. The program gives students the skills for a career in instructional design with a focus on technology, learning science and instructional practices.
“When I first arrived here, I felt like I was the one who was receiving knowledge, but GAP put me in the position of giving knowledge to other students as well,” said Truong. “It makes me feel like I’m also making an impact at such a reputable school like FSU, and it connects me to other friends across the country.”
Truong always wears her traditional Vietnamese costume, áo dài, for the sessions, which usually consist of 10-15 minutes of content, including videos, photos and text, followed by a Q&A portion. If time permits, she will also bring Vietnamese food to share, like bánh tráng trộn (mixed rice paper) or sữa chua nếp cẩm (black rice yogurt).
As a student in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, Truong regularly works with professors in the department to combine her knowledge of Vietnam and Vietnamese culture with her passion for learning to give students a unique insight into the evolution of the Vietnamese educational system. She discusses Vietnam from two distinct viewpoints: one of a tourist, highlighting the country’s nature and cultural aspects, and the other of a resident, focusing on economic aspects and opportunities for growth.
Using state-of-the-art technology, students in the Instructional Systems and Learning Technology program participate in research to improve learning systems across different fields. Truong is currently working with FSU’s Learning Systems Institute (LSI) to design and pilot computer-based assessments for the Florida Department of Education.
Truong’s academic pursuits have a lot of influence on her GAP sessions.
“I think that my major really helps me when I work on presentations for GAP because it’s basically designing a learning experience for the student, so I get the chance to apply the instructional design and the learning design process that I’m studying,” Truong said.
The Global Ambassadors Program currently has seven members, representing seven countries: Pakistan, China, Kenya, Nigeria, Japan, India and Vietnam. International students, scholars and faculty at FSU interested in joining the Global Ambassadors Program can apply here.
Organizations and people interested in requesting a Global Ambassador for a presentation or event can submit request details here. Requests should be submitted at least three weeks before the presentation date. Questions about this process can be sent to email@example.com.
“I aim to provide students with a life changing conversation thanks to the program,” Truong said. “Innovation usually starts at these types of intersections.”
Truong said many students have approached her after the session expressing their interest in living and working in Vietnam, another common topic of her sessions.
“They are also curious about visiting some of the more remote and underdeveloped areas, in addition to the urban city, seeking places where they could make a significant impact,” she said.
While Truong works on scheduling her presentations for the spring semester, she is also busy discussing new ideas with her fellow Vietnamese ambassadors, meeting incoming ambassadors and participating in her research with LSI.
For more information about GAP, visit cge.fsu.edu/GAP.