Nhu An Lam Duc: An Olympian Alumnus returns to Vietnam and starts up

After a close meeting with grade 10 students at the Olympia Schools, Nhu An Lam Duc has shared his opinions about challenges and options he had to encounter with us.

Each personal story, each advice is not “one-size-fit-all” for every student with American dream but hopefully, it could support each student to some extents with their ambitious road to America.

This philosophy about “suitability” is also used by Lam Duc to describe his project Mora which has been being conducted by his colleagues and him. Mora is an website/application to connect students who want to study abroad and counsellors with living experiences in America to equip students with knowledge, realistic experiences to prepare for the upcoming journeys.

7 years in America with lots of challenges

American dream is invariably cherished; repetitively appeared on media, press with various stories about Vietnamese students in America or on the fancy photos posted on Instagram; and even in the report of UCC department at the Olympia Schools about the destinations which are frequently selected by Olympians when studying abroad. America is always a wonderful place termed with plenty of beautiful names.

The glory always goes in sync with difficulty. “When I were home, everything was within my comfort zone. Going to school, participating in extracurricular activities… everything was so comfortable. However, since I came to America, no one asked you about everything. You need to remember your due date of your assignment, find your own part-time job. Even when you are sick, there will be no one coming to your room, knocking on your door and giving you a pad, “Hey are you alright? Are you homesick?”.

There is almost no one to go through these days with you.

Therefore, when getting into trouble, I need to proactively find the support. Definitely, someone can give you a hand and help you.

Afterwards, students all have to face up with initial shocks: Someone breaks up with boyfriend/girlfriend, gets sick, someone’s family goes bankrupt… They are all unforeseeable which can come at one time, especially when your family is not on your side. With Lam Duc, his first shock was when one of his close friends since grade 1 passed away.

“We were 18 at that time. He passed away at 18. I was too far from home and unable to do anything; coming back home was impossible. I didn’t know why he passed away or what had happened. It was such a tough time of confusion and crisis”.

Beside the sorrowful story at the age of 18, Lam Duc also had the happiness to balance his life. Lam Duc has his close friend - Hoang Khanh (another alumnus from the Olympia Schools pursuing master course at Harvard) and other partners at Mora side by side.

Options and risk acceptance

At the University of Saint John’s, Lam Duc chose the Risk Management Department and then he worked for Colas Corporation - a famous multinational corporation about infrastructure, tarmac in America. There are many stories of young people like Lam Duc who have been accepted to well-known corporations, live a desirable life with well-paying jobs, great wellfare, stable life. His life was centered around a loop for around 3 years: Going to work, coming back home, going to bed and then start over again. At the weekend, he can go out with his peers and relax.

“I have no objection to this lifestyle; who knows my future can turn out to be like this. However at that moment, there is something “not right” and it keeps lingering in my mind”.

At the beginning of 2018, one of Lam Duc’s close friends told him about the idea of Mora. With experience in online consultation for an education agent in Vietnam, he is fully aware of weaknesses of traditional consulting model: High fee, high restriction from the agent with consultant or the unsuitability between consultant and student. America is such a huge country with differences varying among different states; all majors are increasingly extended but divided into numerous sub-majors. Hence, even a person residing in America for quite a long time finds it hard to know them all. As such, choosing a right agent or consultant will help student to save time, effort and money for family.  

Keeping that mindset, Lam Duc and his friends have proactively launched the idea of Mora from April to August. At that time, they still had their full-time job and coming back and forth between Mora and their full-time work was slightly tedious.

On a November night came a call from his colleagues, without contemplating, Lam Duc made his decision: “Alright, it was time to go home”.

“Now I can stay focused on my full-time job, for the passion I have pursued albeit it can turn into a mistake, failure or end up nowhere”.

There are lots of joys, positivity pervaded from his humorous stories: “It is great to have a person who always think about risks so that he can guide everyone to the right direction”. However, anyone can see his maturity, fierceness and profound passion: “Someone used to help me to distinguish between recklessness and risk-taking attitude. You have to ponder back and forth, evaluate and accept all incidents. Probably it was my story with Mora”.

The journey ahead with Mora is still rough and full of risks, as what Lam Duc has shared with us on a busy morning of last days of the old year. However, risk and acceptance is a priority of the youth which someone could not dare to pluck up all courage to do in the future.