The European International School Ho Chi Minh City community often thinks of itself as a village; a place where we learn together, and where everyone knows and supports each other. Yet while the school is close-knit, its graduating students often have great ambitions to spread that wings to the far reaches of the globe; and EIS provides them with the skills knowledge to take them there.

The last three years have seen EIS graduates go on to universities all around the world, to countries such as Germany, The Netherlands, UK, Bulgaria, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, USA and Canada. Some students also received substantial merit scholarships.

These opportunities have come in part because of the quality of teaching at EIS which has been reflected in the school’s International Baccalaureate Diploma scores. In 2019 the EIS average score was 34.64 (16% higher than the world average of 29.76 points).

But if you ask any of the graduates, they will also tell you their success was supported not only by the knowledge they gained, but also by being equipped with the skills needed to apply that knowledge and get the best out of themselves.

Recently, we had the opportunity to speak to two graduates about their first years of university and how their learning experience at EIS has helped shaped their university experience.

Nguyet Ngo was Class of 2019 valedictorian, and is now at McGill University in Canada studying psychology. Nguyet said an initial challenge was sitting in a lecture hall with more than 500 other students after coming from a much smaller graduating class.

“While experiencing the changes in class size and the environment in general, it was difficult to take a different perspective and find meaning in these difficulties,” she said. “What has been helpful during this time is reminding myself that learning and the joy that comes with it only take place when I feel calm and equipped.”

Nguyet added that going to university deepened her appreciation for the connections and skills she developed in EIS. This included a strong work ethic and the importance of being involved in a broader community.

“Taking the IB Diploma in high school was particularly helpful because the experience gave me a glimpse into the university’s expectations, enabling me to strive for the characteristics of a curious and effective learner,” she said. “Equally importantly, I think EIS students should remember that they each have a capacity for goodness, and in the process of developing ourselves, it is equally rewarding and meaningful to build others up.”

Khoi Anh Pham from the Class of 2018 received a scholarship to attend Saint Mary’s University, also in Canada, where his IB credits have allowed him to jump to second-year coursework. He is currently on study-leave to work full-time at the Halifax Regional Police Headquarters on research projects. He said this allows him to apply his learning and skills to different exciting missions and challenges with the local police department in the city.

“EIS provided me with opportunities to foster analytical and academic skills, and be involved with relevant extracurricular activities that are valuable in university and my career,” he said.

“My experience dealing with an overwhelming number of hardcore assignments and exams from the IB helped me develop resiliency, organizational skills (still procrastinating now, but certainly a noteworthy improvement!), and the courage to take reasonable risks and step out of my comfort zone to improve myself.”

Khoi’s message to current EIS students was to take time to breathe, and not get overwhelmed by the seemingly daunting challenges of their final years at school.

“The skills that I learned come in handy at the most unexpected times, and tripping on a few of them is also a good learning experience. Try to minimize negative feelings, and remember to relax, enjoy the time with friends and make some memories,” he said.