February 01, 2019
Dzung Vo, a graduate of Room to Read's Girls' Education Program in Vietnam recently traveled to Zurich, Switzerland to share her story at our annual regional gala. Since we know not all of the Room to Read family attended this special event, we wanted to share her speech and moving story with you here.
My name is Dzung Vo. I wanted to take some time to talk with you about my story and why girls deserve quality education.
I was born and raised in the suburb area of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in a family of five. I graduated from Saigon University, where I majored in Executive Secretary studies. Today, I am a sales manager of a real estate company in Ho Chi Minh City. I’m very proud of where I am, but as you saw in my video, it was not easy to get here.
When I was in Grade 7, I started receiving support from Room to Read. For me, it was such a huge joy because it gave me an opportunity to continue going to school. Education expenses for me and my two brothers have become overwhelming for my father who supported us as a motorcycle taxi driver at that time. Before Room to Read’s support, it became clear my education was at risk, because my family traditionally believes that boys are more prioritized in education than girls. So, if someone needed to drop out, it would be me. But I refused to accept that. I decided to focus all of my efforts on school. So, my parents could see I could accomplish great things if I continued my studies. As a result, I ranked first in class in grade 6 and 7. From there, Room to Read’s support greatly expanded my opportunities.
Room to Read not only supported me financially with tuition fees, uniforms, books and stationery, but also taught me life skills that have been so meaningful in my life. Back then, I never thought I’d stand in front of a crowd like this with confidence. For me, it has been a long road of improving myself.
Before, I was shy. I always stood in the corner of the room because I did not believe in myself. Thanks to Room to Read’s life skills camps, I was given opportunities to participate and present during activities. I learned from other girls and discovered it’s good to speak up. Every girl needs life skills to make important decisions in life - decisions that they can look back and proud of, without any regrets.
There’s a quote, "Women are leaders everywhere you look—from the CEO who runs a company to the housewife who raises her children and heads her household.” If women are well educated, it not only benefits her but also the rest of the family, especially their children – our future generation.
In my case, I tried my best in studying and being helpful to prove that being a girl, I can still do what my parents expect only from my brothers. I helped my brother buy a house and paid for renovating my family’s house. I feel proud and happy to know that some neighbors in my hometown see me as an example for their daughters and now trust them more.
I was so much inspired by Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, who said: “Girls with dreams become Women with vision.” I wish to tell all Girls' Education Program students to believe in themselves, know their value and achieve what they deserve. Today, I love supporting Room to Read girls as my way of paying it forward, by sponsoring a girl’s college fees or speaking at their graduation or career orientation days to share my experiences and inspire them to pursue higher education. My dream in the next 3 years is to open an English center in my hometown so that students here have more chances to practice English, and there of course will be scholarships for disadvantaged children, especially girls.
Having an honor to meet and talk with you all today, I have a strong vision that more poor girls like me would be able to go to school, to unlock their potential, to realize their dreams and to be the owners of their own lives. Thank you so much for listening.