Always aim for the highest score, says Lao scholarship student
Students in Laos benefit from many scholarships provided by foreign governments, which usually involves applying for the scholarship and taking a written test. But the Asian University Network Scholarship programme selects students who get the highest grade in their course of study so they don’t have to pass an exam.
The scholarship is supported by the government of the Republic of Korea and this year an outstanding student at the National University of Laos named Phithavanh Vongthavanh, 24, was chosen as a recipient.

Phithavanh Vongthavanh, who received an Asian University Network Scholarship from the government of the Republic of Korea

Below are excerpts from an interview with Phithavanh:
Q: How did you get the scholarship?
A: I was awarded the scholarship in February while I was studying at the Department of Korean Language, Faculty of Letters, National University of Laos. I was selected to study in the Language Education Institute at Seoul National University after I got the highest score out of all the students in the department.
Q: What are your techniques for success in your studies?
A: I always study hard and do my homework, as well as practice the Korean language with local speakers when I have time.
Q: What are you learning in Korea?
A: I’m studying the Korean language and will complete my course next year.
Q: Why did you choose to study Korean?
A: Because the Korean government provides many scholarships for Lao students and I thought it would be a good chance to study abroad. Koreans are interested in Laos and the number of Korean businesses coming to Laos has increased. In my opinion, it will be easy to get a job after I graduate.
Q: Why was this scholarship important to you?
A: Because it enables me to pursue my academic goals and various interests without the added stress of securing financing and of an uncertain future hanging over my head. Not only did it provide me with money, it has enabled me to learn many things I didn’t know before.
The scholarships provide opportunities for many people to complete their education without assistance from an outside source. Some students may have trouble paying for the degree they need to enter the workforce and become a contributing member of society.
Q: What do you like about the Republic of Korea?
A: As you know, the standard of education there is high and its quality is widely recognised. Students from all over the world go there to study. I like the education system, especially the teachers, because they plan things in advance, such as what students should study throughout the year - and the teachers and students almost never come to school late. Many public places have free drinking water and the quality of the water is good.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I like to go hiking in the mountains with my friends. Sometimes, I travel around the country and visit my Korean friends in their homes to learn about their way of life. After classes, I have a part time job teaching Lao to Koreans who come to Laos for business or leisure.
Q: What knowledge will you bring back to help develop Laos?
A: I haven’t lived in Korea for long, but I’ve gained a lot of experience and learnt many things about the country, such as its culture, history and the reasons for its economic strength. After the Korean War ended in 1953, South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world, but they worked hard to improve the education system and the skills of their citizens. Now the country is highly developed.
Above all, improving education is the road to development. If I can, I’d like to help children who don’t have the chance to study and I would like to build schools in rural areas to help eliminate illiteracy in Laos.
Q: Does your family support you in your studies?
A: My family has supported me every step of the way, especially financially, even when they were short of money. My parents did everything they could to help me and my family moved from Huaphan province to Vientiane so I could study at a secondary school in the capital because my hometown didn’t have a secondary school.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for others seeking scholarships from the Republic of Korea?
A: Students in Laos can benefit from many scholarships provided by the government of the Republic of Korea. The Asian University Network Scholarship is now offered every year after first being made available in 2017.
Students enrolled in the Department of Korean Language at the National University of Laos must have the highest score in their class for selection for this scholarship.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update November 23, 2018)

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