Phan Quốc Dũng on a trip to a remote area. — Photos

During recent years, many Vietnamese young people have not hesitated to give up high-income jobs in foreign countries and return to contribute their efforts to Việt Nam.

Developing Viet Nam’s bamboo

After graduating with excellent results for a master degree in tropical forests, forests and livelihoods at two universities in Germany and Denmark, Phan Quốc Dũng had many opportunities to work at foreign organisations with a salary of more than VNĐ50 million (US$2,000) per month.

But during his time studying abroad, Dũng, 29, from Hà Nội, gained deeper insight into forest resources in Việt Nam. He wished to help the forests.

He studied a major which seems to be of little interest to most young people, but for Dũng, the forest is his love, life and breath.

To keep that "breath" healthy, he returned to Việt Nam in a special situation – on a flight to rescue Vietnamese citizens from Germany during the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2020.

In Việt Nam, Dũng participated in a project funded by the European Union on sustainable bamboo development in Thanh Hóa and Nghệ An provinces.

Currently, he works at the International Cooperation Division of the Việt Nam National University of Forestry.

He is called "the forest man" or "village man" because he often goes on trips to remote areas.

“Focusing on the sustainable and comprehensive development of bamboo and local people, I and the project staff train the community on techniques for planting, caring for and exploiting bamboo effectively. For me, loving the forest is not only caring about its growth, but also about the local villagers’ livelihoods because they are a part of the forest," Dũng said.

In addition, the project also invited leading experts in the industry to train people on how to operate production groups to increase bamboo products’ value, connecting businesses and international partners to enhance the bamboo industry in Việt Nam.

“In my return journey, I have knowledge, experience, and skills so that every time I go into the forest, I have a direction to find and discover something new, useful for the sustainable development of Việt Nam's nature,” said Dũng.

New research field

Trần Diệu Linh at work.

After completing her PhD programme in the biomedical materials field, Trần Diệu Linh, 31, received many offers from foreign research centres, laboratories of institutes and universities, with a starting salary of about VNĐ60 million ($2,400) per month.

At the same time, companies of medical materials and equipment are also interested in her research and inventions. They invited her to work in research departments with even higher salaries.

But she chooses to work at the Institute of Chemical Technology under the Việt Nam Academy of Science and Technology

“I see my path of choosing a research field and returning to contribute to Việt Nam as fate. I do not feel anxiety or regret with my choice. For me, the decision is in harmony with my personal development and my contribution to the research community," Linh said.

Realising that the biomedical materials industry in Vệt Nam is in the early stage of development, different from countries such as the US, Japan and Korea, Linh is excited and full of confidence about its great potential as well as development opportunities.

One of Linh’s outstanding studies received a patent from the Korean Government in 2019 when she created a multifunctional material which could prevent inflammation.

The research has been further developed by Linh and her colleagues. They aimed to apply the research in Việt Nam.

Returning to Việt Nam, the young female scientist confided that she had gained many things and gave to others in the right way.

“I was able to explore a new research land in Việt Nam, form and experience the development of this industry,” said Linh.

“In particular, I learned how to give in the true sense through sharing my knowledge and experiences with the younger generation. I take advantage of the opportunity to teach, guide and create conditions for new students and researchers to join the industry," she said.

Big data

Phạm Huy Hiệu lectures his students.

The choice to return to Việt Nam was already made by Phạm Huy Hiệu before he went to study abroad in France.

"We should not wait for an ideal environment before returning. Young scientists like me need to show responsibility for creating a professional research environment in accordance with international standards in Việt Nam," Hiệu said.

Graduating with an excellent doctorate degree in computer science in 2019, Hiệu came back to Việt Nam and worked as a research team leader at the Institute of Big Data (VinBigData).

He is currently a lecturer at the Institute of Engineering and Computer Science, and Deputy Director of the Smart Health Research Centre under the VinUniversity.

“My research field is computer science and artificial intelligence, so different organisations offer me a pretty good salary, from VNĐ100-200 million ($4,000-8,100) per month. I still choose contributing to Việt Nam,” Hiệu said.

The sacred word "Fatherland" has always been deeply imprinted in Hiệu’s heart, especially every time he reads scientific publications about Vietnamese issues that have high value and are recognised by the world academic community.

Therefore, he came back to directly participate in Việt Nam's scientific research force, directly studying about the most urgent and challenging problems and bringing people together to solve them.

“We do that by building an honest and professional research culture, that meets the highest standards. We want to encourage the spirit of research to serve the community for our students and trainees," Hiệu said. — VNS