H??ng Uyên Bùi: Travel Access Grant Recipient


We are pleased and excited to announce our next TAP grant recipient!  This week we share with you a glimpse of who H??ng Uyên Bùi is in her own words.


H??ng Uyên Bùi

Dear Mom,
I have never made you unsatisfied, at school, I always make my best effort to become the best student in the class. I also study day and night to get the highest prize in many contests at high school. All those time I found that I only have to study, study and study. I do not have time for my hobbies such as art, playing the piano, … in addition, I have to restrict the time for my favorite show, cartoons or films. Even the amount of time I talk to you and dad is less and less, after the meal while you are watching TV and having a talk, I have to sit at the desk and do homework. There are many times when you are at home and I want to confide in you about school, about studying, about my friends, about my future, my emotion,… but I still have to put a priority on completing my homework which seems to be endless. Education at school teaches me competition which has made my friendship with my best friend’s become awful as she is usually the second rank and I am the first rank in the class. This means that you and teachers… usually compare us much. In the class, we are like opponents. We only share with each other personal matter about family, friends,.. however, while studying, we usually keep our solution as the secret. Gradually, we lose the mutual belief… There is some period of time I feel really stressed about that. I feel so bad about myself that I do not want to

talk to anybody, even with you and dad. I try my best to find a solution, but the more I try, the more I reach an impasse. I start to wonder what is the real education, what is its purpose…
The situation is much more serious when I am in grade 12, the national entrance exam put too much pressure on me, besides taking extra classes that last from the beginning of the afternoon till night, I make the most of my time to review the knowledge as well as take some mock tests. The only thing that makes me interested is Internet and Facebook, I follow blog like Successful Dropout, Uncollege,… they really opened up a new horizon for me.

WWOOF and Workaway show me another way to live for free abroad, Digital nomad.  An entrepreneur suggested to me a type of job that I want to work, an independent location.  Schooling around the world, free to learn, dumbing us down, better than college helps me realize what is the real education, education without competition and full of love.

Since I was young, you and many people around said that I had to work hard and get good grades so I could get into a great college, get a job, make money, and then one day, finally do what I wanted.  It’s not that I believe in “breaking the rules,” it’s that I believe that I can make my own. For me, that meant making a lot of money at a young age, working with what I loved, having a large platform to impact others, and doing it in a way that allowed me to sleep in, work in my yoga pants, and hang out in everywhere I love.

As a result, I joined in Vietnamese Community of Independent Learners and it was such a turning-point in my life, which also inspires me to take a gap year.  Vietnamese Comunity of Independent Learners (VCIL) is a network, community, alternative learning environment to provide an affordable, holistic, personalized, self-motivated, practical in the true spirit of education, especially in the context of the 21st century for all learners. VCIL encourages, provides resources and organize activities, projects for the youth to take a gap year or pursuit alternative education instead of going to traditional university.

In the gap year, mainly I will join in the Soil Project of VCIL, we will live together and learn related subjects by self-directed methods such as How to live? (Body and mind cultivation), How to think? ( Philosophy and Critical Thinking), How to Communicate ( History, Culture, Arts, Humanities), Sustainable Living and Economics of Happiness (How to live sustainably harmoniously and happily on Earth?), and Social Enterprise.  We will have plenty opportunities to travel around Vietnam and in the region ( South East Asia and their neighbors) as our way of learning or to learn in the project’s partners campus (school, community, organization, company,…)

Thanks to Travel Access Project, in this year I will also have the opportunity to visit some South East Asia countries such as Thailand, India, Cambodia,… to visit some alternative schools as well as sustainable development centers there. It is such an unbelieve chance for me.

Mom, I really need your support which will give me the power to overcome difficulties and challenges in this year when I will try to step out of my comfort zone….

That is the extract from the letter I sent to my Mom for persusde her to accept my gap year plan…

I am a normal girl from Vietnam, a country where gap year is a strange concept. And it is really unusual to take a gap year after high school. In Vietnam, there is a straight path for children, after high school, get to college, get a degree and then find a job, settle down. I also have been programmed to follow that route, trying my best to get the highest score as I can in national entrance exam to choose the major that helps me get a high paying job after graduating. I studied all day and night, I even do not have time for family, after the meal I have to rush to sit at the desk. Gradually, I realize that life is too boring and meaningless. To me, my family and friends are really important and indispensable. I wonder when I emerge into that straight route when I have too much wish, I will mislead, I will insist on fame, honor, and money. That is why I want to learn more about myself, on one hand, I want to exploit my potential, and determine what I really want to do to make my life more meaningful. It was not until the time I find out a community of independent learners in Vietnam that my mind has changed completely. That I know the real education should focus on liberty, diversity and sustainability and the philosophy of education should be individual-orientation, self-understanding, world-understanding and learn how to learn. I also have the chance to expose to sustainable agriculture, GNH of Bhutan. And I want to live more slowly, more meaningfully.

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