'I have the desire to make a difference to the lives of people in Vietnam...'
Speech Language Therapist, Vietnam
With speech therapy a relatively new field in Vietnam, Nguyen decided on studying postgraduate Speech and Language Pathology to better support developing practices in the region.
‘I have the desire to make a difference to the lives of people in Vietnam, by developing the knowledge base of child speech development, narrowing the gap in research literature in this area and enabling more access to intervention,’ she says.
As a practicing Speech Language Therapist, Nguyen’s role involves working with children with language and communication difficulties at a special education school.
‘My typical day at work includes meeting with special education and other team members such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists, and seeing the children for individual therapy sessions,’ she says. ‘I am happy that I can contribute to the development of the area in my country and helping the children in need, using the knowledge that I have gained from the courses at UC.’
When first looking at overseas study, Nguyen’s fascination with New Zealand made it a perfect destination for travel and cultural opportunities.
‘New Zealand is a multicultural nation, with a fusion of Māori, Pacific Island, European and Asian people combining to make a vibrant and colourful society. Kiwis are friendly and pleasant and easy-going.
‘New Zealand is also one of the most beautiful and peaceful countries in the world. I am happy that I have travelled to most major parts in the North and South Island. My favourite place is Queenstown which is a very beautiful city in the South Island. I also took a stroll around Christchurch City Centre at weekends and enjoyed get-together events with my classmates on a regular basis.’
UC in particular was a great opportunity, ‘with students from all corners of the globe studying and socialising together’, and the academic strengths of its speech-language programmes being a particular draw for Nguyen.
‘The SLP programme at UC is New Zealand’s most established, and the Department of Communication Disorders is the national resource centre for information and professional education in communication disorders,’ she says.
Nguyen completed two summer courses online while still in Vietnam before coming to New Zealand and starting her master’s, receiving a New Zealand ASEAN Scholar Award.
Through the NZ Aid Programme at UC, Nguyen received a lot of support when first beginning study to get to know fellow students and gain academic advice.
‘I took part in social and cultural events organized by Student Care Team for NZ Aid students such as Cultural Nights and “Secrets to Success” workshops. Those were great opportunities for international students to catch up with each other. The Academic Skills Centre organised English speaking and listening workshops every semester which helped international students to improve their English and get to know each other.
‘I really enjoyed my time at UC. I have learned a lot from the course itself and have made lots of friends during my time there. The environment at UC enabled students to maximise their learning capacity and made international students like me feel almost like home.’
UC’s emphasis on clinical practice was exactly what she needed to build experience working directly with a variety of patients and cases, and develop skills to bring back to Vietnam.
‘Throughout the MSLP degree, I have learned about speech and language development, swallowing, fluency and voice across the lifespan. It helped me expand my theoretical knowledge and gain valuable clinical experience in working with different populations, from school-aged children with speech and language difficulties to older people with communication issues following a stroke or brain injury.
‘The degree itself is challenging but what you will gain is very rewarding. I learned a lot from distinguished professors and experienced clinical educators. The learning environment is open and relaxing which helps student maximise their abilities.’
With her rewarding career already making an impact on children’s speech difficulties, Nguyen looks forward to further supporting the growing field in Vietnam.
‘My long term career goal is to contribute to development and delivery of training programs for speech language therapists, teachers and parents who work with Vietnamese-speaking children in Vietnam and internationally,’ she says. ‘I also hope to conduct research on different aspects of speech and language development for Vietnamese speaking children, which in turn will support the assessment and intervention for speech and language disorders in this population.’