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By Rebecca Edwards ’21

When he started college, Tung Nguyen ’22 didn’t even keep a journal. Now, he’s a nationally recognized travel blogger in his home country of Vietnam. 

In between his first and second year at Macalester, Nguyen enrolled in a Semester at Sea program. “It was basically like The Suite Life on Deck,” Nguyen says. “It was such an amazing experience, I felt like I needed to share it with someone.”

Nguyen started writing with the intention to inspire students in Vietnam to “dream and pursue the endless possibilities of life, regardless of their personal backgrounds.” It didn’t take long for his new project to pick up steam abroad. Within a few months, he was getting requests to visit cities and villages up and down Vietnam. 

“I posted a story on Instagram and I said, I’m thinking of doing a tour,” Nguyen says. “I want to visit ten cities; is anybody willing to host me? And soon I got responses from seven people from seven different provinces saying, we’ll host you, we’ll feed you, come stay with us… When I first started my journey, I had no clue where I was going to go, who I was going to meet, where I was going to get the money, or even what I was going to talk about. “

At Macalester, Nguyen studies experiential education—a practice he was eager to bring to the stage on tour. “It was very interactive, because I didn’t want it to just be about me,” Nguyen says. “I wanted to listen to their stories and learn their thoughts on the issues we discussed as well.”

Over the course of his tour, Nguyen was able to visit with over 600 students, teachers and parents in 12 events across the country. One highlight of that experience, he says, was watching two young women from a small city present to the crowd their plan to bring extra-curricular activities to their community. 

“They did an incredible job,” Nguyen says. “And they thanked me afterward for encouraging them to pitch their idea. They had been nervous and they said nobody had pushed them that hard before. When I was thinking before about the most valuable lesson I learned writing, it was the concept of risk-taking. To do what you’re afraid of. By doing that, you open so many doors.”

August 31 2020

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