13th annual VEF Conference hosted at ASU

From February 9–12, 2017, Arizona State University successfully hosted the 13th Annual Vietnam Education Foundation Fellows and Scholar Conference. The Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) is an independent U.S. Federal Government agency created with the mission of strengthening the U.S.-Vietnam bilateral relationship through educational exchanges in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM). The annual conference aims to provide a network and support for Vietnamese nationals pursuing graduate and post-graduate studies in STEMM fields in the United States.

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Thomas Kraemer (far left), director of finance and accounting with VEF, poses with the winners
of the educational fair science poster contest. (Photo credit: VEF)

This year approximately 120 participants from across the country came to ASU to attend the three-day conference. The fellows participated in a wide range of social, cultural and educational activities during the conference, including scientific workshops, laboratory tours, an idol night competition and an excursion to the Grand Canyon. The conference was kicked off with a special visit and keynote presentation by Nobel Prize Laureate, Leland Hartwell, who addressed the fellows on trends and challenges future engineers and scientists will need to tackle to create a sustainable future. Fellows were also fascinated by the different viewpoints and topics discussed by high profile guest speakers during the ASU-sponsored panel sessions.

In an effort to provide an opportunity for the scholars to learn more in depth about the areas of study of their colleagues, VEF organized an educational fair for the fellows to showcase and present their research conducted at their respective universities to all participants and guests at the conference. The fellows were praised for the quality of their presentations and research and the expertise with which each scholar showed to be advancing his or her specific field of study.

Another highlight of the conference was the extraordinary musical performance at the closing gala dinner by Emmy Award winner, Vanessa Vo. Vo invited a large group of the audience to accompany her on stage where she taught that the beauty of music can be created even with simple, everyday objects. However, the cultural essence evoked by her mastery of the Dan Tranh Zither, a traditional Vietnamese stringed musical instrument, left dinner guests speechless.


Organizers, participants and volunteers of the VEF 2017 Conference gather together for a final
photo at the gala dinner with Vanessa Vo. (Photo credit: VEF)

The 13th Annual VEF Conference was a great experience not just for fellows and scholars, but also for the volunteers who helped make it possible. ASU aerospace engineering student, Ly Nguyen, volunteered all three days of the event. She commented, “This was a great memory for me to volunteer at this special conference. I got a chance to interact and make connections with talented people. As a Vietnamese student, this was a great opportunity for me to learn about the VEF fellows’ research and get inspired by them. Each and every person that I met taught me something. They are all making a difference in the lives of others, in their communities, in U.S.-Vietnam relations and in the future of Vietnam.”