Education Revisited & Becoming a Stranger

Each of us (at least those who care enough to read these conversations) has lived our life being educated, and for some, educating. Yet, we barely have chance to question our own education, most just does it because it is the way of life. Yet, is education inherently good? Or, is it only a tool for something else? How do people thrive in society? What for?

This summer, I am not planning to answer all these big questions, but rather hoping to unravel part of them by three different but related projects.

Project 1: my own research on shadow education in Vietnam and Cambodia. Shadow education refers to a system of private tutoring organized by individual teachers or learning centers to supposedly benefit the teachers (through extra, non-taxed income) and students (through extra lessons). Yet, it begs questions of equity and the true purpose of learning. Through surveys, interviews and secondary literature review, I hope to examine and investigate more on this intriguing problem in the two neighboring developing countries – where shadow education tends to be most prominent.

Project 2: a collaborative summer program between me, three Vietnamese university students and Evan Schwartz – another Ringer fellow, titled “The creative kid project – Build your dream school”. Kids are creative by nature, but in order for their ideas to fully develop, they need to be taken seriously by adults and to see that they can effectively make changes with their creativity. As this project will partner with 3 local middle schools and their students, we hope to have more insight into the perceived rigid and teacher-centered education system in Vietnam, besides creating a meaningful summer for Vietnamese kids who often lack this kind of forums.

Project 3: a Southeast Asian Leadership Network project on Cambodian disabled youth that I will take part as planner for leadership and training workshop. I will work with Cambodian high school students through a series of interactive activities and help them build confidence and comfortableness in working with mentally disabled youth. As I will continue project 1 while doing project 3 in Cambodia, I will learn local knowhows and language from these high school students to fill in my currently non-existent knowledge of Cambodia. This will help me better expand my network there and obtain information for Project 1.

I will alternatively describe the my projects progress through the blog entries, as well as reconnecting them to the main theme of “Education”. This blog will also feature  my thoughts and feelings on “becoming a stranger” – or the process of stepping away from my emic eye and obtain an etic point of view in my own homeland.


  • Creative Kid Project CKP, Linh Dao
    Linh Dao | September 24th, 2012
    I had such a hard time trying to “summarize” my CKP experience. Creating and managing the Creative Kid Project has influenced me in so many ways that any “final report” seems unlikely to do it justice. Thanks to CKP, I have gained so many valuable...
  • Linh Dao | August 24th, 2012
    Before the official launch of The Creative Kid Project, Evan and I were invited to, for the namesake of this program; let’s just call it SMF (Something Meaningful Festival). Our job for SMF was to train their facilitators on how to interact with...
  • CKP - Linh Dao - Creative Kid Project Big Team
    Linh Dao | July 27th, 2012
    picture: CKP Big Team at our first training day with Dreams Catcher Club, 2 weeks before our Project starts. Most CKP members sit (or lie down) in the front row.  During the course of the Creative Kid Project (CKP), Evan and I argued a lot....
  • Linh Dao Brown'13 - FB Insight
    Linh Dao | July 10th, 2012
     “Dear __,  Since you left, the Creative Kid Project has grown much bigger than we could ever expect. We wish you could help us like you did in the beginning, or at least be here to witness what it has become. From a tiny team at first,...
  • Public/Private Division - Linh Dao Brown 13
    Linh Dao | June 28th, 2012
    Until last week, dealing with Vietnamese bureaucracy almost made me believe that in Vietnam, nothing is possible. In the process of meeting with different headmasters from the middle schools that we want to partner, I was told, over and over again,...
  • Hanoi's rain - Linh Dao Brown' 13
    Linh Dao | June 20th, 2012
    The problem with going back home doing research is that going home feels so natural and as-a-matter-of-fact that one can easily forget to prioritize her “main” objective of returning in the first place: doing research. Case in point: it rained cats...