The “Big Sister” of First-Year Vietnamese Students in Russia

Doan My Linh (born in 1990) is currently a lecturer at the Faculty of Marketing, Russian Economic University, Plekhanov. In addition to teaching, she spends most of her free time on activities to support Vietnamese students.

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The enjoyment of working with new students

Every time there is a new batch of Vietnamese students, Mi becomes extremely busy: She has to help these international students with admission procedures, find accommodation, buy medicine, or take sick students to the hospital.

In the eyes of many students, Mi is like a big sister, a consultant on many issues from studying, cultural subjects, or problems related to daily life in Russia. As a foreign student support specialist, Mi has taken care of many generations of international students.

Because Mi herself understands the difficulties of the language barrier, she has launched a project called “Learning Russian from the soul” which includes a lot of methods to solve the problems that many Vietnamese students in Russia are currently facing.

Mi confided that the idea of “Learning Russian from the soul” was formed when she witnessed many children who followed their parents to Russia when they were young. Due to their poor Russian, they had many difficulties integrating and did not understand the lesson in their classes. Around 10 years ago, she received an offer to tutor young children so that they could better understand their lessons. She brought these children Russian culture, taught them how to integrate into the environment so that they could make new Russian friends, and made their lives more interesting.

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Doan My Linh, a lecturer at Plekhanov Moscow University of Economics. Photo: Vietnamtimes

Not stopping at guiding international students to familiarize themselves with Russian culture, she continues to support them by giving them advice on choosing the right university or major. As a result, many of Mi’s students have entered the Plekhanov University of Economics, they have the opportunity to pursue their passion and continue the path of extending the same kindness to help new Vietnamese students.

Supporting Vietnamese students with integration

Realizing the effectiveness of education, as well as the importance of listening and speaking skills, she continues to open a “Speaking Club”. Currently, she is doing some test runs before deploying on a larger scale to support students who still can’t speak Russian well. The content of discussions in Russian can be hot topics in life that young people are currently interested in, an interesting tourist destination, or some meaningful activities for some holidays in Russia. Ms. Mi believes that randomly choosing a topic will help students not get bored and increase interaction so that they can develop their listening and speaking skills better. In any language, these two skills are very important and take practice to master.

In the Speaking sessions, besides those who are not yet fluent in Russian, Mi’s former students, or those who have lived in Russia for a long time. They attend classes to build relationships, as well as show off the richness of this language. As a result, after the first few Speaking sessions, the new students have become less timid, they want to share and understand more through communication in Russian. Mi wants to be a pioneer to replicate this Speaking Club model further in the future.

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Plekhanov Moscow University of Economics. Photo: Vietnamtimes

An equally important part is the direct support that she gives to students who are having difficulty communicating and understanding classwork. According to Mi’s statistics, the number of Vietnamese students who go to Russia every year is about 1,000, and more than half of them find it difficult to learn Russian. It is very difficult for them to catch up with the intensive study program after only about 7 months of preparatory Russian. She has created a website dedicated to supporting and guiding students and masters to be able to write good essays or fulfill the requirements in class. This site has practical implications for everyone in general and can be customized for each individual.

The site is now live but needs more time to test its usefulness. Mi believes that having a reputable site that students can use to solve their problems will help them feel more comfortable as they learn Russian. As a result, they will not waste the knowledge that they receive in the course. Once this site is used by more students, Mi will be able to support hundreds of students at the same time and share her experiences and knowledge with them.

Da Quang