Overseas students: return home or not?

April 7, 2016 | 02:05 am PT
Overseas students: return home or not?
The fact that many Vietnamese students decide to stay in foreign countries where they have studied rather than return home has aroused controversy among Vietnamese people.

"Most people who grow up here and leave for other countries to earn a living don’t come back."

That is what a vendor told me when I was spending a summer's day at Tam Dao Mountain about 80 kilometers from Hanoi. Her words stirred up a sense of sadness inside me.

Then I thought about myself, my friends and acquaintances. We all left our beloved homes behind in search of life-changing opportunities. Hardly any of us returned to our hometowns, and visits are now limited to a couple of days before we get back to our hectic lives.

For some time, the issue related to Vietnamese students who study abroad and never return home has been a concern among Vietnamese people. They wonder why the country does not find a way of retaining its talent, and it's a hard question to answer.

From my point of view, we should look at it in a simple light. Every individual has a home, so the only thing that matters is how far they travel away from it. Vietnamese students who study abroad, to some extent, are simply an extension of the hundreds of thousands of students who flock to the central cities every year for higher education. Those migrants also choose to stay in big cities rather than return to their hometowns after graduating. They face many problems such as congestion, pollution and unsafe food in the big cities, but it is the sense of opportunity that keeps them there.

Everyone has their own desires that motivate them to grasp opportunities. If you find somewhere you feel you belong, where you can find a plum job, where your children can access good education, your life will be more meaningful. For now, I also intend to settle in Hanoi as I think it is difficult to live in a place where there are limited opportunities.

Instead of being stuck thinking about meritocratic policies or brain drain, it is time we thought big. The world has entered the era of global citizens. Overseas students returning to Vietnam will contribute to the country’ development while others who choose to stay in foreign countries will contribute to global development. If each person always moves forward, return or not, it does not really matter.

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