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Graduated with 2 European master’s degrees at the age of 27, 9x Hanoi still returns to the forest

Mr. Phan Quoc Dung (SN 1995) is a field officer of the project of comprehensive development of the Vietnam Bamboo value chain. He was the double valedictorian of Forestry University in 2018.

Love the forest since childhood

As a child, Phan Quoc Dung was passionate and fascinated with television programs about forests, the world of flora and fauna. The more he digs, the more he finds that the problem of forestry or natural resources in general in Vietnam has not been paid much attention, and this is also a big problem in other countries. He is determined to attend a school far from the center of Hanoi with a field of study that is said to have never been “salty” with young people.

Graduated with 2 European master's degrees at the age of 27, 9x Hanoi still returns to the forest - 1

Phan Quoc Dung – Master’s degree with EU degree in Management of Tropical Forests, Forests and Livelihoods.

In 2013, Phan Quoc Dung became the first valedictorian of Block A, majoring in Natural Resource Management, Forestry University. With unremitting efforts, he is also the valedictorian graduating with a GPA of 3.87/4.00.

As class president and president of the English club, he also tried his hand at and was accepted into short-term student exchange programs and volunteering related to his field of study. In December 2017, he was honored to be one of 16 Vietnamese youth delegates participating in the ASEAN – Korea Youth Exchange program in Siem Reap (Cambodia).

Although he spent a lot of time learning about the mountains and nature of Vietnam, he was quite “shocked” by the difficulty of industry knowledge when he started researching. The first difficulty is foreign languages, because the program is taught entirely in English. Next is to know the scientific names of many species of plants and animals, to access specialized knowledge.

If I had to choose again, I would not change my decision that year. The mountains and forests are love, life, and above all, how I contribute.”

Phan Quoc Dung

Dream come true

After graduating from school, Phan Quoc Dung received a job as an assistant director at the Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Cuc Phuong National Park (Ninh Binh).

Always cherishing the dream of studying for a master’s degree, with the desire to go to developed countries to study and improve the ability to further research on Vietnamese forestry, the dual valedictorian of Forestry University began to learn about scholarships. related to their field of study.

Mr. Dung chose the Erasmus Mundus scholarship funded by the European Union and was accepted into the field of Sustainable Tropical Forest Management with a full support of nearly 50,000 Euros (more than 1.3 billion VND).

With this scholarship, 9X originally from Hanoi was selected two out of five universities in Germany, Denmark, England, France and Italy. He decided to study for the first year at the Dresden University of Technology in Germany and the rest of the time to study at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark).

In the first year of studying in Germany, he concentrated his knowledge on technical aspects in forest protection and management activities. After that, he went to Denmark to study society, the role of managers, forest officers and indigenous people in forest protection and development.

In January and March 2021, Mr. Dung received a master’s degree in “Tropical Forests” (technically) and “Forests and Livelihoods” (socially-oriented) respectively from two universities in Germany and Denmark. .

The most unforgettable memory for him is when defending his master’s thesis in the context of the complicated developments of the COVID-19 epidemic in Europe. “Everything seemed to come crashing down on me.” Mr. Dung said. According to the regulations of the scholarship program, he must do research in a third country, not Denmark or Vietnam.

It is very difficult to contact professors or organizations in a third country and there is not much time left. Dung had to message the situation to a few brothers and sisters and was advised to write a proposal letter for research in Vietnam due to the worldwide impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, he was approved by the scholarship committee and successfully defended his thesis with a score of 10/12.

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Mr. Dung participates in many projects to plant and protect forests.

Back to the forest

Currently, Quoc Dung works for a project on developing bamboo forests in Thanh Hoa and Nghe An, with the main job being to support people in the project area. “I always bring the most advanced knowledge to the community, instructing people on how to exploit and care for bamboo forests to grow well and not lose quality in the long run.” Mr. Dung said.

His work is like bringing science into people’s lives, combining long-standing indigenous experiences to find the best solutions for planting, tending and exploiting forests.

His daily work schedule is not fixed, depending on the assignment. Sometimes in the village to meet relatives, every day with everyone to the forest to work. People are also busy with farm work, so his schedule is quite flexible. Sometimes when it rains, we still go to the forest because we have planned in advance. Although it is difficult to move and a little hard, everyone tries for the common result.

“The most afraid of going to the forest is squeezing and snakes. Snakes are poisonous, but squeezes suck blood.” Mr. Dung said. Thanks to the experience and practical jungle, Dung has a lot of experience for himself such as which forest area, which season, what weather is abundant, snakes; Or when going to the forest, you need to go with some young people or elders in the village for peace of mind.

For Mr. Dung, the work is a bit hard, but the results from the work are what makes him and his colleagues happy. For example, in the past, people harvested and sold trees at a relatively low price, largely because they did not know how to properly care for and exploit trees, as well as have no negotiation skills with buyers. However, when people receive the project’s support and guidance from experts, the tree grows better, exploits more and its value also increases. Listening to people talk about that positive change, he and his colleagues were both happy and happy.

Choosing to go to the forest instead of the city was the right decision for Mr. Dung. 9x always feels the positive values ​​that work brings. In the process of studying and researching, he gradually realized that the gold forest is not infinite and the silver sea is not much. Dung said that it is the poetic thinking that makes resources in the world in general and in Vietnam in particular increasingly depleted.

He also shared that choosing to return to the forest helps him feel comfortable and has a balanced body. After finishing work, sitting in the middle of thousands of people, breathing in the fresh air, listening to the rustling of the trees, the chirping of birds, you will feel relief and serenity in your heart.

“It’s not natural that a lot of young people today are trying to “escape” more. Returning to nature, to the forest, to the sea is one of the journeys to find peace.” Mr. Dung said.

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