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To Stay or Go: Why Families are Keeping Students in Vietnam for High School

Every parent wants what’s best for his or her child, but knowing what that actually means can be difficult.

Deciding how to ensure a child’s happiness and success may become even more challenging when confronted with a plethora of opportunities. That is the reality faced by many families in Saigon when debating whether or not to send their children abroad for secondary school. Three students from Australia International School (AIS) met with Saigoneer to discuss the reasons why their parents decided they should remain in Vietnam, and the positive effects of their tough decision.

Jonathan, a Year 12 student at AIS, is undertaking the ambitious task of curating a film festival and directing a short movie while juggling rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) coursework. The Australia native who moved to Saigon when he was young, discovered a love for film at an early age. His interest was fostered by Mr. Stitz, an AIS teacher who started a film club. Jonathan began developing relationships with people involved in this art form outside of school who helped expand his knowledge.

The upcoming film festival he’s curating, which has taken two years to get off the ground, and the advertising videos he makes, are the result of years of relationship building. Like most students at AIS, Jonathan plans to attend university abroad. Thanks to his decision to stay in Vietnam for his entire career, he has been able to explore his passions in depth, which will help him effectively search for the university that will best suit his interests.

Another example is Milly, who serves as a stark contrast to Jonathan. The Vietnamese Year 13 student had spent her entire schooling within the Vietnamese education system, until her parents made the choice two years ago to send her to AIS. Here, she joined the IB program, which gives students the critical thinking skills, foundational knowledge and awareness of world issues that prepare students not only for higher education, but to be positive contributors to global communities.

Milly told Saigoneer that she and her family are eager for her to attend university abroad, but leaving before high school would have been too large of a shock. Often, international high school students experience a dip in academic performances because of varying cultural and social adaptations, not to mention missing their families. “My parents think I was not ready to live on my own…so here was a pre-step before moving to a new environment,” she explained. Acknowledging that she would never have had a chance for the close daily relationship she has with her parents now, she is grateful to live with them for a few more years.

In addition to nourishing academic passions and providing family closeness, students that stay at AIS have a unique opportunity to form social bonds and a global outlook. Andrew, a Year 12 student, tells a story exemplifying this. He was born in Vietnam, grew up in Australia and moved back to Vietnam at age 11. He was initially worried about returning here, and experienced culture shock. Despite his appearance and heritage, he doesn’t feel fully Vietnamese. The multi-cultural student body at AIS enabled him to make friends from diverse backgrounds. “I’m incredibly glad to move here. When I grew up in Australia, I grew up in a bubble and didn’t know much about the world,” he says, adding, “I came back here and was able to talk to [people of] different cultures, [with] different's learning how to integrate with different people.”

Hardly exceptions, these three students exemplify the advantages of attending international schools in Vietnam throughout secondary school. Executive Principal Dr. Roderick Crouch told Saigoneer that he knows most of the students will be part of the trend of privileged students who attend university abroad: a reality he is proud that AIS’s curriculum prepares them for. Leaving before finishing secondary school, however, carries risks. Oftentimes, studying abroad at a young age can be detrimental for a pupil, creating isolation from other students and robbing them of an extended childhood and more time with their families. Remaining at AIS, therefore, represents an ideal way for them to gain knowledge for future academic success and retain the familial and social ties necessary for meaningful lives.

The Australian International School (AIS) invites all families to come and see all that an accredited IB World School has to offer on Saturday 09 March 2019, 9am – 11am.
AIS has three campuses across District 2 in the Thao Dien and Thu Thiem Wards of Ho Chi Minh City, offering outstanding education in Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary school.
Registration to Open Day is essential via the AIS
Don’t hesitate to contact us 19006940 or if you have any questions.


AIS's website

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Hotline: 19006940

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Xi Campus | 190 Nguyen Van Huong Street, Thao Dien Ward, D.2, Ho Chi Minh City

Thao Dien Campus | APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien Road, D.2, Ho Chi Minh City

Thu Thiem Campus | East-West Highway, An Phu Ward, D.2, Ho Chi Minh City


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