Increase in Vitanamese Students Boosts Club

Simran Dali ’22, Staff Writer

The number of full-time students with Vietnamese citizenship on campus has doubled from last year and has overtaken acceptance of Chinese international students for the first time. The lift is reflected in membership enrollment in the Vietnamese Student Association on campus. 

“We really hadn’t anticipated the increase in numbers. It definitely came as a shock to us, a pleasant one but a surprising outcome nonetheless,” said Hannah Nguyen ’21, president of the Vietnamese Student Association.

There are now 36 first-year students on campus with Vietnamese citizenship, double last year’s number. The total amount of students with Vietnamese citizenship has increased each year since 2015, from 43 in that year to 49 the following, 56 in 2017 and 80 the year after that, according to Bethany Parliament-Chevalier, the senior data analyst of the office of institutional effectiveness.

Total student body was 2,370 in 2015, 2,356 in 2016, 2,325 in 2017 and 2,345 in 2018. 

Nguyen said the number of Vietnamese students joining the club was 32 this year, nearly double from last year.

Nguyen said the increased numbers will be beneficial for both current and future students. “Knowing that there is a big community of people who come from the same country” is helpful for students in “transition from Vietnam to the United States.” 

Brian Atkins, director of International Admissions, confirmed the number of Vietnamese international students accepted in fall 2018 was higher than that of Chinese students, which is a recent first for Dickinson, though “that is not indicative of our current overall international student population on campus.” 

“The shift in the demographics of the entering class of 2018 was neither intentional nor expected,” said Atkins. 

“We are not changing our outreach tactics for the current school year as a result of the change in demographics in the entering class of 2018,” said Atkins. “We do have a long-term plan for our outreach which we adjust slightly each year but any adjustments made this year were planned well before we knew of this year’s enrollment of students from China and Vietnam.”

Nguyen said one reason for the increase of Vietnamese students on campus could be because Dickinson is interested in accepting more Vietnamese students who “perform well as students. And, our contribution to the campus community is significant.” Nguyen also said that Vietnamese students “have much to offer in terms of cultural diversity.”

Hoang Vo ’22, who is from Vietnam, added that “part of the reason why [Dickinson] may have taken in so many Vietnamese students is probably the academic success of the current Vietnamese students and alumni here.”

Tra Pham ’22 is from South Vietnam and she said “Dickinson has a great reputation for hosting students from places all around the world and providing them with an environment that gives them a heart-warming sense of belonging.” She said this is “why [Vietnamese students] feel like [they] will be welcomed, valued and embraced here.”

Still, Vo said having a “home away from home” can have its drawbacks. It “creates a sort of bubble for [students] because you will be more likely to socialize with students primarily of your community,” Vo said. “Having fewer students from your community will force you to get out of that comfort zone and befriend people of more diverse backgrounds.” 

“I’m happy to see a huge presence of Vietnamese people on campus and that an official Vietnamese Students Association is in operations to support this growing circle as well as to promote the Viet culture to the Dickinson community,” said Winnie Li ’19. 

“However, I certainly notice that the larger the circle, the harder it is for us to get to know one another personally,” she said.

For Annie Le ‘22, it was the “school environment which is quite similar to that in Vietnam, in terms of small class size and the attention given to students.” She said additionally the “school is located in a peaceful and safe area, which gives us an ideal environment to live and study.” 

Le’s decision was also influenced by Dickinson’s financial aid offer. “Most Vietnamese students do not have the opportunity to study abroad without the financial assistance,” she said.

Colin Shanahan ’22 contributed to the reporting of this article.