Chevening Chinwag #02: Online Teaching, Virtual Networking Drink, Planting Trees with Chevening
Chevening Chinwag* is a series of informal pleasant conversations with our Vietnamese Chevening scholars, who are currently experiencing their exciting, challenging, and life-changing Chevening journeys.
Read along and you will gain insights into:
- Personal reviews of UK universities: in-class learning method, university facilities, available support to international students;
- Tips on how to maximise their UK experience: attending Chevening activities, university workshops, interning, volunteering, and travelling;
- Advice on how and why you should apply to Chevening.
Feel free to drop in your questions in the comments below, and follow our next editions to see your inquiries answered!
[*] Chinwag (n.) /ˈtʃɪn.wæɡ/: a long and pleasant conversation between friends.
In this edition, Ho Anh Tung – our current Chevening scholar, studying Environmental Technology at Imperial College London – will share with you how his university is a prime example of advanced integration into online teaching even prior to COVID-19 pandemic, glimpses into his graduation thesis on green infrastructure, various meaningful Chevening activities that he had participated in, and why you should apply to Chevening and study in the UK.
Imperial College London is regularly ranked as one of the ten best universities in the world, and is well known for its environmental courses. Could you share with us your personal evaluation of the university, and what stood out to you about the university?
Prior to COVID-19, I had plenty of opportunities to attend courses and events organised by the top academics in environmental engineering. Imperial is home to The Grantham Institute for Climate Change, The Energy Future Labs and The Data Science Institute; all of which carried a respectable network of leading academics. You won’t find a day where there isn’t any interesting conference or seminar taking place.
COVID-19 pandemic had created a lot of changes in ways universities operate. How did you feel about Imperial’s response to COVID-19 and did you receive any support from the department or university during this unprecedented time?
While such opportunities might have been cut short by the current lockdown, the students still receive immense support from the college. With an online teaching system installed well before 2020, both students and staff did not have much difficulty transitioning to web-based education. Having led the research on COVID-19 with other universities, the college was also capable of providing the latest update on the virus and mental health support where necessary.
During this time, many students are working on their graduation thesis, could you offer some glimpses into your thesis topics, and whether you intend to incorporate any COVID-19 element into it?
Prior to Chevening, I spent more than two years conducting due diligence processes for infrastructure projects financed by international lenders. Such experience piqued my interest in sustainable financing employed by development banks such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank. With the recent surge in public’s concern for climate change and its impacts, I’d hope to review the existing environmental and social framework adopted by banks and identify any potential gaps in my dissertation. The desired outcome for my thesis would be recommendation to improve on banks’ existing framework and promote the financing of green infrastructure. The thesis will be conducted under supervision from both Imperial and Oxford.
It is also worth noting that the impact from COVID-19 on future infrastructure investment will be discussed in my thesis. This supplementary section was recommended by a professor teaching Health Data Analytics and Machine Learning in Imperial. While he was not working on the field of sustainability, he was interested in the thesis regardless and made a brilliant recommendation.
Cheveners utilise their time in the UK doing a lot more than just excelling in their classes. Could you share with us some of the most interesting extracurricular activities that you have been able to do, either pre-COVID or post-COVID?
My best decision last year was to bring my loved ones to the UK and enjoy Christmas together. We had such a wonderful time visiting the different Christmas Markets, ice skating in Winter Wonderland and enjoying Boxing Day shopping. The Christmas nightlight in London was truly photogenic with activities and crowds of people that would be hard to find nowadays. If I had planned for an Easter visit, it would have turned into a disaster.
It was also fortunate that I was able to partake in Tree for Cities’s initiative to plant 10,000 urban trees in 11 cities across the country together with many other Cheveners. The event took place on February 11 when hundreds of volunteers including Cheveners took to Marnham Fields in the London Borough of Ealing. It was there that we joined hands to improve the woodland habitat for the stag beetles, reduce air pollution and enhance urban greenspace.
Even during COVID, Chevening continued to provide scholars with networking events and the one that I joined was the Chevening Sustainability Network drink. The last one that we held on the 4th of June recorded more than 30 participants on Zoom. We had two presentations with a notable Chevening alumni from British Petroleum (BP). Most sustainability presentations from the oil & gas industry would spark intense questioning from the audience and that day was no exception. Regardless, everyone was respectful in their discussion and we had a blast exploring the different perspectives on this matter.
Finally, do you have any words of wisdom/advice for applicants who are interested in applying for Chevening, but might be hesitant as to 1. Thinking that Chevening is too difficult;
2. COVID-19 study implications?
I don’t think the applicants for this year or any subsequent year should be deterred by the situation surrounding their time of study. All universities in the UK are capable of providing a timely response to most disruptions. The counselling team and student union will be there to support both local and international students. If you have the drive to join Chevening, you will certainly possess the resilience and tenacity to overcome this situation.