An Introduction to Allwein Scholar and International Student Mai Phan

Global Studies major and International student, Mai Phan headshot

Annville is home to dear old Lebanon Valley College, and LVC is home to so many students during their time at The Valley. One student in particular traveled this summer to the United States for the first time to join the LVC community. Mai Phan is a global studies major and international student from Vietnam. Though having traveled to Singapore and Japan, Phan had not had the chance to visit America, but now embarks on her four-year journey as a Lebanon Valley College student and Allwein Scholar recipient. 

Phan is originally from Hanoi, which is the capital of Vietnam. Much different than Annville, Hanoi is a city famous for noise, chaos, and traffic jams. Along with the big city comes large communities and universities, those of which Phan is used to being a part of. While attending a public event discussing the benefits of gaining an education from a liberal arts college, Phan was drawn in by the speaker. “Since then I realized that studying at a small college gives me more chances to collaborate with professors and get involved with a close-knit community, which is important, especially to an international student like me,” Phan explained.

When making the decision to come to LVC, Phan took into consideration many factors, including academics, location, weather, and the overall campus atmosphere. Because the College is central to many major cities, Phan is certain that her family will be able to visit her with ease. Not only does she find the location to be ideal but she is very eager for the changes in seasons during her stay. “The weather in Pennsylvania is amazing to me. I can not wait until winter because I have never touched snow before!” expressed Phan. 

Even then, her greatest appeal to LVC continues to be the campus community. “The most important thing that attracts me to LVC is the kind and friendly faculty, staff, and students. Every time I have questions, people are willing to help and answer instantly and enthusiastically. They make me feel special.”

As a global education major, Phan has a passion to learn about new cultures as well as share the traditions of her own. “The Vietnamese culture is very diverse and interesting to foreign people as well as myself. I hope to teach The Valley community how to cook simple traditional Vietnamese food such as ‘nem rán,’ ‘phở cuốn,’ and ‘bún chả,’” shared Phan. 

In addition to food, she is eager to introduce her friends at LVC about traditional Vietnamese games, festivals, old tales, and dress. 

Over the past few years as a high school student at Chu Van An High School, Phan has been a part of interesting and impressive accomplishments. In 2013 and 2014, she attended the VietAbroader study-abroad conference where she heard the stories of Vietnamese students. VietAbroader is an organization which encourages and supports academic and professional developments for Vietnamese youth. After the conference, Phan was inspired and wanted to join the movement. 

“I told myself that in the future I must be a part of the VietAbroader organization to help the next generation achieve his/her dream. This year I applied, and am very happy to have been accepted!” 

This opportunity will allow Phan to inspire and support students just like herself. 

In addition to her involvement with VietAbroader, Phan has completed research with microbial fertilization as well as making water filters for the impoverished. “We help clean dirty water for poor people and help farmers produce healthy vegetables. Most of all, when our projects are posted in the press, they raise people’s awareness of environment,” explained Phan. “In addition, working on REVEAL, the fertilization project and Water-Revol, the water filter project, I have gained precious experiences. In Water-Revol, I had a chance to work in the ‘slum’ of Hanoi. I learned that while I have clean water to use everyday many people are lacking water. Since then I have paid attention to save water sources and even told everyone I know to do so. Moreover, REVEAL is a chance for me to practice chemical knowledge. For both projects, I met many amazing, wonderful, unforgettable people and we are still good friends.” 

Although Phan has had incredible opportunities in Vietnam and enjoyed her time at Chu Van An High School, she is eager to live in America and gain new, exciting, and rewarding opportunities through LVC. “I’m very excited to learn a new language like Spanish, or study abroad,” shared Phan. 

“In the future, I want to work for an international organization. I hope to have a job that requires traveling across the world because I would love to learn more about different cultures and gain international friends.”

The Allwein Scholarship is the College’s most prestigious honor for incoming freshmen. The John Bowman Allwein Scholars Program is named in honor of Dr. John “Jack” Bowman Allwein, LVC Class of ’56. Dr. Bowman’s legacy includes the largest estate gift to the College in its history. Each fall, several outstanding students are awarded an Allwein Scholarship for all four years at LVC. In addition to the full-tuition scholarship, Allwein Scholars receive a $2,500 stipend for each of the four years for research, travel, or study expenses associated with study abroad, internships, and/or collaborative research.