Read the original article in The Oregonian here.
It's Trinh Thi Khanh Nguyen's sense of curiosity that betrays her foreignness. Whether she is studying diphthong vowels in her Culture and University Orientation course or standing in line at Portland State University's Neuberger Hall to get her ATM card, curiosity is darting from her eyes. After less than a week in Portland, Nguyen has much to be curious about.
The road to Portland wasn't easy. Nguyen competed with 300 other applicants to become one of 21 Intel Vietnam Scholars starting their 2012-13 school year at PSU -- the third and last group. Applicants had to have high academic performance, pass tests that Intel gave the applicants and undergo oral interviews.
Intel is paying more than $7 million to cover room, board, foreign student tuition, books and a small stipend for all three groups of the Vietnam Scholars while they finish their bachelor's degrees. In return, they have agreed to work for at least three years in Intel's assembly and test facility near Ho Chi Minh City. At 500,000 square feet, it is the largest Intel operates in the world. It has about 1,000 workers, including all of the past Intel Vietnam Scholars.
In many ways, this year's group of 21 doesn't stand out at Portland State University -- there are 1,800 foreign students among the 29,700 students at PSU. However, of the 54 previous Intel Vietnam Scholars to earn bachelor's degrees at PSU, seven were women. This time, 16 of the 21 are women. That's 76 percent -- nationally, women are 22 percent of U.S. hires.
Jill Eiland, Intel's regional corporate affairs manager, explains the number of women by saying, "Intel has made a commitment to the recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce around the world."
Nguyen and the other 20 scholars are now in a summer bridge program that is helping them get up to speed in their language skills and in the terminology they will need for their specific area of study.
After her first day on campus, Nguyen, 22, said she was homesick. It's the first time the Danang native has traveled outside Vietnam. She has a 16-year-old brother and a mom who is a teacher in a primary school; her dad died of a stroke when she was young.
She misses the crowded roads on the way to her university, Danang University of Technology, and some Vietnamese dishes.
But she loves Portland's "pure atmosphere" and long summer days. She is excited about having access to modern technology, improving skills like teamwork and living independently, and studying English.
Her major is electrical engineering. "Even though there are few women in Vietnam studying engineering," she said, "I think that in alliance with the development of technology, those who are good at engineering can easily get a good job and a high position in society."