Bryan Tran ’21 believes teaching is much more than a profession. It is, in his words, “a craft and a form of art that requires the use of your whole heart.” Bryan first felt the tug to become an educator when he was only 11 years old. He began planning lessons in math, history, science and English for his sister, Aimee, who was then 5, in their family’s home in Endicott, N.Y. “I felt an obligation to share what I’d learned with her,” he recalled of those early years at the head of his improvised classroom. Those days have long since passed, but Bryan has never ceased being a teacher. As a student at Le Moyne, where he majored in French with a concentration in adolescent education, he taught at an after-school language program for local elementary school students. He also served as a student teacher in Chittenango, N.Y., and Manlius, N.Y. Now he is preparing for his greatest adventure yet: serving as an English teaching assistant in Vietnam through the Fulbright U.S. Student program.
In many ways Bryan’s story embodies the ways in which the world can come full circle. His parents, Dung Tran and Thanh Luong, immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in the early 1990s. Vietnamese is Bryan’s first language. English and French came later, when he was in elementary and middle school respectively, along with a smattering of Spanish at Le Moyne. Bryan’s first visit to his family’s homeland came in the summer of 2018, as he was preparing to begin his sophomore year at the College. The experience was transformative for him. He immersed himself in the Southeast Asian nation’s history and culture. One of his most vivid memories is of sitting outside, enjoying a bowl of Bun Bo Hue, a spicy beef and noodle dish he’d bought from a street vendor, and watching the world go by. Over the course of the trip, during which he relied on his Vietnamese, he gained a greater appreciation for how important it is to learn a second language.
Now Bryan is eager to share his passion for teaching and language with the students in his classroom in Vietnam.
“My goal is to encourage my students to develop intellectually and personally by creating a culturally diverse and supportive environment,” he says. “I also trust my experiences in Vietnam will help me grow into a more experienced teacher who will have a fuller range of strategies to help my future students learn.”
For Bryan, teaching is not just an opportunity to share knowledge with others. It is a chance to be creative. He is eager to use the teaching experience he’s already gained, along with his understanding of what it means to be part of a bilingual and bicultural family, to design curriculum that is student-centered and that recognizes the multitude of ways in which people learn. The Le Moyne alumnus will listen to his students’ stories and share his own. And in that respect, he will be more than a teacher. He will be an ambassador for his alma mater and his country as he helps to promote the Fulbright Program’s longstanding mission to promote understanding and, by extension, peace. As he looks toward the future, Bryan looks forward to pursuing a master’s degree in French at Middlebury College in Vermont and to embarking on a career as a French teacher.
Established in 1946 by the late Sen. J. William Fulbright, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study and teaching opportunities to recent college graduates, graduate students and professionals in more than 140 countries across the globe. It was created in the shadow of World War II to promote mutual understanding and peace. Since then, Fulbright’s impact in shaping world leaders has been nothing short of phenomenal. A total of 57 Fulbright recipients have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 29 have gone on to become MacArthur Foundation Fellows, and 37 have served as heads of state or government.
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