Class 17 (2018-2020)
Linh Vo Thi My, Vietnam
Duke University – Master in International Development Policy
Linh Vo is an author and journalist as well as the founder of Volunteer House Vietnam. She was born and raised in a rural village in Hue where her father was a bomb sawyer and her mother was a housewife. She has published a novel titled “Over the Hill” and co-authored 10 books for teenagers.
Linh started writing as a child when she drafted her parents’ divorce agreement to encourage her mother to leave her abusive situation, but to no avail. Because children of divorce usually live in poverty and the former wives are harshly judged by society, most victims of domestic violence continue to stay in abusive marriages.
Linh worked as a public relations executive for Orient Commercial Bank before leaving her job to travel and learn English in 2014. Her life changed after she survived and write about a Nepalese avalanche in 2014, which killed at least 45 people on Annapurna Mountain. Since then she has seen firsthand how English communication skills open the information highway and enable Vietnamese to make greater contributions to the world. Rather than aspiring to leave their country, Linh believes better education at home can help Vietnamese to overcome the sometimes abusive and impoverished conditions they long to escape. Her published letter to the Minister of Education highlighted the current lack of opportunity to learn English. Linh created Volunteer House Vietnam, which provides free accommodation for travellers in exchange for free English lessons for disadvantaged children. Her influence helped raise $35,000 for disaster relief and $45,000 for educational facilities. When Linh receives praise and respect, she turns the focus to the strong mothers and wives who sacrifice to raise their children in hopes of a better life for them.
Linh plans to dedicate her career to policy-making and public service. She hopes to bring more equity for future generations through education and motivation.