In love with Vietnam

Ambassador Gareth Ward: Enjoying Vietnamese experiences

Working in many areas to boost bilateral cooperation, including education, health and culture, British Ambassador Gareth Ward has felt a deep love for Vietnam. For the ambassador, his appointment in this country is not merely a duty. Much more than that, it is a meaningful experience.
Connecting Vietnam-UK education

Having worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for many years, Ambassador Gareth Ward is always willing to learn foreign languages. When he started his term of office in Hanoi, Gareth Ward spent a lot of time learning Vietnamese, considering it a way to experience Vietnam’s education. The ambassador spent three hours a day learning Vietnamese from his “tutor”, a student at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Gareth Ward’s proficiency in Vietnamese has largely helped him explore Vietnam’s culture and education. At any education forums or seminars he attends, Gareth Ward always speaks Vietnamese.

Ambassador Ward has made great efforts to boost Vietnam-UK ties, especially in education. The ambassador has facilitated the grant of the UK government’s scholarships for Vietnamese students. At present, Vietnam is among ten countries which have the highest number of students to receive the Chevening scholarship with around 300 alumni. Vietnam also ranks third in countries with the largest number of students studying in the UK, with 12,000 students.

British Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward. Photo: Thanh Giang  

The British ambassador talks with a Vietnamese education official about cooperation opportunities between the two countries. Photo: Files

Ambassador Ward addresses the UK -Vietnam Higher Education Partnership Networking Reception.
The event was held in Hanoi on March 12. Photo: Files

He speaks at an international conference themed “Vietnam: Towards a Low Carbon Energy Future”. Photo: Thanh Giang  
Gareth Ward has played a key role in establishing a network of 30 British universities to cooperate with Vietnamese schools in education and training programs.

The ambassador has 
also made many initiatives to promote education, especially for girls and women. On the occasion of this year’s International Women’s Day (March 8), the ambassador organized a competition, “British Ambassador for A Day”, for girls aged 13-22.

The competition attracted hundreds of university students who made videos, answering the question “If you were the British ambassador for a day, how would you use your power to promote education for girls and women in Vietnam?”

Do Thi Phuong Thao, a student from the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, who won the competition, has had opportunities to work with the British ambassador on many events. “Working with Ambassador Ward at international education and culture seminars and forums have been interesting experiences for me. The ambassador has given me chances to speak English in front of the public and play the role of an ambassador. He has wide knowledge and is conversant with Vietnamese culture,” Thao said. 

Boosting health training cooperation between Vietnam and the UK

Living in Hanoi like a Vietnamese citizen, Gareth Ward sees various problems facing Vietnam, including environmental pollution, population increases, epidemics and traffic accidents.

The ambassador wishes to bring to Vietnam success in health training in the UK, a country known for its high quality of health training with leading universities. Vietnam’s demand for healthcare services will increase with its economic growth and changing population structure. The country’s spending on healthcare is estimated to reach 22.7 million US dollars by 2021.

The ambassador has helped connect health training and education institutions in the UK with Vietnamese health establishments for training of health workers and medical doctors.

The ambassador grants certificates of merit to people with outstanding achievements
at the UK-Vietnam Higher Education Partnership Networking Reception. Photo: Files

At the workshop on UK-Vietnam Potential Collaboration on Healthcare Education and Training,
Ambassador Ward expresses his desire to have more opportunities to assist Vietnam in this field. Photo: Thanh Giang 

The ambassador is friendly to the press. Photo: Thanh Giang  

He addresses the “Vietnam: Towards a Low Carbon Energy Future” conference. Photo: Thanh Giang

In March, representatives from nine British health education and training institutions came to Vietnam to share their experience in health training, opening up new opportunities for cooperation with Vietnam. The ambassador joined UK health organizations in sharing new cancer treatment methods at the National Cancer Hospital K in Hanoi.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son spoke highly of Ambassador Ward’s efforts in boosting the health training cooperation between Vietnam and the UK. This helped develop human resources in the health sector and improve the quality of healthcare services in Vietnam. 

Ambassador Gareth Ward graduated from the University of Cambridge and London School of Economics. He has assumed important positions, including Consul General in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Head of the China Department at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
 Ambassador Gareth Ward enjoys exploring Vietnam by bike. He loves pho bo (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) and writes Facebook status updates in Vietnamese every day.
Story: Bich Van - Photos: Thanh Giang

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