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An interview with Tran Xuan Tung - First Vietnamese Gold Medalist in International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics

Post by: trangtrang | 31/07/2019 | 137 reads

Last year, students of Hanoi-Amsterdam High School for the Gifted not only achieved outstanding results in regional or national competitions, but also in international contests. Today, AWW has the opportunity to interview Tran Xuan Tung, former student of 12 Physics 1 and also the first Vietnamese Gold Medalist in the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA).

Interviewer: Thank you for joining AWW interview today. I happened to know that at first, the IOAA Board did not accept your answer in the Theoretical Test. What was your feeling then? 

Xuan Tung (XT): When the Board did not accept my answer, I thought I might have made a calculation mistake, and felt normal about that. However, I was confident my answer’s direction was correct, and according to the Statutes I would receive a part of the point, but in reality I didn’t receive any point. As a result, I spent time reexamining and calculating in both ways to better understand the Board’s answer as well as to check whether I made any mistakes. In the end, I found a calculating error in the Board’s answer that made it inaccurate. Afterwards, I discussed with the Heads of Delegation - the teachers responsible for conversing with the Board - about the Board’s mistake, as well as the reason why my answer’s direction was correct.

Xuan Tung with friends

Interviewer: When informed that not only did the teachers successfully negotiate with the Board but you also win Gold Medal, how did you feel ? 

XT: When I knew that the negotiation succeeded and I won Gold Medal, I felt really happy, proud, and grateful for the Heads of Delegation, Hanoi Department of Education and Training, as well as my school, parents, friends, and above all the Delegation teachers for encouraging and teaching me. 

Interviewer: Astrophysics is a new concept to Vietnamese students and seems to be a difficult subject just from the name. Can you share the motivations behind the reason you choose to pursue this field from the beginning? 

XT: In my opinion, Astrophysics is largely based on Theoretical Physics, so if you have a strong foundation in Physics then understanding Astrophysics is totally possible. For me, I chose to pursue Astrophysics at first because it helped me to better understand natural phenomena, for I’m a curious person. 


Having graduated from high school, Xuan Tung is preparing his study abroad application

Interviewer: I know that achieving such a great prize requires significant efforts. How did you prepare for the competition and what was the greatest difficulty you encountered then? 

XT: I think during the preparation process, I always studied and listened to the teachers in classes in order to understand the knowledge and have more time to read additional reference materials. The greatest difficulty I confronted during this period is insufficient time for sleep and other activities, but because that only happened for a short time (several weeks before the competition), it was expendable. After the competition, I returned to my normal schedule and spent more time on myself and my extracurricular activities. 

Interviewer: From your personal experience, do you have any advice for the next generation of students who wish to pursue Astrophysics in general and IOAA in particular ? 

XT: My advice is: if you are interested in Astrophysics, you should search for additional reading materials because the volume of knowledge in this field is substantial. You can ask for the reference materials from the teachers or search online,...

It depends if you are chosen to participate in IOAA and want to balance between study and your personal life. To me, I could spend several weeks just concentrating on learning. After finishing your goals, you should relax and not regret because the competition’s result is unchangeable. 

Thank you Xuan Tung for your interview today. I wish you success with your studying abroad dream as well as your other future ambitions. 


Reporter: Doan Thi Thanh Ha - Chinese 1720

Translator: Bui Thi Hien Anh - English 1 1720