This Student Spotlight features Ngan Tran, a junior Politics major from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. In her time here at Ithaca College, Ngan has committed herself to serving her classmates both as a resident assistant and as a Diversity Peer Educator. As an advocate for social justice, she serves as the president of IC Books Through Bars, a student organization dedicated to providing books for incarcerated men and women across the northeastern region of the country. Ngan is also a member of the IC Ping Pong Club and dreams of one day visiting Man United’s home stadium, Old Trafford and taking a picture with Cristiano Ronaldo. Learn more about Ngan below!
Favorite part about IC:
My favorite part about IC is the people – my friends, professors, and co-workers. My friends give me shopping advices, are willing to listen to me, and are there when I need help. All of my professors are very approachable. I can visit them during their office hours and share with them what I have been thinking about. Most of the time those thoughts are academically related or thoughts that are central to who I am and my viewpoints about the world.
Favorite Honors seminar you’ve taken and why:
Definitely International Scholarly Conversation with Naeem Inayatullah and Jason Freitag. I discover a lot about myself through writing and different concepts that were presented in the readings. One idea that I remember clearly is the concept of sameness leads to differences and differences lead to sameness (Ghassan Hage’s “Comes a Time We Are All Enthusiasm”: Understanding Palestinian Suicide Bombers in Times of Exighophobia). For example, when thinking or talking about terrorism, the first thing that comes to one’s mind is immediate condemnation. One does so without thinking or hesitation. One must starts off by declaring that terrorism is wrong and it shouldn’t be allow in any shape or form. By doing this, one misses the opportunity to allow themselves to think about the circumstances that coerce terrorists to act the way they do. What caused the terrorists to act like that? Do they have any motives or are terrorists simply crazy people? All of those questions were forgotten because one only thinks about criticizing terrorism. Denouncing terrorism might means that there is something that deeply connected a “normal” person to a terrorist. The hidden secret, but not a secret at all, is that we (both terrorists and a “normal” individual) are human beings. If one accepts that terrorists are also people, one would be horrified because they could act violently against other people when pressured into a deadlock situation. One thinks that terrorists are actually different from them in many ways and finds it very uncomfortable to view terrorists as human beings. This is what I called differences leads to sameness. In other words, one believe terrorists are different than them but it might not be true. We can’t accept that terrorists are human beings because doing so means there is a possibility that can act like that some day and that is not acceptable. Therefore, we can’t think that they are the same as us which lead me to conclude that sameness is not okay so one must view terrorists as something different, at least not human beings. This is what I called sameness leads to differences.
*The above is my interpretation of the Hage’s reading and may or may not align with the professors’ viewpoint.
Coolest opportunity you’ve had through IC and/or the Honors program:
I got to spend an entire day in New York City with my friend Tian. We watched The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, had good food, walked a lot, and enjoyed each other company.
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