THANH BINH TRINH

Everything, everywhere, all at once

This reference to a movie title may sound like an exaggeration, but it is precisely my take on how I have spent most of my life. I am Phuong Linh Nguyen, 17, here to guide you through an adventure. An adventure of a young Hanoian girl who is determined to become whoever she envisions.

But, who exactly?

The Orator

ROV Club

2019 - present

Little Linh loved books. She would read for hours on end, but sometimes she would have questions about the texts. She wanted to talk to people about it. 

Do people collectively agree that Professor Snape was a terrible person?

Is Holden Caulfield a justified character?

Luckily, she found her questions answered in debating.

I was invited by high school juniors to be one of the founding members of ROV at fifteen. Previously, debating at our institution was almost an underground “sport” – unrecognized and undeveloped. Needless to say, little Linh was over the moon. Since that moment, I have worked conscientiously to earn a name for my club and my school. I never knew I could end up on television, speak at national and international competitions, and meet the brightest human beings in the debate community. During the summer lockdown of 2021, through my little laptop monitor, I traveled to South Korea, Singapore, and Australia during online matches (I call it my vacation) and made the dearest friends. When I became the president of ROV, my passion for debate grew even stronger as I had a generation of successors to nurture. 

MUN, on the other hand, was not always my priority. The gavel bangs were almost deafening, as I was a scared eighth-graders who was too shy to speak up. But over time, as I researched for conferences, I realized that there was no right or wrong and that MUN events are a comfortable place to explore that grey area. 

I became more assertive in discussions and learned a great deal about international affairs. I was determined to bring this experience to students of my school, who were still unfamiliar with its concept. In an environment where political conversations were taboo, or seen as boring, I tried my best to change others’ views by organizing the first MUN conference. In my new role as Secretary-General, I felt the responsibility to be rather heavy, but all of it paid off as I saw new delegates coming out of their shells, being surprised by what they were capable of.

The Singer

M4U Club

2016 - present

I had always been a sing-songy kid, but never a performer. That all changed when eleven-year-old Linh stepped into Music For You, a club run by mostly high-schoolers passionate about all things musically related. M4U was my first club in school, and I was actually the youngest person to ever enter the club. As the “baby”, I was guided and loved by the older members, who treated me like their little sister. Through hundreds of rehearsals and performances over six years, I not only garnered valuable lessons on how to sing and make a mark on stage, but also on how to be a team player.

Glee Ams

2021 - present

With strengthened vocal agility and confidence, I decided to expand my horizons and try out for one of the most famous music clubs in Hanoi. Here, I got to meet brilliant people I never thought I would cross roads with, learned actual music theory, and further explored my dream of singing my heart out.

G’LAMS

2021 - 2022
My voice’s most recent journey, and my first clash with musical theater. In the original musical “The Hollow Lantern”, I was cast as the singing voice of the main character Camilla – a feisty female cop who wanted nothing but justice but was torn when her best friend got into trouble. This was one of the toughest jobs I had taken up, not because of the vocal technicalities, but because I had to portray the nuances of the character through song lyrics. Each breath I took counted, and each creative decision to emphasize one word or another was carefully calibrated. A minor change could make a big difference. After months of preparation, the production’s premiere went beyond our expectations, and it was truly magical to see the words I had sung come to life.

The Musician

TMIC

2016 - present

In grade six, when students had to choose an art club to join, I picked the traditional music club purely out of curiosity. With each instrument I laid my hands on, I was exposed to a piece of cultural identity. I could imagine how my father used to spend his afternoon herding buffaloes and playing sáo trúc ( Vietnamese bamboo flute) when he was a teenager living in rural Vietnam. I found out how blind musicians used to play the đàn bầu (one-string zither) at open markets at the end of the 19th century. 

The Vietnamese drumset was my main instrument of choice, and it has brought me numerous invaluable experiences. The duty of keeping time for an entire orchestra was stressful, but as I heard all of the parts come together, it was incredibly fulfilling. I also had the opportunity to showcase Vietnamese musical legacy to foreign exchange students and even taught them how to play the instruments. I expect to continue spreading the beauty of Vietnamese traditional music on my journey around the world.

Piano

2016 - present

I used to think classical piano felt forced, like something all other Asian kids were supposed to do. My mom dragged me to lessons every week for years, only for me to quit at the start of middle school. But when the coronavirus hit, I was on my own and had the time to reflect on past experiences. I wondered if I had not quit hitting those 88 keys, who would I be today? Coincidentally, a close friend who I had reconnected with during lockdown bore the same question, and we started to practice and motivate each other.

 

Although I was nowhere near virtuosic, it felt exhilarating to be able to perform pieces I loved, as I developed a deep connection with classical music. Rachmaninoff, Chopin, and Paganini were incredible at balancing technicality and artistry, while Tchaikovsky’s orchestration was vividly picturesque.

The GIVER

Parad1us

2020 - present

Every day, I come across articles about underprivileged people who have not received the help they needed, or the aftermath of natural disasters. This had a major effect on me as I became aware of my privilege, and I wanted to make a change. At Parad1us, I was grateful to be able to do what I love – baking – and combine it with charitable initiatives. Each year, our project raised funds by selling home-baked goods with creative packaging that suits special occasions. In 2021, with the funding acquired, we bought school supplies and helped renovate a school for students of Ha Giang province. This year, our goal is to provide assistance to the people of Dak Lak. We hope to bring as much joy and relief as possible since no one deserves to be left behind.

The Oversharer

You may know my GPA, my extracurriculars, or my lack of APs. But do you really know me?