How to write a recommendation letter

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October 25, 2005

Dean of Admissions
6016 McNutt Hall
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

Dear Admissions Committee members,

It is with great pleasure that I write this letter of recommendation on behalf of Mr. Le Ba Nam Anh, in support of his application to the Dartmouth College class of 2010.

First, let me briefly explain how I came to know Anh. I am the country director of the Vietnam Program, at the Center for Business and Government, John F. Kennedy School of Government. The Kennedy School operates a school of public policy, the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Anh served as an intern at FETP this summer.

Anh is an exceptionally talented young man. At FETP we rarely accept high school interns; most of our interns are college or graduate students. I was struck by his eagerness and polite persistence in seeking an internship at FETP. When he first contacted me in the early spring of 2005, he told me that he had a keen interest in his country and its development. In response to my questions regarding his high school activities he described to me a community service program which he organized at his school to provide tutoring and “big sibling” companionship to children at a local orphanage. This impressed me a great deal, because Vietnamese high school students are generally under so much pressure to study (most students attend classes all day and take evening classes and private tutoring academies) that they cannot pursue extracurricular activities and they are not encouraged to do so. Anh’s sterling academic record, coupled with an impressive commitment to public service (he also serves as a youth counselor for a telephone hotline sponsored by an international NGO) convinced me to make an exception and offer him an internship at FETP.

When Anh began his FETP internship, I assigned him to work with one of our more senior research associates to prepare for a visit to Vietnam by a delegation US middle and high school teachers. The delegation was sponsored by the East-West Foundation, which requested our assistance in coordinating the group’s tour of southern Vietnam. I asked Anh to prepare a talk to the teachers on the religions of the Mekong Delta. I must confess that I gave Anh the assignment in part as a test. The Vietnamese high school curriculum is extremely rigid and remains highly ideological, despite the country’s sweeping economic reforms over the past two decades. Sensitive issues such as religion are downplayed. (Like China, Vietnam is criticized heavily by the international community for its at times oppressive treatment of religious groups.) I asked Anh to prepare an outline of what he intended to say within one week. When he did so, I was quite frankly, astonished. His outline was quite detailed and informative. What impressed me most was his resourcefulness. He had located online materials on Vietnamese religions published by US universities. Anh also contacted the Vietnamese government think-tank tasked with researching religious affairs. Not satisfied with the “party line” as it were, Anh also contacted monks at Buddhist temples in Ho Chi Minh City, and interviewed the priest at a local Catholic church. I think that Anh was struck by the disparity between the official state description of religion in Vietnam and what practitioners of the religions themselves told him. I gather that the American teachers were quite impressed.

In completing this project Anh demonstrated an intellectual maturity which would certainly be uncommon in any rising high school senior, in the US or anywhere else. Anh’s achievement is particularly remarkable in the context of the Vietnamese education system, which in addition to not covering the assigned topic in detail, does not generally seek to foster intellectual curiosity. Teaching is more often than not by rote. The Vietnamese curriculum, which emphasizes math and science, is not designed to teach critical or creative thinking. Writing is also not a major focus of the curriculum, even at leading high schools like the Amsterdam School. Anh distinguished himself in all of his work at FETP. In addition to his assistance with the delegation, Anh assisted the FETP registrar prepare student records for the new school year. Given the importance of ensuring student confidentiality this is not the type of task we would assign to an intern of any age, were it not for Anh’s maturity and discretion.

Anh is an immensely talented writer for someone of his age, as I’m sure his application essays will demonstrate. Indeed, reading his writing it is easy to forget that English is not his native language. (Anh was fortunate to have spent two years at a public middle school in New York City while his father, a diplomat, was stationed at the Vietnamese mission to the United Nations.) Anh is also very mature in his dealings with others. At FETP, he was by far the youngest member of the staff. Nonetheless, he interacted easily with his colleagues. Foreign professors who passed through FETP this past summer were always surprised to learn that he was in high school!

There is one other anecdote which I believe says a great deal about Anh. This spring he decided to take the SAT II examination in US history. US history, of course, receives cursory treatment in the Vietnamese high school curriculum; what is taught is of dubious accuracy, given the strident ideological tenor of the curriculum. Anh loves history and had learned some US history when he studied in the US in middle school. Whenever he had a spare moment, Anh would pull out the American high school history textbooks and primers he had ordered online. Anh told me subsequently that he received a score of 690. This is a truly remarkable achievement.

In closing, I am confident that Anh would make an outstanding contribution to Dartmouth College. His passion for learning, commitment to others, and unique life experiences would contribute to the dynamism and diversity of the Dartmouth community. As a student, I believe that Anh is well-suited to Dartmouth’s rigorous liberal arts education.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of any assistance.


Ben Wilkinson

Footnote:- Anh attends the Amsterdam High School in Hanoi, a public magnet school. The Amsterdam School is widely regarded as the top high school in Vietnam and admission is extremely competitive. (In the Vietnamese context it is the equivalent of Stuyvesant, Boston Latin, or Andover.)

-As an alumnus of an Ivy League school (Harvard College ’98-’99) and the sibling of a recent Dartmouth graduate, I have some familiarity with the demands of a Dartmouth education. I have no doubt that Anh would excel academically.


Hope this will help everyone.
activity của em đúng là thế :-s em c thêm thắt tí cho nó hoành tráng :"> chứ về căn bản là đúng mà :| chẳng nhẽ nó không evaluate một tí nào à???

cho hỏi lại, cái reclet trên kia của anh Bờm là anh Bờm viêt hay bác ý viết 8-|