Our editorial team has a chance to speak with Thao Nguyen, who just turned 19 when she joined APYE Vietnam 2019 as a delegate. A sophomore who is currently majoring in International Relations, worldly and curious, Nguyen has a penchant for exploring different cultures and ideas. Nguyen recalled three first-time experiences she had in APYE, and how they have shifted the way she viewed the world.
First time working in an international team
APYE is the first international program that Nguyen participated in. Being put in a five-people team, conversing from different parts of the world is a challenging, yet thrilling experience for her. And the language barrier is not the hardest part.
“What I have learnt has gone beyond casual, on-the-surface sharings about popular specialties and learning a country’s capital. During 14 days of the program, our team learnt and worked intensively to come up with a social project proposal. Being exposed to a diverse team has challenged my way of thinking, but at the same time taught me how to listen and respect the differences.” Nguyen recalled her first international team with an APYE editor.
First time designing a social project
Imagine you travelled from the bustling capital Hanoi to a rural area in the North of Vietnam, in a bus filled with 70 young people from 10 different nationalities? You sat together with your team to interview the locals, learn their difficulties, and in a week put together a project that helped improve the livelihood of the locals.
And that has been what Nguyen experienced when she embarked on the local immersion trip to Hoa Binh. Kelture Revolution, her first social project, aims to bring sustainable tourism to the people at Ke Village. Most of its households engage in agricultural activities as tourism and other service activities are unable to thrive. With aim to improve the household incomes, the team created Kelture Revolution to bring sustainable tourism practice for the village. The mission it was driving has meant a lot to her. In the nights and days that her team of five sat together, worked on ideas and prepared the proposal and presented, they argued, they fought, and the cultural differences and conflicts overwhelmingly dominated the conversation. But looking back at those moments, Nguyen realized how much her team had been bonded by the time they spent together and by the passion to do the right thing for the community. She said, verbatim, “There was no longer any border or gap between us as we joined to design this project, to do something that could mean so much more.”
First time embracing life and cultures
Post-APYE, Nguyen resumes her usual pace of life, going to school and participating in extra activities. And yet, beneath the seemingly ordinary life lays a fundamental shift in mentality. She becomes emboldened. More open-minded and tolerant. But above all, to Nguyen, is to see the challenges her homeland is facing and to learn that her role in empowering changes is, indeed, significant.
The application for APYE 2020 is now open until 11:59PM 22 December 2019. Check out here: https://www.apyevietnam.org/application