Passionate about environmental issues across Vietnam, Huyen Thi Nguyen founded the Education for Vietnam Organic Lifestyle to advocate sustainable living in Viet Nam and promotes the lifestyle to her audiences.
After Huyen discovered the eMpowering Youth Across ASEAN (EYAA) opportunity, she learnt that EYAA is a programme that encourages youth between the ages of 19 to 35 years old from all 10 ASEAN Member States to leverage their experiences, knowledge and put their project ideas into action and create meaningful change for the local community in the Southeast Asian region. Furthermore, the programme aims to build the capacity of youth in ASEAN region to achieve the goals of ASEAN Community and contribute to the implementation of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2025 of becoming a more open and adaptive ASEAN.
Huyen felt that the EYAA programme is a platform where she can apply what she learned about project management to a real situation at the community level. Therefore, she decided to take on this unique opportunity and applied for the programme. As a result, she was chosen to be one of the ten Vietnamese youth to participate in the EYAA cohort 1 programme. She was then placed in a team with 9 other ASEAN youths and was assigned to tackle the thematic area of ‘Arts and Culture’ in Malaysia. The team was paired with an NGO called Kakiseni, an arts focused organisation in Malaysia. Together, they discussed the history of the traditional art and how important is it to the community. From that, they realised how interesting Malaysia's traditional art is and felt that as the young generation, they have to do something to preserve its tradition to ensure that it passes to the next generation. Convinced that they have good experience in working with children, they decided to create Project SeniKidz.
Project SeniKidz aims to enhance awareness and appreciation for the local art of Wayang Kulit among the students. With the project, the team hopes that it will build the love for the traditional art. The programme will firstly provide opportunities for the children to learn, understand and produce a Wayang-based performance. Concurrently, local artists will also receive more sustainable income and help them connect to schools to transfer their expertise to the students and teachers. Another aim of the programme is to challenge misconceptions of the traditional arts and to create awareness about Malaysia’s culture.
In February 2019, Huyen and her team travelled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to bring SenikidZ to life. During the two-week project implementation, the team managed to produce a solid module that will be implemented during the 4-month programme. To ensure that this module is adapted, the team partnered with two schools in Malaysia to run SenikidZ in June 2019. To prepare for it, the team are making the SenikidZ pack comprising activity book, tote bag and t-shirt to ensure the children are ready to begin the sessions after the school holidays.
Huyen felt excited to have the opportunity to work youth from different ASEAN countries because she was eager to learn more about their background, interests and strengths. When asked about her experience in the programme, Huyen dedicates her great experience to her mentor. Huyen emphasized how great here mentor was, saying “She was so amazing, she supported us a lot during the project implementation in Kuala Lumpur. She and her team’s knowledge and experience gave me a good picture of the traditional art in Malaysia and in KL.” Additionally, with a team of 10 youth of diverse backgrounds, Huyen said that they were all able to work together, support and learn from each other. Besides improving her skills in project management, the programme taught her how to manage an international team of diverse individuals with strong cultures.
Overall, Huyen feels that this programme has helped her a lot in her professional work back home in Vietnam, “I gained more skills in project management and how to work effectively with my projects and my team.” Being involved also gave her the opportunity to build connections. “I have met many amazing people during the project both in Thailand and in Malaysia. Some of them I still contact with and my network among ASEAN countries has expanded,” she said.
Huyen excitedly expressed her views on why she encourages youth to apply for the EYAA programme. “It is a platform here youth can realize their sustainable project ideas. You will learn a lot during the two-weeks implementation period and it is a good way to gain knowledge not only from your project but also from your teammates, who are all of different backgrounds, cultures and religions,” she concluded.