In 2020, Sunwah GYLN PLLC Chapter has launched the “Turning the Spotlight to Local Businesses and Non-Profits” Project in Edmonton to promote local businesses and feature non-profits who are struggling during these unprecedented times, in accordance with the City of Edmonton’s recommendations on supporting the community during COVID-19. Their goal is to raise awareness on the importance of shopping local at this time to help small businesses cope through this hardship and to recognize the tireless efforts of unsung heroes in non-profits who are working especially hard to support vulnerable populations.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has changed the way we lead our day-to-day lives. Even more so for everyday people running local businesses in Edmonton who had to quickly creatively adapt to changes and make tough decisions for their businesses to survive amidst a pandemic.
According to Statistics Canada, small business makes up 98% of all employer business in Canada and has a major impact on our economy. Unlike large corporate businesses, local businesses are run by people, not stockholders or algorithms that drive supply and demand chain. Local businesses share the fruits of their passion and are owned by individuals who are invested in the growth and wellbeing of our community.
For the Jo Family, this is the first time in 18 years that they opted to work with delivery services since opening Gaya Korean Restaurant in 2003.
The Jo Family has put so much time and work into welcoming many in the University of Alberta campus community to their warm and loved restaurant home. But with university closing and students going online, they’ve taken a huge hit. By stepping out of their comfort zone, they hope they can reach out beyond their normal customer base.
Meanwhile, for Meghann and Karine, who started Re:Plenish in January 2020 as a pop-up refillery and zero waste store in the back of a manufacturing warehouse, COVID-19 forced them to close their weekend shop just a couple months later in March. Their solution: they created an online store and pivoted to local deliveries.
Meghann and Karine’s dedication to serving their customers’ needs allowed them to see past closed doors and reframe them into an opportunity to grow their business. Now, they are looking around for a brick and mortar store that they can move into to commit to Re:Plenish full-time.
It’s a similar story for Alyssia and Megan who founded their candle company Alpine Ember Co. in 2019. Their markets were cancelled leaving them with no outlets to sell directly to customers. And as a two person team separated by restrictions, they had to navigate how to work together from separate homes.
Which they did. They launched their website and made a concentrated effort to reach out to local retailers, expanding both their wholesale and consignment locations.
Going through a pandemic is hard enough but launching a business amidst one is an even more remarkable feat, made possible by leaders with a strong vision and immense community support.
Just ask Reika and Mavi, who set out with the intent to create safe spaces within the local queer community and to build a better future for people in coffee. They opened Intent Coffee in September 2020.
Still, that doesn’t stop Reika and Mavi. They adapted quickly to built a website, set up curbside pick-up, and are working on delivery and shipping. They’re looking forward to Intent Coffee’s next steps: build a coffee training academy for youth in marginalized communities.
More Than A Fad, a charitable thrift store launched in July 2020, also has not known anything other than the new realities presented by the pandemic. All of their proceeds go to women in addiction recovery at Adeara Recovery Centre, creating some awareness and consistent revenue at a time of need for the non-profit. Operated by a team of 70+ volunteers from all walks of life.
The pandemic may have heightened many uncertainties, but it has not quivered the bright spirit of our local businesses. Especially not the unsung heroes behind these local businesses– the families, friends, teammates, staff and volunteers working together.
Whether sharing their gratitude for community support or stretching themselves to continue serving our communities, they have shown adaptive leadership in practice. As Edmontonians, we appreciate the astounding resiliency with which our local businesses are adapting, overcoming challenges to continue giving back to our community.
In 2020, Sunwah GYLN PLLC Chapter has launched the “Turning the Spotlight to Local Businesses and Non-Profits” Project in Edmonton to promote local businesses and feature non-profits who are struggling during these unprecedented times, in accordance with the City of Edmonton’s recommendations on supporting the community during COVID-19. Their goal is to raise awareness on the importance of shopping local at this time to help small businesses cope through this hardship and to recognize the tireless efforts of unsung heroes in non-profits who are working especially hard to support vulnerable populations.
At a time of great crisis in the community, non-profit organizations stepped up to fill the cracks left by the wake of the pandemic. They rapidly adapted and incorporated the impact of COVID-19 to their communities, acting swiftly to meet their shifted needs–from social isolation, food insecurity, to lack of access to technology and information.
“With a lot of services going online, including educational institutions, employment programs and counselling services switching to virtual access, we saw a huge gap with our clients not having the technology to access resources online,” according to Sydney Shewchuk from Elizabeth Fry Society (EFRY) Northern Alberta. EFRY is committed to supporting and advocating for girls, women and non-binary folks who are or may be at risk of becoming criminalized.
Lack of access to technology is a common concern to non-profit organizations and the vulnerable communities they serve. Ubuntu Children and Families also equipped many families with technology, so they could virtually connect with their loved ones and service team. Usually operating out of the C5 North East Hub, the Ubuntu team had to be creative and steadfast in their commitment to support and create lasting safety for families that have Children’s Services involvement.
Morgan Northey, the Director of Ubuntu, explains: “We converted board rooms and office spaces to play areas for families to spend time together. We never stopped going out to see our families, rather we started wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). We had meetings on front lawns, during bike rides and in garages.”
During the summer, they also spent hours on the land with their Elder, in Ceremony, collecting sage and sweet grass–knowing these traditional medicines were going to be so important to many of their families in the winter.
Though following public health recommendations while keeping programs running is not an easy feat, nonprofits continue to meet their communities’ needs since their services are still in demand, if not more than ever. This is true especially for CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health who work collectively to advance the mental health of infants, children and adolescents through family-centred clinical services, education, research and advocacy.
Meanwhile, John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights (JHC) also saw a surge in community members reaching out for their help. Most of the requests revolved around food insecurity and the need for dissemination of accurate information regarding COVID-19 updates and protocols. As a response, in March 2020, they started the ‘YEG Community Response to COVID-19’ Facebook group, bringing community members together to assist each other in a crisis. This group now has over 20 thousand members and is moderated by a team of committed JHC volunteers.
Then in October 2020, JHC launched the Bethel Pantry which has since then provided essential food items to over 1100 families in the Norwood area. For Idara Effiom, Volunteer Coordinator at JHC, volunteers are key to how the centre has adapted to the demand in services.
“Prior to the pandemic, JHC had only a handful of volunteers. Now we have a team of over 300 volunteers within Edmonton and Alberta responding to food insecurity through various programs across the province.”
The Edmonton Food Bank (EFB) also credits their volunteers to be fundamental to supplying food to Edmontonians in need. Cory Sellar, a resource developer at EFB mentioned that: “Volunteers help organize hamper boxes, greet clients, carry heavy items out to their vehicle, and provide information as needed. In this hands-on and physically demanding position, the volunteers have treated everyone with respect, dignity, and adhered to safety protocols.”
As Edmontonians, we should aspire to the tenacity of these unsung heroes working hard with and within our local nonprofits. Flexibility, steadfastness, resilience, creativity and compassion–a common thread of leadership values woven by the people behind these local non-profit organizations. They are community role models showing us adaptive leadership in practice amidst changing situations while still staying safe and collaboratively holding programs.
Like them, we must continue to meaningfully connect with and support our most vulnerable communities. By volunteering our time, expertise, money or resources, we can follow in their footsteps, help ease the effects of the pandemic on everyone, and uplift our whole community.
1. 2020 New batch recruitment (Ho Chi Minh City, 05 Sep – 13 Oct 2020)
In early September 2020, in order to celebrate Sunwah Group’s 50th Anniversary in Vietnam and to recruit a
new generation of the network, Sunwah Global Young Leaders Network Ho Chi Minh City (GYLN HCMC) Chapter has started the recruitment campaign which eventually attracted 85 applications of students from various universities in Ho Chi Minh City. After two rounds of selection including Online Application, Interview, and Teamwork, 23 active and enthusiastic members were selected to join the network.
2. The first briefing meeting for new members (Ho Chi Minh City, 02 Nov 2020)
In early November, GYLN HCMC Chapter organized the first briefing meeting at Sun Wah Tower for the new
batch to introduce GYLN’s structure and activities, Sunwah Foundation as well as Sunwah Group.
Also in the meeting, GYLN Committee shared information about a series of meaningful projects to celebrate Sunwah Group’s 50th Anniversary in Vietnam including:
The “50 Student Environmental Ambassadors in Vietnam” project in Hanoi from 6-10 November
The Opening of Sunwah Innovation Center in Ho Chi Minh City & Sunwah Group’s 50th Anniversary Event on 7-8 December
The Opening of USSH-Jonathan KS Choi Cultural Centre in the campus of University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City in 2021
The International Film Forum Hanoi in 2021
3. Participation of GYLN HCMC Chapter members in the “50 Student Environmental Ambassador in Vietnam 2020” Project (Hanoi, 06 – 10 Nov 2020)
GYLN HCMC Chapter selected 5 representatives to join the “50 Student Environment Ambassadors in Vietnam 2020” project in Hanoi from 06-10 Nov. The team has been trained for 4 days with many environmental experts from Vietnam and overseas on various topics, including:
International Conference on “Green Growth and Sustainable Development” with keynote speakers from Canada, USA, Japan, Hong Kong, and Vietnam
“Natural attenuation strategy of groundwater and subsurface water impacted by acid mine drainage” by Prof Keiko Sasaki, Kyushu University, Japan
“Knowing and Acting in Response to Environmental Risks: Science, Publics and the Policy Process” by Prof Kevin Jones, University of Alberta, Canada
“Biodiversity in Vietnam: status, causes of degradation and main solutions for sustainable development” by Dr Truong Ngoc Kiem, VNUHN, Vietnam
“Climate change affecting the Arctic, Antarctica and the World” & “The role of young people in environmental protection” by Dr Rebecca Lee, Founder of Polar Museum, Hong Kong
“Bio-based Economy and the difference from the term of Biotechnology” by Prof Dang Thi Cam Ha, former Head of Environment Biotechnology Division, Institute of Biotechnology of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, Vietnam
“Domicology and Closing Loops as a Part of Sustainable Development Efforts” by Dr George Berghorn, Michigan State University, USA
“Building and Executing community projects” by Dr Truong Ngoc Kiem, VNU-HN, Vietnam
“What can the young generation do to protect the environment?” by Ms Do Van Nguyen, Live and Learn Vietnam
All Environmental Ambassadors joining the projects had a great opportunity to learn, to enhance their knowledge about the environmental issues as well as to connect and expand their network. The GYLN HCMC team is now actively implementing their own initiated project named “I CAN (INH HOMO)” which will teach and inspire students about the biodiversity in Kon Plong (a mountainous district of Kontum Province, Vietnam) in order to raise awareness and willingness to take action toward biodiversity conservation.
4. Sharing session of the Environmental Ambassadors’ experiences (Ho Chi Minh City, 16 Nov 2020)
After one week in Hanoi, joining the “50 Student Environmental Ambassadors in Vietnam 2020” project, GYLN HCMC Chapter organized a post-program meeting for the Ambassadors to share about their trip and the training experiences gained. All of the GYLN HCMC Chapter members who joined the session were very excited.
5. Joining Sunwah Innovation workshops: Opening Innovation Workshop & Edutech Workshop (Ho Chi Minh City, 07 – 08 Dec 2020)
In the afternoon of December 7th, GYLN HCMC Chapter participated in the international innovation workshop
entitled “Open Innovation Mechanisms for Successful Startup-Corporate Collaborations”, organized by
Sunwah Innovations. The workshop witnessed the participation of notable speakers in the startup ecosystem,
including Mr Louis Nguyen, CEO of Sunwah Kingsway Vietnam and Saigon Asset Management; Mr Trung
Anh Nguyen, CEO of Phoenix Holdings; Mr Vu Le, Head, Strategic Partnership and Business Development,
Grab Vietnam; Mr Phong Pham, Founder and CEO of Cyfeer, and Mr Peter Mok, The Head of Strategic
Partnership, Hong Kong Science and Technology Park.
On this occasion, GYLN HCMC Chapter members had a chance to get more knowledge on the innovation trend, gained different perspectives from corporates and startups. It was also a great opportunity for networking with young people who are passionate about entrepreneurship, as well as experienced and successful speakers.
In the morning of December 8th, GYLN HCMC Chapter participated in the Edutech Workshop with the theme
of “The Future of Endless Possibilities”, co-organized by Sunwah Innovations and the Information Technology
Park – Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City. The workshop shared significant trends in the Education
Technology industries in recent years.
The workshop was held at Sunwah Innovation Center, which is the latest project of Sunwah Group in Vietnam.
By participating in the workshop, GYLN HCMC members not only had a chance to visit the functional areas
of Sunwah Innovation Center but also visited the Mini showcase with various innovative products from
Edutech start-ups at the event hall.
Two members of GYLN HCMC Chapter supported organizing the 2-day event as the Logistic Helpers. This was a great occasion for them to accumulate experience in organizing an event.
6. Training session for new members (18 Dec 2020)
On 18 Dec 2020, GYLN HCMC Chapter organized a training session to develop networking skills at public events for new members, including communication skills, social skills, empathy, positivity, and humor, etc. All members participating in this session have become more confident to practice public speaking and got a chance to know each other better.
7. Networking Dinner of Sunwah GYLN Ho Chi Minh City Chapter
In the evening of 28 Dec 2020 at Sunwah Innovation Center, Sunwah GYLN Ho Chi Minh City Chapter hosted a Networking Dinner to welcome all new members and plan activities for 2021.
The Networking event had the participation of 30 Sunwah GYLN HCMC members, representatives of Sunwah Vietnam, Sunwah Foundation and special guests.
At the event, Sunwah GYLN HCMC members had the opportunity to receive practical advice on leadership development, education and career path, mental and emotional support from three special guests, including Mr Anh Vu Vincent Nguyen, Vietnamese Schwarzman Scholar; Ms Nguyen Duc Nhu Thuy, the only Vietnamese licensed Art Therapist in HCMC; and Dr Nguyen Tran Phi Yen, CEO, and Founder of Zigzag Career.
November 6th-10th 2020 were memorable days for Sunwah GYLN members in Vietnam as we were selected to join the “50 Student Environmental Ambassadors in Vietnam 2020” program – organized by Sunwah Foundation and co-organized by Vietnam National University, Hanoi. The program broadened our worldview about environmental issues, supported us in building meaningful projects, and last but not least gave us a chance to befriend talented young students across Vietnam.
The opening ceremony was held on November 6th with the attendance of Mr. Jesse Choi, Director of Sunwah Vietnam, Mr Dang Minh Khoi, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and representatives from the Chinese Embassy in Vietnam, Vietnam Environment Administration Office – Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Higher Education Department – Ministry of Education and Training along with teachers and students from different universities in Vietnam. Dr Jonathan Choi, Chairman of Sunwah Group, Sunwah Foundation, and Jonathan KS Choi Foundation also joined virtually to deliver his welcome remarks. Attending the ceremony, we were impressed with the professional and dedicated organization. We believed that we would learn a lot during the time of joining the program.
Afterward, we were introduced to five different approaches towards “Green Growth and Sustainable Development” of the environment which gave us a comprehensive understanding of environmental issues: (1) “Sustainable Built Environment”, by Prof Matt Syal, Construction Management Department, School of Planning, Design, and Construction, Michigan State University, USA. (2) “The important role of national parks in Green Growth and Sustainable Development: Lessons from Canada” by Dr Harvey Locke, University of Alberta, Canada. (3) “Natural attenuation strategy of groundwater and subsurface water impacted by acid mine drainage” by Prof Keiko Sasaki, Department of Earth Resources Engineering, Kyushu University, Japan. (4) “Climate change affecting the Arctic, Antarctica and the World” by Dr Rebecca Lee, Founder of Polar Museum, Hong Kong. (5) “CCS Technologies for mitigating CO2 emissions” by Assoc Prof Dao Sy Duc, Department of Chemical Technology, VNU University of Science. Due to the Covid-19th, the first four speeches were delivered via an online platform. It did not bring any negative effect on the quality of their contents but drew much interest from participants.
In the afternoon, Prof Keiko Sasaki continued her topic about “Natural attenuation strategy of groundwater and subsurface water impacted by acid mine drainage”. She described two scientific approaches to treat heavy metals in wastewater from the exploitation of minerals in Japan: (1) Active Path by using chemicals that can precipitate with metallic ions or toxic substances in wastewater such as Cr (IV) and FeS2 (2) Passive Path by handling in situ microorganisms through Permeable Reactive Barriers (PRBs). On the passive path, the heavy metals would be gone through a wall that includes 3 steps: Sorption -> Precipitation -> Degradation. As a result, we have clean water. An interesting and impressive thing in her sharing is that even though the control test does not undergo any kind of methods, the downstream water source will also return to its original state (heavy ion content at a safe level) after 15 years. That means nature has a self-healing capacity! However, can self-healing nature’s speed keep pace with human destruction speed? Scientific articles are always reliable evidence for environmentalists to appeal to people to be aware of keeping nature. Thank you very much for Prof Keiko Sasaki for minimizing the gap between scientific research and practical applications.
On November 7th, we attended 4
The first one was “Knowing and Acting in Response to Environmental Risks: Science, Publics and the Policy Process” by Prof Kevin Jones, University of Alberta, Canada. In his lecture, Prof Jones introduced the participants to the fundamental principles of political science and how to engage the public in decision-making. Starting with identifying the wicked problem, we realized the environment is not only an international issue but also a paradoxical issue because there is no final solution we can make to resist the risks we will face. It looks like an elephant in a room, we know its existence, but we try to ignore the dark side of this progress. When hearing his speech, we believed that we are underdetermining the consequence of environmental pollution and putting it as the last priority, while its change directly affects human daily life. The environment should not be isolated from other social problems, instead, it should be considered when operating the initiative for enhancing human living standards. The impacts of climate change are increasingly evident, and policy institutions are facing challenges to ensure its prosperity. From our perspective, the adaptation to routine uncertainty is essential to control the risk in our capacity to solve, as well as open up the option when the risk scenarios come. To accomplish this idea, the policy institution is required to consider environmental factors at the same level as socio-economic factors when making a policy. Moreover, we need an evidence-based policy and public engagement in this process, which means the requirement for transparency and legitimacy for people to be involved in policymaking. From his lecture, we acknowledge the necessity of bridging the gap between common knowledge with expert knowledge, as well as increasing the active engagement of citizens into policy. This idea is new for us, and many of Vietnam’s young people because we hardly engage in policymaking. Therefore, we enjoyed the lecture of Prof Jones and considered the initiative to bring public interest to the community.
The second lesson was about “Biodiversity in Vietnam: status, causes of degradation and main solutions for sustainable development” lectured by Dr Truong Ngoc Kiem, Lecturer, Faculty of Biology, University of Science, VNUHN. Dr Kiem introduced the diverse resources of Vietnam and how to utilize them properly. Besides, Dr Kiem emphasized that in order to conserve biodiversity, we have not just preserved an individual, but a population, or even a biome. It’s an unfortunate but inspirational story that we need to act on immediately. In addition, we always told each other that barren hills should be covered to limit landslides but have not understood the mechanism yet. The location above the quarried ground is where water accumulates during rain. That makes the soil more porous and then landslides. Therefore, when planting trees, especially trees with long roots deeply embedded in the ground and cluster roots clinging to the soil on both sides will keep the soil stable.
In the afternoon, Dr Rebecca Lee, Founder of Polar Museum, Hongkong continued with her topic “Climate change affecting the Arctic, Antarctica and the World” from the Opening Conference and “The role of young people in environmental protection”. DrRebecca Lee had transformed herself from a professional graphic designer, painter, photographer, and writer to a polar researcher in the last 30 years. The pursuit of innovation resulted in her being recognized as the first Hong Kong woman explorer to reach the Arctic, Antarctic and Mount Everest Region. She was the author of more than fourteen books, organized numerous educational exhibitions and produced TV documentaries about the world we live in. She is the founder of the Polar Museum Foundation in Hong Kong and does “exhibition” of her work on many scales. Her integrity is seen in her courage, resilience, and survival in extreme conditions and adversity. She has been to the Arctic ten times, Antarctica eight times and to Mount Everest region four times. Her work shows a true love for our planet and mankind. Rebecca has delivered hundreds of lectures to primary and secondary school students, university undergraduates in Hong Kong, Macau, and China about her work, adventure, and latest scientific findings on the environment. They are inspired to take a more serious attitude towards life and to conserve and protect the environment. The community benefited tremendously from her public education efforts. She is the symbol of making an impact from individual change and opening a new diagram for us to tackle the problem. Sometimes, the normal thought is that we need many resources and group gatherings to make an impact, but everything starts from just a person’s interest. The key is believing and being interested in ourselves in order to deliver strong engagement content to others. It applies the same thing with doing social work. If we don’t trust and have any connection to the topic then we might drop it easily and consider it as one of the duties. She speaks on behalf of nature and creates a new combination of Art and Science. The huge support from the community is one of the wish lists for any project runner as proving the result of raising awareness. The same method has been applied to many organizations but not many people can become an influencer like Dr Lee. She bridges the gap of innocent thought of people to the natural reality in the Arctic, the World. We all acknowledge the increase of global warming but none of us see the reality to touch the human’s soul and take action. That is also a good start for young people to raise awareness by touching human beings’ core values and do not blame them but stand aside with them to see the problem.
The last lecture of November 7th was
“Bio-based Economy (Bioeconomy) and the
difference from the term of Biotechnology” given by Prof Dang Thi Cam Ha,
former Head of Environment Biotechnology Division, Institute of Biotechnology of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology. Prof Ha introduced three leading economies: green economy, circular economy, bio-based economy and how science can contribute to protecting the environment. Three critical areas of the circular economy were emphasized to optimize durability and extend the product’s shelf-life. It also includes the need for strengthening the rotation and reuse of waste or scrap as a new resource. It requires the importance of recirculating design, reducing raw material consumption, energy, and reusing low carbon alternative materials. It is a sustainable development that benefits not only the environment but also the economy and society. The key to the process is taking advantage of local material, resources, and lay on the natural characteristics and development. A bio-based economy is also a future economy and focuses on a recycling community, conservation of ecosystems, and equitable sharing. The production paradigms that rely on biological processes and, as with natural ecosystems, use natural inputs, expend minimum amounts of energy, and do not produce waste as all materials discarded by one process are inputs for another process and are reused in the ecosystem. Fostering a bio-based economy can contribute to achieving the following results: a lower carbon economy and sustainable primary production, building competitive bio-industries, a resilient and sustainable food chain. It reminds young people to take care of their community first and use this concept to find out suitable solutions. The old concept of “selling planet to trade material” is replaced by the circular concept where we can have a vent diagram between 3 main stakeholders. This process can get help, mainly from scientist’s work to tackle global issues and build a sustainable approach.
November 8th was also a great day as
we learned both theories as well as practicing.
It started with the lecture “Domicology and Closing Loops as a Part of Sustainable Development Efforts” by Dr George Berghorn, Construction Management Department, School of Planning, Design and Construction, Michigan State University, USA. As a Michigan citizen, seeing a lot of abandoned buildings through the growth, Dr Berghorn was the pioneer in studying the economic, social, and environmental factors affecting the life cycle of the built environment. He experienced the effect of the financial crisis on housing abandonment, as well as the digitalization of changing consumer behavior. Currently, Amazon is the largest e-commerce platform in the US, and it replaces the function of a lot of malls and plazas, putting them closed and abandoned. Digitizing activities increase convenience, but it also increases higher insurance costs, poorer quality of life, and environmental concerns. 70,67 billion USD is stuck in my head because this budget is a requirement for removing all abandoned buildings. Lack of consideration in consumption and enjoyment has serious consequences for the environment and the economy. Dr Berghorn and his allies are involved in finding the solution. His domicology theory is a new approach method to build a structural paradigm that is more sustainable for the building. By deconstructing and circulating the building, we can maximize the resources, identify the tool of sustainable development impact, support, and create jobs for vulnerable people. In his speech, the professor showed the applicable model for Vietnam, firstly focusing on public awareness and increasing industrial practice. By setting a quality standard for construction and demolition waste, Vietnam could prevent the construction pollution and waste of resources that many developed countries are facing. Therefore, the development of public and corporate policies should be Vietnam’s priority in the next period.
The lecture then was followed by the
project development talks from Dr Truong Ngoc Kiem, Lecturer, Faculty of
Biology, University of Science, VNU-HN and Ms. Do Van Nguyen, Director of Live
and Learn, Vietnam about “Building and
Executing community projects” and “What
can the young generation do to protect the environment?” respectively.
Dr Kiem came from the University of Science, VNUHN so he delivered to us the knowledge that applied well to Vietnam. He opened the lecture with a tagline: “You need to be naive enough to do things differently”. It attracted all of our attention to question ourselves, whether we are inexperienced, what is different. The lecture was like a roller-coaster for us to travel from each other’s Pandora box to explore ourselves. The definition of entrepreneurship was so familiar to us nowadays, but we found it hard to reach it somehow, and Dr Kiem guided us to take it baby-steps. That was overcoming our comfort zone to seek discomfort as we always ask for innovation, but we hardly dare to take one step out of the safe area. Dr Kiem moved on to the vent diagram between three key elements: passion, talent, market demand to meet as a successful spot. Ikigai or mass media content also mentioned it lately, but it seems good only on paper. Thanks to Dr Kiem for the rest of the lecture, giving us a step-by-step direction to draw our own diagram. He understood the problem in youth and the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, so his presentation was answering almost our wonders. Besides that, he also delivered the tool to evaluate social projects and instruction to make a standard plan. This was one of the last lectures in 3 days, and it existed perfectly to apply what we have learned in previous sections to make our plan, also preparing for the presentation the day after.
As an environmental activist, Ms Do Van Nguyet, Director of Live and Learn Vietnam inspires the participants with her interactive workshop “What can the young generation do to protect the environment?” Instead of providing us information about pollution and climate change in a traditional way, Ms Nguyet created a space for us to self-experience it. She understands how to motivate the youth by encouraging their engagement and reflection. Organizing the workshop as a game show and a mini sharing, Ms Nguyet narrowed the gap between participants and the speakers. We enjoyed her Kahoot introductory game and her graceful sharing about the air, the water, and the soil pollution. She empowers youth to take action in their daily life. By finding the 10 players, who are changing their daily routine with green consumption and eco-friendly behavior, one of the GYLN HCMC has been the first winner of her challenge. Ms Nguyet let us co-design the section, by sharing our experience and initiative to approach the environmental crisis. For us, she was successfully enhancing the motive in my heart to change my daily habit, from the smallest thing like saying “no” for single-use plastic.
We applied what we learned in building the environmental project which was presented on November 9th. We were excited to present our ideas in front of supportive mentors and students. Various interesting questions were raised during the session which made us impressed. We were there to learn not only from professional lecturers and teachers but also from each other!
Last but not least, new connections with friends from other universities across Vietnam was likewise the meaningful value that we all received from this special program. Every day, we had two tea break times lasting for around 15 minutes and this time was a chance for us to sharing as well as discussing what we just learned from such amazing professors.
One of the most unforgettable moments was the networking
night organized with the purpose to connect everybody. We gathered together and
joined games that were designed to help everybody remember our friend’s name as
well as some special information about them such as their hometown, university,
or even the special food in their hometown. The night’s atmosphere was so cozy,
funny and full of laughter. After the game, we had a sharing session in which
everybody shared what they thought about the program or how they felt during
the past few days we stayed and learned together. This session was so touching
Besides making friends with participants, we also value this chance to connect with experts and speakers invited to the program. We spent time talking with them during break time and took pictures after their session.
The opportunity to attend “50 Student Environmental
Ambassadors in Vietnam 2020” was precious to us. We have learned and grown a lot. We thank Sunwah Foundation
and Vietnam National University, Hanoi for organizing such a wonderful project.
—Reported by Sunwah GYLN Ho Chi Minh City Chapter members
Since the launching of Sunwah Foundation’s Global Young Leaders Network (GYLN) in 2014, the platform has been constantly expanding and engaging more and more talented young people from around the world. Among chapters from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Macau, Canada, Japan, UK, Vietnam, Cambodia, Sunwah Foundation has signed an MoU with Michigan State University (MSU), USA on the establishment of the MSU USA Chapter this year.
This chapter’s establishment is a partnership between Sunwah Foundation and the MSU’s Global Youth Advancement Network (GYAN) – a unit in the Office of International Studies and Programs. It serves as a coordinating platform for research and international development activities related to education, entrepreneurship, mentoring, and leadership training of youth between the ages of 18 and 35.
The MSU USA Chapter was established in January 2020. The Chapter will launch two social services projects. The first project is career counseling in Michigan high schools as the job market has become more competitive due to COVID-19. The second project is sanitation support for Ugandan girls by distributing sanitary products to girls in Uganda that have been most affected by the pandemic lockdown.
The MSU USA Chapter, as well as all GYLN Chapters around the world, receive full support from the Sunwah Foundation in implementing their ideas to enhance leadership skills through various social services projects.
In the first month of 2020, all the members of Sunwah GYLN, Hanoi Chapter had such a great opportunity to celebrate our 5th year anniversary combined with Internal Communication Training and Contest. Founded in 2014, Sunwah – GYLN Hanoi Chapter has successfully operated for 5 years with numerous outstanding and meaningful projects. Five years is not a long period of time, but thanks to the last 5 years, what we gained is not only precious experience but also good friends and unforgettable life lessons.
We would like to pay sincere tribute to Sunwah at large and the alumni who had laid the foundation of our network and have been very supportive to later generations. By organizing the communication contest with the theme of “Sunwah in my heart”, we hope that all members can better understand and appreciate the role of Sunwah-GYLN, Sunwah Group and Sunwah Foundation in our projects and our self-development. Specifically, the contest desires to encourage current members to express their gratitude and contribute back to these institutions.
We also expected to deliver the communication-related knowledge to all current Sunwah-GYLN members. Acknowledging the significance of communication in the project’s success, we hope that all members are well-equipped with vital knowledge and skills, then if needed, willingly to make full use of these skills to support other Sunwah-GYLN’s projects in the future and facilitate their working and studying as well.
Internal Communication Training and Contest
Firstly, Internal Communication Contest was run in 3 weeks with 3 rounds. On 29 December, 2019, we invited Ms. Dinh Thi Thu Ha, an expert on Communication from Vinschool Education System to deliver a one-day lesson on designing various communication tools such as powerpoint, video and photoshop. At first, most of Sunwah-GYLN Hanoi Chapter members could only handle to create few products based on very basic knowledge about designing, but then after the training course with thorough preparation by Ms. Ha, we all managed to use Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft PowerPoint and Filmora.
We believe that anyone in Sunwah should know about designing and acquire background knowledge about communication tools in the context of the 4.0 revolution and being on the doorstep of the 5th revolution. These skills can be applicable to enhance the coverage of Sunwah-GYLN in terms of media and among the youth in Vietnam as well as in the world. In addition, all members can also leverage their work ability and self-development.
In order to apply all the skills and knowledge that we learnt on that day, we also held a communication contest to find out the best learners and celebrate the 5th year anniversary of Sunwah-GYLN, Hanoi Chapter under the theme of ‘’Sunwah in my heart’’. Ms. Ha and Chairman of Sunwah-GYLN, Hanoi Chapter, Ms. Nhung had announced the best performers out of many excellent designing products made by Sunwah-GYLN members in the event of this anniversary.
The best performer prize was given to Truc – a member of Communication Department with her unique book cover design. She said that she wanted to publish a book of history of people in Sunwah-GYLN as all the alumni of Sunwah-GYLN were outstanding participants and contributed greatly to the development of Sunwah-GYLN.
The runner-up winner and top 3 prizes were given to Mai, a member of Logistics Department and Huyen, a member of Communication Department.
The 5th Anniversary of Sunwah GYLN – Hanoi Chapter
As Sunwah-GYLN, Hanoi Chapter had turned to the 5th year of operation, we wanted to mark this turning-point with a memorable event which is the 5th year anniversary taken place on the 10th of January, 2020. We also invited the alumni to participate the Year-end party and then gave advice on the operation of the whole project, which would be a good opportunity for everyone to connect and share.
A recap video was prepared to rewind what we have achieved so far. Through each project, we grew up a little, learnt a lot. Seeing our 5 years together with many laughs, lessons and familiar faces brought many of us to tears.
The 5th anniversary was also an occasion for us to hear valued shares from Ms. Le Thi Thu Lua – Manager, representative from Sunwah Foundation. Ms. Lua was the one who accompanied us from the first day until now. She has been with Sunwah GYLN Hanoi Chapter from the first step, guided us through many projects with valued advices. Not only reminded us about what we have committed to do, but Ms. Lua also encouraged us to keep up the spirit and continue to contribute to the society development in general and to focus on self-growth in particular.
During this event, we presented Leader of the year (Ms. Dong, member of Logistics Department), Outstanding member of the year (Ly, member of Logistics Department and Truc, member of Communication Department) and Promising member of the year (Nghia, member of Communication Department and Trang, member of Logistics Department) awards to commend and reward the contribution of these members during the period of 2019. Some takes double degrees at college, some is working and studying at the same time and some comes from other provinces. In spite of all these difficulties, they are fully committed with Sunwah-GYLN and made 2019 a great year of meaningful and successful projects.
On the threshold of a new year, we – all active members and alumni of Sunwah-GYLN, Hanoi Chapter celebrated our 5th year birthday together. It was such a honor for us to gather together and share our own stories in Sunwah-GYLN. We had spent our youth, our college time and our passion here with Sunwah-GYLN which means that Sunwah-GYLN is always in our heart, as the name of the celebration ‘’Sunwah in my heart’’.
There is no doubt that Sunwah-GYLN, Sunwah Group, and Sunwah Foundation provides a lot of precious opportunities for its members. Without the support of these in every aspect, the projects would not have been implemented successfully and achieved public recognition. In addition, thanks to the success of previous projects run by the alumni, the 4th and 5th generation of Sunwah-GYLN have gained many benefits such as operating experiences, media networking to run upcoming ones. Therefore, not only is it an opportunity for all current members to gather together and strengthen relationships within the network but also a chance for new members of 2019 to express gratitude for the alumni and flashback our network’s former events and projects.
We promise to keep pursuing our goals, implementing practical projects and delivering our messages to more young people to build a better world.
Five years and to be continued, we cherished every single moment.
A year full of hope and possibility is waiting for us, ‘’bold and young’’ souls of Sunwah-GYLN.
Deeply concerned with the difficult conditions that pupils of Ngoc Phai elementary school have experienced and acknowledging the importance of physical training in the development of children, Sunwah-GYLN Hanoi Chapter decided to hold the philanthropic event here with a variety of team activities. The two-day Warm Tet 2020, which aimed to bring joy and happiness during the new year to underprivileged children in Bac Kan province, was successfully implemented. This meaningful activity demonstrates not only the remarkable efforts of our members but also their great dedication in community-based projects.
Before our departure
We spent seven days on logistical preparation. By spreading out information and the meaning of the projects on multiple social media chanels, we have received lots of support from friends and other charity organizations. After our call for donation, we received more than 100 children books in very good condition and in diverse themes (from tales, novels to science books). In our last day of preparation, we have got a call from a charity partner who heard about our trip and decided to donate 32 boxes of biscuits to Ngoc Phai school. What a wonderful news! We are so thrilled that our projects have reached so many kind people who shared our concern and helped us to carry out our mission. A large number of plants, notebooks, color pencils, pens and other items were prepared as well.
Departing from Hanoi in the early afternoon, we were extremely excited about the trip ahead. This year, besides 10 core members from Sunwah GYLN Hanoi Chapters, we also warmly welcomed 9 volunteers from different universities and companies in Hanoi to participate. We all shared the concern about doing something for the children in Ngoc Phai School, to bring joy and to make their new year more memorable. They are not only volunteers for one trip but also precious friends that we truly appreciate!
After doing the inventory and packing up all the items, we are ready to go to Bac Kan at around 1.50PM.
We reached the school at about 6PM. Welcoming us were teachers of Ngoc Phai Primary School. Their warm hospitality received us all and we noticed the cheerful looks and smiles of them when we got off the coach.
Then, we quickly prepared for the evening show featuring the music performance by local students and GYLN members. This festive activity was an occasion for Sunwah – GYLN Hanoi Chapter members to get to know children from ethnic minority, their life and their culture.
We also organized some games with a lot of small gifts, which undoubtedlysparkedtheir interest in the show. They enthusiastically engaged in the game, had good laugh and great fun. In this activity, two MCs (Trong Nghia & Vo Trang) successfully fulfilled their task. Although it was the first time they had taken this role, they made it naturally and professionally, which was shown clearly through the students’ reaction.
When we returned to the school the following day, students seemed so thrilled and happy. The very first activity was to grow plants at the schoolyard in the hope that the school atmosphere could be more attractive and always full of vitality. We planted Poinsettia or Trang nguyen flower in Vietnamese (means the person who was ranked first in the palace examination) as we did expect that students could be more motivated by the meaning of this flower, then study hard and achieve academic success. We assigned each class with a number of flowers to grow in the areas their class in charge of during the school year. The students really enjoyed this activity as they willingly helped teachers and the volunteers to dig and hoe the soil.
Knowing the irreplaceable role of physical development in a child’s growth, we decided to set up a soccer field in the schoolyard, with aim to motivate the pupils to have more physical activities, at the same time, to learn team work and cooperate with others. We were all so glad to see the smile of all the students when everything was completed.
After setting up the soccer field, we gathered all the children and discuss with them about the importance of sport in particular and of physical development in general. Besides numbers and facts, we also shared about our own thoughts and experiences that we gained in our life. The children were all very attentive and we hoped that our sharing could touch them and leave some down-to-earth lessons.
As with any sport, skill and fun levels increase with more opportunity for children to play and practice. Therefore, we invited all teachers at Ngoc Phai school to continue to encourage the pupils to play. There are so many creative ways to introduce children to the game and to continue lifelong learning of it through activities which focus on the most fundamental skills in soccer: passing, receiving and controlling the ball, shooting, and dribbling. The new set up at the schoolyard hopefully will bring excitement and motivation to the children each day going to school. With all activities, the focus should be on encouragement, enthusiasm, team work, and enjoyment. The more a child grows in their knowledge and love of the game, the greater the chances that they will become lifelong enthusiasts of wellness and physical activity.
The game starts
After that, we organized a competition of making calendar of the year 2020 among 5 classes with the aim of developing cultural exchange, helping Sunwah-GYLN members get closer to local pupils and building friendship between the children and us. We prepared 12 papers for 12 months of 2020 and leave some spaces for the students to draw up anything they love to do in each month.
As it was a teamwork activity, students collaborated with each other enthusiastically and effectively in an attempt to win the competition. After the time allocated, we saw five different but creative calendars and were deeply moved by their sharing of their drawings. These little angels showed us their dreams of having a warm and fulfilling Tet holiday with their family or their expectations for next semester. Simple as these drawings might seem, they were the most beautiful souls we ever met.
Fun was not yet over. We expanded the activities by organizing a competitive game – bag jumping. The students were divided into 8 groups to compete and undoubtedly, this game amazed them a great deal although they might have played it before. We could see the delight in their eyes and bright faces with beautiful smile. Not only that, what means the most was their solidarity, their efforts and the way they enjoyed it.
For the last part of the morning, we handed over gifts to all students and teachers as well. The children were thrilled to be given cookies, books and color pencils. The gift set for teacher staffs includes a pen, a notebook and packs of biscuit. In addition, we also granted 5 scholarships to disadvantaged students with excellent academic performance. We hoped that these scholarships would financially and emotionally support them and motivate their further learning to become good citizens and overcome the difficulties. Furthermore, the books donated as well as those selected and bought by Sunwah-GYLN Hanoi team were handed to teachers to establish a mini-sized library for each class. Even though we did not have a chance to see how the bookshelves are set-up by our donation, we could feel their enjoyment to receive those precious gifts. Needless to say, our gifts warm up their Tet holiday, and their joy warms our hearts!
At noon, we set out to leave Ngoc Phai Elementary School. The morning program ended reluctantly. Even though this was truly a productive experience for us all, but we had to leave too soon. There was still more we wanted to do for the children, to be with them and fully understand them. The children wanted us to stay longer. They wished us to return next year. They gazed ardently at us when we were prepared to leave. We knew they wanted to express hundreds of words of love.
We left the school, promising the students and teachers to come back. What we proudly left behind is the students’ great affection for us and the unforgettable time we had together. We really appreciate that!
The very last few words
After all, it was not vital skills, such as organizing and management are acquired by Sunwah-GYLN members that matter the most, but the emotions that we had after the journey. We feel the changes inside us after interacting with them. We experienced new things; we stepped out of our comfort zone to make others happy. We learnt how to empathize, to assist, to bring happiness and joy to the other. Of course, we also discovered exotic aspects of ethnic people’s lives to better understand and respect. This occasion may offer each member different experiences, but one thing we all share in common is that we have already created real impacts, made great contribution to the project’s success and we are glad to be part of it!
In November 2019, our Sunwah Global Young Leaders Network (Sunwah GYLN)- Vietnam Chapter members were invited to Macao to participate in the “Macau Sunwah GYLN International Summit 2019” organized by Sunwah Group at University of Macau. The trip not only leaves memorable experiences for all GYLN chapters from various countries and regions, including Hong Kong, Macao, China, Japan, UK, Canada, Cambodia and Vietnam but also creates valuable opportunity for us to strengthen our international outlook, friendship and leadership skills.
Innovation Network Seminar by Sunwah and Innovation Center of University of Macau
On the very first day (31 October) when we just arrived at Macau, we had a great opportunity to learn about the world’s latest innovations in various fields such as education, business, medicine, technology, etc. at the Innovation Center of University of Macau.
In the afternoon, several representatives of Sunwah-GYLN attended an Innovation Network Seminar organized by Sunwah Group and the Center, in which Sunwah’s key partners from Canada, Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China and Vietnam shared their experiences and achievement of working on innovation in their own regions; among all, Vietnam left a strong impression for all the attendees for not only its rapid integration, but also its dynamic startup ecosystem.
After the seminar, we were invited to a welcome dinner with all other GYLN members. It was a great honor to greet Ms. Betty Chan, Executive Director of Sunwah Foundation, Sunwah Group and many other professors, experts from Canada, US and China to join the dinner with us. During the dinner, we also have the chance to listen to inspiring sharings delivered by representatives of Canada Chapter,Vietnam Chapter and Japan Chapter. Even though the dinner was the very first time that we met each other, we were so impressed by the enthusiasm and confidence of all GYLN members.
“Sunwah Group: From Macau to the World 62 Years” event
To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the PRC, the 20th Anniversary of the Return of Macau to Mainland China and the 5th Anniversary of Choi Kai Yau College in the University of Macau, Sunwah Group has organized the event “Sunwah Group: From Macau to the World 62 Years” at University of Macau. On the 1st of November, all GYLN members were invited to join the International Conference “New Trend in Education and International Exchange”, one of the main activity of the “Sunwah: From Macau to the World 62 Years” event at Mr. and Mrs. Lau Chor Tak Lecture Theatre.
The conference started with the welcome remarks delivered by Dr Jonathan Choi, Chairman of Sunwah Group and Sunwah Foundation. His remarks was so inspiring and touching, allowing us to learn more about the connection of Sunwah Group with Macau as well as his committment to promoting educational and cultural development, as well as to facilitating the international exchanges among various countries and regions. During the Plenary Session, there were many speeches given by professors from prestigious educational institutions and universities around the world. The conference gave us a variety of new ideas and terminologies about education and innovation. Listening to these fruitful speeches kept us questioning ourselves how to keep up with the fast-moving world out there and how to be a global citizen as well as a leader in our own community.
In the afternoon, we attended the “Choi Kai Yau College 5th Anniversary Celebration’’ and the photo exhibition by the college students named “The Hidden Beauty of Macau”, provoking our interest in beautiful antique streets to hustle Macau by night. It is widely known that Macau is “City of the Name of God, there is none more loyal’’, but after visiting the exhibition, we got to know the fact that Macau also had its own cultural identity with a long continuous history. The glamour of casinos and starred hotels was overshadowed with the unembellished beauty of the original people living outside the city centre.
The Cultural Show evening brought various performances from China, Japan, Cambodia, Hong Kong and Vietnam under the theme of “Sunwah: From Macau to the World for 62 years”. The countries and regions represented in this show are places where Sunwah Group has established its business, education and culture networks. It is a precious opportunity for all GYLN members to learn about cultural diversity to broaden our horizons.
The China’s Dun Huang Dance performed by the Beijing Dance Academy brought us beautiful feelings about human’s passion and emotions; the Japanese’s traditional dance expressed Japanese elegance through the eternal property of their country; the Cambodian’s Apsara performances showed a classic dance for pleasing gods and humankind, to keep the harmony of the universe. The “Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen” was inspirationally performed by Ms Carol Lin via her powerful, light, and high voice to send a love message.
The Cultural Show ended with Vietnam Chapter performing their traditional song “Rice Drum” and a choir of all GYLN members singing the song “Fly”. After only one day rehearsing together, we became friends and partners, shared every moment of joy, happiness and above all – unity. Everyone put all their heart and soul into the performance, sang along together and held each other’s hand tightly as friends. All of us will always keep in our mind the beauty of that night, the cheerful smiles of our friends, and the intimate friendship of GYLN.
Workshop of the dance groups from China, Cambodia, Japan and Hong Kong
With the aim of helping GYLN members have a good grasp of the meaning of the performances in the Cultural Show, Sunwah Group held this workshop on the following day at Choi Kai Yau College. It was the first time we had met such incredible people from different parts of the world working in performing arts and learned about their career as well as the hidden messages conveyed in every performance. Some were hard to comprehend but for us, all the performers had done an admirable job of not only preserving their traditional cultural values but also soothing other people’s souls through their elegant movements on the stage.
The Leadership training workshop by Peter Lougheed Leadership College, University of Alberta, Canada
The leadership training workshop prepared by Dr Stasia, Director of Instruction, Peter Lougheed Leadership College, University of Alberta, helped GYLN members learn a myriad of things relating to leadership. In detail, we learned about different leadership styles, formal versus informal authority, charismatic leadership, followership and how to build purpose statement. We were all interested in the teaching method of Dr Cristina Stasia and her teaching fellows. To us, they are more than a lecturer, they are also heartfelt inspirers. They motivated us to step outside our comfort zone, voice our opinions and learn from each other. Activities held during the workshop were extremely delightful, engaging all GYLN members to join energetically.
This not only enabled us to understand the lessons at a greater extent but also created a chance for us to build mutual understanding within the network. On the second day of the workshop, we were all touched when Panha – the Cambodian member carefully held our precious possession, attentively listened to us sharing our personal stories related to the thing and in the end, she burst into tears. That emotional moment made us feel much closer to each other.
We truly appreciate the opportunity of attending this wonderful workshop. Although it just lasted for a few days, it undeniably supported us to perform our leadership role more effectively in a long time.
Sightseeing in Macau
Since the day we arrived in Macau, we had been impressed by the beauty of this city. Despite having searched for the famous destinations in Macau beforehand, we still could not imagine how modern and gorgeous Macau actually is.
GYLN members in Macau Chapter took us to many places where we could explore the breathtaking scenes of European and Asian culture mingled in every corner of this city. We never forget the charming sunset when we climbed up the Museum of Macau and other impressive structures such as Eiffel Tower or the magnificent Venetian. Besides being the largest gambling center in the world, Macau took us by surprise with the ancient beauty of the China town and other historical and cultural heritages such as the Ruins of St. Paul’s and Monte Fort.
All members have been able to enjoy this trip so much with a lot of unforgettable memories thanks to Macau chapter. Despite being busy with their own jobs, Angel, Adam and Shakhawat of Macau Chapter still spent their time taking care of other members and introducing to us many beautiful places and various delicious dishes at local restaurants.
This was an amazing chance for all members to learn more about the tradition and culture of Macau.
What we experienced from the first
day until the last moment in Macau will always stay in our memory, motivating
us to perform better and build the network stronger in the long term.
Hello there! My name is Candice Oliva and I am a representative of the Canada Peter Lougheed Leadership College Chapter. I am here to share my insights on the Macau events we all participated in as part of the Sunwah GYLN International Summit 2019! From presentations and cultural shows, to conference sessions and photo exhibitions, to leadership workshops and sightseeing– there was no shortage of activities to participate in throughout our stay in Macau. The most memorable part of our journey was that we got to experience it all together with our fellow GYLN members around the world. Thanks to Sunwah Foundation, we had the opportunity to connect with some of the most brilliant, whole-hearted people from Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau and Vietnam.
Day 1, October 31st, the Canadian chapter safely landed in Macau right around noon. After nearly 24 hours of travel time, we went from a smattering of snow on the ground in Edmonton to a heavy humidity in the air in sunny Macau. I arrived in Macau with two fellow PLLC (Peter Lougheed Leadership College) Canada chapter representatives, Christy and Reshma, and with Evan from the China Institute at the University of Alberta (CIUA).
The welcome dinner soon came with warm reunions, fresh introductions and presentations from a few chapters about their projects. Christy, Reshma and I were first to share the environmental advocacy project that the PLLC Canada chapter has been working on: highlighting the negative effects of single use products on the earth to encourage producers to be more responsible about using recyclable materials. We also heard from Tom (Vietnam chapter) about building a stronger alumni network for GYLN and then Ayano (Japan chapter) prompted us to rethink our pre-existing perspectives on education.
dinner, we shuttled to University of Macau Hall to rehearse for the next
evening’s Cultural Show. From chatting with Japan chapter on the bus, I learned
about the time, effort and perseverance it took to not only learn a dance for
the Cultural Show but also create and put their costumes together. We also
learned more about the Vietnam chapter’s traditional Rice Drum song—although
the music and choreography are quite playful and joyful, the lyrics actually
convey a love story. These little previews made me excited to see all the
performances for the Cultural Show! Even more so knowing that we’ll be closing
the show with a group number. Much thanks to Jocelyn for helping us put that
Day 2, November 1st, was our first full day in Macau and we had a packed itinerary. In the morning, we attended the International Conference on “New Trends in International Education and Exchanges”. Dr. Jonathan Choi welcomed everyone warmly to celebrate “Sunwah Group: From Macau to the World for 62 Years.”. Invited speakers then followed suit to share their knowledge, research and insight into topics such as adaptive leadership, remote medical education, innovation and business, art and culture education. It was humbling and exciting to hear from leaders about their specific fields. They all spoke different languages from Chinese to French and English, so we had headsets to listen in to live translations!
in the afternoon, we saw the photo exhibition organized by students of Choi Kai
Yau College. Their photographs provided a wonderfully quaint and honest insight
into Macau – its people and its
culture, the food and the architecture. The exhibition described a different side of Macau,
apart from the
luxury hotels and casinos we had seen so far from our windows.
in the evening, we participated in the Cultural Show that brought
together traditional performances from China, Japan, Cambodia, Hong Kong and
Vietnam. At the end, GYLN members performed a song together. “Fly”, by Avril Lavigne, is
an empowering song about overcoming obstacles together through courage and
inner strength. It’s an apt song choice considering that as youth and as GYLN
members, we regularly have to deal with different challenges regarding our
chapter/project, but what matters is that we rise up and overcome them
altogether. Suffice to say, I think this evening was truly a testament that
music, dance, arts and culture have immense power to bring people together!
Day 3, November 2nd,
was the start of our workshops. In the morning, Ms. Betty Chan, Director of International Relations, Executive Director of
Sunwah Foundation, invited the guest performers and teachers from the Cultural Show to come and provide a
bit more background about the history and relevance of their performances. It
was truly a unique opportunity! We already got to see the beauty and intricacy
of each performance last night. That morning, we got to learn more in-depth
about Japan’s Nihon Buyo dance, China’s Dun Huang dance, Cambodia’s Apsara
dance and Ms. Carol Lin’s mezzo-soprano opera.
in the afternoon, we began our leadership training with Dr. Cristina Stasia,
Ms. Ren and Mr. White from the Peter Lougheed Leadership College. In the spirit
of true experiential learning, we first delved into the different styles of
leadership: traditional, transactional, charismatic and organic, then taught each
one back to each other through snapshots.
Day 4, November 3rd, was our one full
day of leadership training. The teachers kept us
engaged throughout the day with activities and games in between discussions and
reflections. We learned about the importance of followership through the plank
activity and this
We then got to work on our public speaking. We warmed up with an exercise to practice controlling our volume, pitch, and pace. Then we moved on to delivering Greta Thunberg’s “How Dare You” speech. I volunteered to go first in our small group, because this is a topic I’m passionate about. I’ve attended climate strikes in Edmonton and I’ve watched Greta Thunberg speak several times before on social media. This exercise was so self-empowering, but it was also so inspiring to watch everyone else break out of their shell and capture the room with their heartfelt speech.
To end the evening, we each expressed our gratitude
towards each other and formed a web of connections to physically show the
relationships we have built with each other within just the past few days. We
have sung together, worked together, trusted each other and experienced Macau
together—it was absolutely amazing to see that represented.
Day 5, November 4th, was our last day
together. For the last leadership workshop, the highlights for
me were the last two activities where we each created then shared our life
purpose statements as well as drawings of our Macau experience. My drawing is
the one that says: “I am filled with hope for a brighter future.”
That day, after watching everyone bravely share their
dream for the world and their learnings from this GYLN summit, I felt very
bright and hopeful. I am so proud of everyone. I believe that we have all grown a lot
even in such a short time together. We have watched each other be loud and
impassioned, be brave in vulnerability, be fabulous and take ownership over our
fabulousness. And from the bottom of my heart, I wish everyone the best. I have
no doubt each and everyone in that room will achieve great things. They are an
inspiration to me and I hope to see them again soon!
Day 6, November 5th, was the Canada chapter’s last day in Macau. Our hearts are so full that so many people dropped by saying goodbye. Thank you, last but not least, to all the diligent organizers of this GYLN in Macau event—especially Angel, Tom, Shuvoraj and Hana. Congratulations on such a successful, impactful and memorable event!
From March 16th to 24th 2019, our Canada Chapter continued the Education Project, “Our Continent from North to South” in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with the aim to provide healthy environmental learning for underprivileged children in rural and isolated communities. We returned to the Boca de Tomatlan school, where our first visit took place. We followed up with progress and continued the refurbishment work of the library space. Furthermore, in collaboration with the Yelapa School Community, we began the second part of our project, focusing on the environmental health aspect, in the Primaria and Secundaria schools, located in a small village at Yelapa, Jalisco. We aimed to provide the essential hygienic supplies. The schools also had a huge need on general school supplies. Overall, we brought over 200 interactive English books, abundant school supplies and feature-rich laptops for the schools in Boca and Yelapa.
Since we were back from our visit from Boca de
Tomatlan School in Puerto Vallarta last year, we have realized how big an
influence we are capable of making in the children’s lives just by simply
providing essential supplies and materials, as well as having the warm
interactions with them. It was eye-opening to see the children‘s level of
enthusiasm and how appreciative and grateful they were for our presence there.
This confirmed the importance of visiting the local communities directly and
showing the children love and care. This year, once again, we partnered with
Isa Mundo Foundation (isamundo.org), a well-established
non-profit organization based in Vancouver and Ottawa. After the last trip, our
influence created exposure of GYLN’s work and received appreciation from the
local community. Nearby schools located in Yelapa, a small fishing village
southwest of Puerto Vallarta, would like to have us visit and support. The
school community needs similar refurbishment work as the Boca school, and they
are desperately in need of general school supplies. So, we decided to extend
our project to support the schools in Yelapa.
Three months prior to the trip, we started
planning with the local school teachers, Cynthia from Boca and Kelley from
Yelapa. Between us, there were a lot of communications through emails such as
discussing the direction of our project, estimating the budget, and organizing
the logistics for the trip. We went all around Vancouver to gather donations of
English books and purchase school supplies. In the end, we managed to gather
five suitcases of books, school supplies and refurbished laptops to the
1. Boca de Tomatlan School
We were excited to be back at the Boca de
Tomatlan School to continue the work on the library space from last year.
This year, we provided an air conditioner for
the school library, as there has always been a strong need for this here. During
summertime in Mexico, the heat and humidity become really intense and cause computers
to break down on operating easily; which is complicated to fix later on. This
has been a major problem that the school has to face. The new air conditioner resolves
this issue and we can ensure that the laptops we brought will last longer.
We also funded a projector used for lessons and a printer for preparing handouts and notes for the students. We also provided brand new chairs and a medium sized chalkboard, as well as an extra bookshelf and a cabinet for books and supplies. Moreover, we brought over an English world map and Atlas for the classroom so Cynthia can incorporate them in her lessons.
Besides, we have brought over 100 English
books as well as some Spanish books for the school during this visit. It was
wonderful to see the storage cabinets we bought last year filled up with a
variety of school supplies.
We were very excited to see the students in
the classroom filled with energy and full of smiles. We split the students into
small groups for conversations and activities to reinforce their English
writing and speaking skills. Although the students were all at beginner’s level,
they were extremely friendly and welcoming. It was a heart-warming experience for
both the students and us to reunite after one year.
We wanted to create something meaningful and
long-lasting at the school and so we decided to start a wall mural activity
with the students. After some discussions with the teacher, we agreed to create
an environmental-themed mural, symbolizing everyone’s role in shaping and
protecting our environment. The children were very enthusiastic about the
activity and all took turns contributing to the painting. They loved to work
with paint and showed their creativity in designing the mural. In the end, we
were very proud of the mural. It added a warm and beautiful touch to the
We had a few physical outdoor activities with the students and played soccer on their playground.
Through the experience of the games, we noticed a few things with the outdoor space needed to be improved. The playground is elevated from the ground. Since there was no fencing on the side, the soccer ball kept falling off the playground and the children would jump off constantly to catch the ball. It is dangerous as the height from the ground was quite high. Students might accidentally fall off from the playground while playing and injure themselves. Many of the outdoor spaces were made of huge loosen rocks and the students were constantly jumping around. We suggested that in the future, a project can be done to build a flat surface over the rocks, so the students have a safer space to go about.
2. Yelapa School Community
Yelapa is a small fishing village by Puerto
Vallarta, and it is only accessible by water taxi or private boats. The school
community has four divisions: Kindergarten,
Primaria, Secundaria and Prepa.
Because of limited space, Secundaria and Prepa students share the same
classrooms. We visited two campuses: Primaria and Secundaria/Prepa. The main
objective was to improve the environmental health aspect of these two schools.
For this visit, we began with providing basic hygienic supplies. We installed
soap dispensers and toilet paper dispensers in the washrooms at both campuses.
The students would be introduced to proper hand washing technique and habits to
maintain personal hygiene. We also provided garbage cans for each classroom.
Also, the water pump at the Primaria campus was broken down so there was no
running water at the school. We planned to provide them the funding and
resources to fix the pump. On the side, the printer at Secundaria school was
not functioning and we started to look for a new printer for the school with
supplies of paper and ink. The schools were also in need of books and general
school supplies. We brought over 100 English books and many school supplies,
including notebooks, pencils, markers, chalkboard erasers, crayons and much
When we arrived at the pier, Kelley was there
to meet us. The roads in Yelapa were not well-developed and there were no cars
for transportation. People got around by riding ATVs, horses or mules. We
carried the luggage to Kelley’s English school called “Mi Escuilita”, and
arranged an ATV to transport the luggage to the Secundaria school.
We participated in the spring festival
organized by the Primaria students on the beach. They were dressed up as different
forest animals and insects, celebrating the coming of spring.
We visited the Secundaria/Prepa school first. It was located deep in the village and we had a long walk up to the school. When we arrived at the school, we greeted the principal and she gave us a tour of the school. We went to the washrooms and checked our newly installed soap dispensers. We also discussed with the school principal and the teachers about their needs and potential future plans for the classrooms.
There were three classes in total in
Secundaria. For each class, we interacted with the students and explained the
goal of GYLN and the work we did. They were curious about our involvement and
some even wanted to join. We had a great time interacting with them, it was a
nice experience to exchange ideas and experiences. Then, we distributed the
books to individual students, and they were so happy to own an English book.
One of the challenges we faced was the uneven roads in the village, where it is difficult to drag and carry the luggage. On arrival, we introduced ourselves to the teachers and discussed the conditions and future plans for the school. Then, we started to assess the condition of the campus.
We visited the classrooms and the dining room,
including a little kitchen for the teachers to cook. The teachers also washed
their clothes in the same room and hung them outside to dry because there was
not enough room in their small living space.
We checked the washrooms and set up the soap
For this school, we saw a lot of safety issues
that should be addressed immediately. We were shocked to find that because the
space was so limited two teachers were living inside a very small room whose
ceiling was falling apart and may collapse at any moment. The living environment was
dangerous and unpleasant, and thus the turnover rate of the teachers was quite
The pathway in front of the bathrooms of the
school was elevated from the ground, without any safety protection. The
teachers informed us that a lot of students got injured by accidentally falling
offs. Ledges should be installed to ensure the safety of the students. Safety
should always come first before education, so this is a high priority for the
3. Casa Connor
Casa Connor is a facility for the program
called Pasitos de Luz (pasitosdeluz.org), a
non-profit charity that provides care for children with disabilities from low
income families in Banderas Bay, Mexico.
We volunteered at Casa Connor again, and we
were happy to see all the children and staff again. This time, we also got to
meet Peter and Teena, the founder of Casa Connor. From discussion with the
owners and local staff, we knew that they were trying hard to fundraise for the
program, because they provided the service for families for free and the cost
to maintain the facilities was high. Hence, they were finding ways to lower the
cost such as growing their own garden to self-sustain their food supply.
Together with Isa Mundo Foundation, we donated a Vitamix Blender to the facility.
We helped feed the children.
Although this project trip went smoothly, we
faced a few challenges. When we were planning the visit for Yelapa, there were
many concerns regarding to the logistics: whether we could bring the heavy
suitcases on the boat, how to get the suitcase on and off the boat at the pier,
and the prices to include the suitcases. We made sure the suitcases were packed
appropriately. In the end, we managed to bring three heavy suitcases filled
with books and school supplies to Yelapa. It was also physically challenging to
visit schools in Yelapa as some roads were very inclined and there was a lot of
walking under the hot weather.
Overall, this was a productive and fulfilling
experience for us. For Boca de Tomatlan School, we were amazed at how the
library space was transformed from an unused storage space by the support of
GYLN. For Yelapa, it was a wonderful experience to explore the village and
visit the schools and the wonderful teachers and students. There is still so
much work to do in Yelapa School Community. The washrooms need to be
refurbished completely since plumbing does not work. There are safety issues at
the Primaria school and installments of safety fences are required for some
areas. The condition of the teachers’ homes is desperately in need to be
improved. Most of all, they are always looking for donations of books and
school supplies for the students. We will keep in contact with Kelley to
continue our support for the schools.
We are so grateful to have the opportunity to
provide a healthy learning environment for the students. The most inspiring
moments were when the children showed us so much love. They were appreciative
and thankful for everything. This showed us the importance of going back to
connect with the local communities to show our love and support for the
We would like to thank all the donors who donated books and school
supplies for this project, and also Cynthia and Kelley, the teachers in Boca
and Yelapa for all their efforts in organizing and planning this trip with us.
We also appreciate the sponsorship of flight ticket discount and checked
baggage exemption from Air Transat.
Once again, it was a successful partnership with Isa Mundo Foundation,
and we look forward to continuing our collaborations to serve the communities