GYLN Internal Bonding Event 2022

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In celebration of its 8th anniversary, Sunwah GYLN Hanoi Chapter held a bonding event in the evening of April 24 at the ULIS-Jonathan KS Choi Cultural Center with the presence of Ms. Janice Le – Representative of Sunwah Hanoi Office, Ms. Chi Dao – Partnership Executive of Sunwah Hanoi Office, and 20 members and alumni of the Chapter. The event, consisting of a meeting and a dinner with many activities, was an occasion for members to learn about each other and gain better understanding of the organization.

To begin the meeting, Ms. Janice Le, who has guided the Chapter for the past eight years, delivered an encouraging opening address, noting that Hanoi’s chapter is a vibrant branch. In the words of Ms. Le, the significant age gap as well as diverse backgrounds of the members has become the unique characteristics of Sunwah GYLN, allowing members to complement one another and grow in a variety of ways. The case of Ms. To Nhu, who is currently in charge of the HR and Communication Teams, is a significant example of Ms. Le’s sharing. Ms. To Nhu revealed that two years ago, when she lacked experience and didn’t know how to express herself in the application form, she was disqualified in the CV screening round. Unprecedentedly, her dedication in the thank-you email has opened the door for her to become a mentee of the Hanoi Chapter and later an official member. The alumni’s recognition and nurturing of her talent over the last two years provided her with several opportunities to improve professionally and inspired her to remain a member of the Hanoi Chapter. 

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Ms. Janice Le delivering a speech on behalf of Sunwah Foundation

The meeting continued with an inspiring sharing session during which Ms. Tam Dong, the Chairwoman of the Hanoi Chapter, and alumni as well as other outstanding members gave their remarks. Every single one of them reflected on their time at Sunwah GYLN as an excellent platform for helping each individual improve while also giving back to the community.  In addition, Sunwah GYLN has provided them with genuine friendships that have lasted well beyond their time with the organization. These bonds has bound many GYLN alumni together and many will always consider GYLN part of their youth.

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Ms. Anh Truc sharing her own experience at Sunwah GYLN

Afterward, all members and alumni participated in a quiz game with 20 questions about Sunwah Group, Sunwah Foundation, Sunwah GYLN in general, and Hanoi Chapter in particular, followed by a brief presentation and a fruitful discussion led by Ms. Ngoc Quynh – Vice-Chairwoman of Hanoi Chapter about strategic orientation and future projects of the Chapter. 

On this occasion, on behalf of Sunwah Foundation, Ms. Janice Le awarded honorable titles and certificates of recognition to alumni and members with remarkable contributions.

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Ms. Janice Le awarding honorable titles to outstanding members and alumni
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Ms. Janice Le awarding certificates of recognition to alumni

At the end of the meeting, new members were invited to introduce themselves and share the reasons why they joined the Hanoi Chapter. It turned out that they all had known Sunwah GYLN from previous activities and were really interested in participating in such projects, and seeking more international experiences. They also expressed confidence in this global platform and eagerness for new experiences with the organization.

During dinner, members had the opportunity to get to know and understand more about each other and about Sunwah GYLN. Members and alumni all appreciated the gathering and felt proud of being part of this organization.

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Birthday dinner with barbecue buffet

Reported by Hanoi Chapter, May 6, 2022

Sunwah GYLN 3rd Workshop on Leadership led by Angeline Letourneau – Teaching Fellow of Peter Lougheed Leadership College (University of Alberta)

On Saturday, April 24th, 2022, Sunwah GYLN members from various chapters attended the online leadership training workshop on “Followership: The Forgotten Side of Leadership”. At the beginning of the workshop, Angeline and her team moderated discussions on the definition and role of leaders and followers before diving into three types of followers: passive, effective, and alienated. Following the discussion, there were then three separate breakout rooms for experiential learning. For 15 minutes each, the participants in each room worked on their own case studies, which allowed them to actively share ideas and play their own parts.

Moderator shared about 3 types of #followership and their distinct characteristics
Group photo of all participants and moderators at the end of the workshop

At the end of the workshops, participants were encouraged to reflect on their learning and experiences.

  • In the absence of followers, there cannot be true leadership. Despite the fact that followers are sometimes given a lower status than leaders, they are an essential part of every team.
  • In order to push the team to its boundaries and enable everyone to play to their abilities, it is critical to grasp the characteristics of the three categories of followers.
  • Leaders are generals who direct and assist their teams. However, instead of merely telling your team what to do, show them how to do it.
  • Followers are encouraged to raise questions to clarify orders and directives from their leaders.

The program was a success, with participants gaining fresh insights.

GYLN Workshop on Mental Wellness and Trust in Teams led by Helene Jørgensen of Peter Lougheed Leadership College, University of Alberta

On Sunday, November 28th, 2021, nearly 60 members of Sunwah Foundation Global Young Leaders Network from 11 Chapters around the globe have successfully celebrated the second online workshop on leadership with the participation of Ms Helene Jørgensen – Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alberta. During the workshop, Ms Helene and her team facilitated discussions about the representation of mental wellness, how to maintain mental wellness, and how to build trust within teams. There were several breakout rooms for small and large group discussions, active question and answer exchanges, and sharing of personal experiences.

Ms Helene Jørgensen, fellow teachers and GYLN members participating in the workshop

Throughout the workshop, Ms Helene delivered several key messages on mental wellness and building trust within teams, including creating a safe “container” where whatever you share stays within the team. It denotes a secure environment in which to share. Maintaining and supporting mental wellness were also mentioned as it is more important than ever in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The member of GYLN then learned about the different meanings of mental wellness to different people. Each individual should develop their own definition of mental wellness and the types of activities that keep their mind in good shape. It is critical to care for your own mental health as well as the mental health of others. One method is to show people you care about a safe vault.

At the end of the workshop, GYLN members shared their own experiences on trust and all agreed that trust is something that must be built and earned over time.

The active discussions in the breakout rooms showed that mental wellness is a topic attracting participants’ interest, especially when they asked a series of questions surrounding the topic. Everyone had a great time discussing and sharing knowledge, as well as improving leadership skills in terms of mental wellness and trust.

After all, the workshop was encased in the feeling of passion with young people who are eager to learn and improve their knowledge. It was a precious chance for all GYLN members to widen their social network and develop knowledge about the mechanism of leadership.

[Sunwah-GYLN PLLC Canada Chapter] Fighting for Our Future: Sustainability, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), and Climate Action

Before the COVID-19 pandemic came into center stage of the global community, the Sunwah GYLN PLLC Canada Chapter worked on a sustainability awareness campaign in 2019 called “Fighting for Our Future” where we strived to combat climate change through increasing awareness on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Our campaign centered around two of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Responsible Consumption and Production (#12) as well as Climate Action (#13).

Climate change is undeniably one of the biggest issues facing society today and responsible waste management plays a significant role in the rate of acceleration of climate change.  EPR is an emerging trend in the field of environmental policy and waste management that looks at the sustainability of specific consumable goods in both the post-consumption and disposal stage. The idea of EPR is to shift waste management responsibility upstream in the product’s life cycle to the producers so that action can be taken before irreversible damage is done to our environment. This means that producers are designing every product with a specific recycling plan in mind from the very beginning in efforts to make more products recyclable. As a chapter, we believed that the two-pronged strategy of encouraging both consumers to responsibly manage their waste and producers to proactively adopt more sustainable production methods as the optimal method to secure a more sustainable future. Through our videos and social media campaign, the GYLN PLLC Canada Chapter:

  1. Raised awareness for EPR to help ensure a sustainable Earth;
  2. Raised awareness on harmful environmental effects associated with a lack of EPR;
  3. Promoted sustainable practices the general public can adopt;
  4. And initiated a call to action in our community – to “Fight for Our Future” against climate change.

Our first step of this campaign was to alert the public that our planet’s resources are finite and that we will soon be in a crisis state if we continue wasteful habits. In order to extend the life of our planet’s finite resources so that for the generations to come, life on Earth will still be possible – we as a chapter launched our first video “Fighting for Our Future”. By introducing the concept of EPR and advocating for sustainability, we hope that we can lead a change in responsible production.

GYLN PLLC produced the video above: “Fighting for Our Future

In the process of making our videos and other related campaign content, the GYLN PLLC Canada Chapter toured local landfills in Edmonton, Alberta, where we were able to familiarize ourselves with the current waste management system in place and gather insight on the challenges the industry faces. One such challenge brought to our attention during our landfill tour and our team’s research was the waste product of plastic clamshell packaging. Although the plastic used to make clamshells are often highly recyclable, the adhesives and labels used on these clamshells make the recycling process incredibly difficult. The adhesives on these clamshells require extensive washing to be separated from the recyclable plastic which puts higher demands on both time and resources. As a result, the “not-so-recycle-friendly” clamshells frequently end up in landfills where they take over hundreds of years to decompose, leaving a significant carbon footprint behind.

Sunwah GYLN PLLC members touring the Edmonton Waste Management Centre (EWMC)
Campaign Mascot, Clancy the Clamshell

With this new knowledge in mind, our team decided to further mobilize this knowledge into the community, illustrating how products such as clamshells can lead to devastating consequences for our environment. To do this, we created an educational stop motion video about how the current production of clamshells prevents them from being recyclable and developed our campaign mascot, “Clancy the Clamshell”. By incorporating a mascot character within our video, we hoped to attract further interest and maintain the awareness of the public with a lasting impression. From storyboarding, scriptwriting, to building a full filming set largely out of recyclable products, we strove to capture our sustainability mission through every piece of our project. Ultimately, our goal was to target consumers and producers through a relatable story and encourage them to make more sustainable decisions. 

GYLN PLLC produced the video above: “Adventures of Clancy the Clamshell”

This stop motion video captures “Clancy the Clamshell” at the end of their product life cycle where they are awaiting to be sorted at the “Blue Bag Community” (recycling center). Unfortunately, Clancy is told that as a clamshell, they are not recyclable and will need to be transferred to the biofuel center to be destroyed or dumped with other garbage. Clancy is told that perhaps one day their fate as clamshells will be different if EPR policies are introduced into the community’s waste management protocols. This video is a call to action for the need of EPR polices in our communities.

Alongside the production of our videos urging for a call to action on climate change, we connected with our public audience via social media. We posted weekly posts surrounding the topic of sustainability and provided concrete methods as to how the general public can easily contribute to the cause. For example, we encouraged the community to use reusable bags when shopping to reduce plastic waste and followed up with a separate post emphasizing on the devastating effects plastic waste can have on our oceanic ecosystem. Our sustainability social media series successfully garnered attention and increased our social media engagement.

We hope our work here is only the start that sparks a movement leading to lasting change in the form of government implemented EPR legislation in Canada, and eventually, around the world.

— Reported by GYLN PLLC Canada Chapter members

Leadership Training Workshop with Dr Cristina Stasia from the University of Alberta, Canada

On Sunday, October 10th, 2021, nearly 60 members of Sunwah Foundation Global Young Leaders Network from 11 Chapters around the globe have successfully celebrated the first online workshop on leadership with Dr. Cristina Stasia, Director of Instruction – Peter Lougheed Leadership, University of Alberta. The workshop also received great attention and participation from Sunwah Group leaders and associates, namely Ms Betty Chan, Executive Director of Sunwah Foundation, Director of International Relations of Sunwah Group, and Ms Janice Le, Manager of Sunwah Foundation.

The virtual event was packed with contentment and enthusiasm. Initially, all members had the opportunity to meet renowned guest speakers as well as leading individuals from Sunwah Foundation. It was such an honor for the whole network to welcome these charismatic speakers on screen, especially Dr. Cristina Stasia.

Throughout the 2-hour workshop, exchanges between GYLN members and teachers were encouraged through breakout rooms for small group discussions, active question posing, and personal experience sharing. During the workshop, Dr Stasia clarified the distinction between leadership and authority, as well as the relationship between the two.

Dr Stasia, fellow teachers, associates from Sunwah Foundation and GYLN members participated in the workshop

We then learned about formal and informal authority. The lively discussions in the breakout rooms proved that the topic is certainly new and exciting for all GYLN members. We all shared personal experiences with and implementation of authority, both formal and informal.

GYLN members from Vietnam, China, Macau, Hong Kong, Cambodia, USA and Canada joined in the workshop

Dr Stasia later clarified the distinction between previously assumed and adaptive leadership. Dr Stasia also praised GYLN’s spirit and effort in contributing to the community and making the world a better place. GYLN members are unquestionably the young leaders who practice adaptive leadership in their projects and activities on a daily basis.

After all, the workshop was encased in the feeling of passion and surrounded by so many inquisitive stakeholders. It was a precious chance for all GYLN members to widen our social network and develop knowledge about the mechanism of leadership. We would like to express our utmost gratitude and appreciation towards Dr Cristina Stasia, many professors as well as international GYLN members, and specifically, Sunwah Foundation, for giving us the opportunity to interact with many professional individuals worldwide. The workshop must be a motivational contributor in our progress of becoming an all-around leader, sparking our aspiration to keep moving forward and devote ourselves to the blossoming of Global Young Leaders Network in general and Global Young Leaders Network Hanoi in particular.

We really look forward to the second workshop on well-being and mental health, which will take place in late November or early December 2021.

— Reported by GYLN Hanoi Chapter members

Sunwah-GYLN MSU Students Complete Local Park Renovation

The Global Young Leaders Network (GYLN) at MSU kicked off the school year with an initiative to renovate a local park and teach children about leadership and community service. GYLN students dedicated significant service hours through the spring and summer toward planning the project, funded by the Sunwah Foundation.

On August 21, GYLN invited members of the community to a three-hour event at Risdale Park to present their renovations to the community. Risdale Park was selected after consultation with the Lansing Refugee Development Center (RDC), in large part because of its proximity to a large population of refugee families that settled in the area. “We chose to do a local project centered on soccer because it is an international sport played all around the world, and we wanted something to bring people together no matter where they come from,” said Peyton Naragon, student president of GYLN MSU chapter. The scope of activities quickly expanded beyond soccer to include basketball, jump rope, and other activities. Peyton also noted, “in a community, it’s important to have spaces where people can gather and interact. How are you supposed to feel at home in your community, not to mention improve it, if you don’t know it?”

Starting in the February, students collectively contributed approximately 130 hours to plan the event and coordinate logistics, which included weekly student-led sessions and meetings with the RDC, officials from the City of Lansing, and MSU advisors. They also volunteered more than 30 hours at the park to repaint lines on two basketball courts and a soccer field, hang new nets on the hoops and goal posts, and pack gift bags, among other tasks. Srijith Venkateshwaran and Isaiah Daik, both members of the chapter’s executive board, also spent time in the community to get to know residents and spread the word. “We took 50-75 flyers to the neighborhood to hang up and pass out to people. It was fun to see people approach us to talk and learn what we were planning.” Venkateshwaran added, “kids were asking us if they could have a flyer to take back to their apartment and share with their families. We were able to talk to some of their parents while we were there, which was great.” 

Many children from the neighborhood responded to the campaign and came by to enjoy basketball and soccer games at the renovated park. GYLN Vice President, Tomas Keck, took the opportunity to talk to the kids about taking leadership in their community. “One of the best ways to help kids learn leadership is to show them real-life opportunities and examples. We put the idea into practice by working together to clean the park. I started a timer to make it fun, and within minutes, the park went from looking bad to being clean. We talked about how, even though they weren’t personally responsible for the trash, they can take initiative to help their community.” Keck also shared some of his background having grown up in Lansing and attending the same schools that these young people currently attend. He hoped to inspire them and let them know that with commitment and leadership qualities, they can accomplish anything they set out to do. When asked who wanted to be a leader, every hand in the crowd shot up!

One of the best ways to help kids learn leadership is to show them real-life opportunities and examples

After three hours of outdoor activities and the leadership talk, all attendees received a meal and gift bag that included school supplies, snacks, and some fun items such as jump ropes. Everyone also entered into a raffle, and some kids took home prizes such as sports equipment and school supplies. A few lucky winners had earned extra raffle tickets for displaying leadership qualities during the event! 

Even as the event started to wrap up, some unexpected benefits continued to roll in. Naragon noted, “One cool outcome was meeting a group at the park called ‘Love the City’. They are similarly community focused and host block parties around Lansing to help neighborhoods unite. They noticed the work we were doing, and we talked with them and exchanged information to discuss joining efforts on projects in the future.”  

While the students are looking forward to continuing work in the local community, they also hope this project will be a springboard into even larger projects that can expand to international contexts. With support from the Sunwah Foundation and their network of GYLN chapters across the globe, the MSU chapter is aiming high to make a positive impact in Lansing and well beyond. 

— Reported by GYLN MSU Chapter members

Final Pitching Session of the “50 Student Environmental Ambassadors in Vietnam 2020”

In November 2020, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Sunwah Group in Vietnam, Sunwah Foundation has cooperated with Vietnam National University, Hanoi to launch the “50 Young Environmental Ambassadors in Vietnam in 2020” in Hanoi, with the participation of 50 students from various universities across Vietnam. After a five-day training course conducted by environmental experts in Vietnam and overseas, these students returned to their university and community to prepare and implement various environmental projects.

On 17 April 2021, the Final Pitching Session of the “50 Student Environmental Ambassadors in Vietnam 2020” project was successfully held virtually, with the participation of the students and the board of judges, including Ms Betty Chan – Executive Director of Sunwah Foundation, Ms Do Van Nguyet – Director of Live&Learn Vietnam, and Dr Truong Ngoc Kiem – Vietnam National University Hanoi (VNUHN) Youth Union’s Secretary. Fifty Student Ambassadors have implemented their projects, funded by Sunwah Foundation, over three months from December 2020 to March 2021. The projects covered a wide range of fields including environmental workshops, social media campaigns, educational activities, business and scientific research to raise awareness in the public as well as find new solutions regarding environmental protection.

Students and board of judges at the Final Pitching Session

The board of judges was impressed by the excellence in launching the projects. Many of them have created impactful events with exceptional growth in social media and public engagement. The Student Environmental Ambassadors also proved the effects of their projects through successfully fundraising and attracting attention and support from local government and other environmental NGOs in Vietnam.

Use-less Plastic Project by USSH HCM students
Citizen Science New Digest (CSND) project by Can Tho University students
Report from FIREFLY Project by University of Education (VNUHN) students

All of the presented projects are set to be continued and scaled up in the coming time, even after the “50 Student Environmental Ambassadors in Vietnam 2020” project is completed. Sunwah Foundation will continue to support and act as a bridge to connect these meaningful projects with related partners, institutions of the Sunwah Foundation network, not only in Vietnam but worldwide.

TAGE Project by Green Impact Vietnam (University of Economics, VNUHN)
Biophilia Project by USSH HCM students
GASED project by Hanoi University of Science (VNU) students

At the end of the Final Pitching Session, the board of judges announced the team of Sunwah Global Young Leaders Network (GYLN), Ho Chi Minh City Chapter with their project namely I CAN as the Winner of the “50 Student Environmental Ambassadors in Vietnam 2020” Project Competition. The “I CAN” project is a biodiversity education project, which aims to raise awareness of students about biodiversity and ecosystem conservation in Kon Plông – Kontum (central highland of Vietnam), encouraging school administration to apply biodiversity learning activity into the education program for all applied secondary school in Kon Plông through the instructional guideline developed by the project team and experts.

I CAN project by Sunwah GYLN HCMC Chapter

Besides, 4 other projects were given the Outstanding Project Awards including “Green Closet” by Sunwah GYLN Hanoi Chapter members; “Use-less Plastic” by University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City students; “Purple Petal” by Hue University students, and “GASED” by University of Sciences, Vietnam National University Hanoi students (a new initiative of converting agriculture residues to sustainable energy). All of the 5 above-mentioned projects will continue to receive special support from Sunwah Foundation and Sunwah’s worldwide network of partners. The Winning team also received sponsorship for a training and exchange program at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Purple Petal Project by Hue University students
Green Closet Project by Sunwah GYLN Hanoi Chapter

The Final Pitching Session concluded the “50 Student Environmental Ambassadors in Vietnam 2020” started in November 2020. The project received numerous positive feedbacks and thank-you notes from all stakeholders, achieving its mission of connecting like-minded young people and encouraging them to inspire other people to protect our environment together.

[Sunwah GYLN PLLC Canada] Spotlight on Local Business: Adaptive Leadership in Practice

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.

“My parents always relied on word of mouth and would not give delivery services a second thought. But to survive, they’ve adopted many different services.”

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.

“We drove everyday around the city delivering our products to our customers for free.”

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.

“We had to redesign how to share the workload to continue production.”

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.

“As COVID cases rise up, our sales go down. It’s costly; we are not eligible for government support as we have only been open for less than a year. We have to rely on ourselves and our community to survive.”

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.

“More Than a Fad is more than sorting clothes or pricing items, it’s about becoming a part of a community that works selflessly and gives generously.”

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.

— Reported by GYLN PLLC Chapter members

[Sunwah GYLN PLLC Canada] Following in the Footsteps of Nonprofit Community Leaders

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.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on youth mental health, making advocacy more important than ever. In these times of social isolation, I’ve found so much joy in connecting virtually with peers who share my passion for mental health and contributing to our common goals.”– Isabella Rees, CASA Youth Council Member

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.

— Reported by GYLN PLLC Chapters members

Activities of the Sunwah GYLN Ho Chi Minh City Chapter in 2020

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
First briefing meeting for new members

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.

GYLN HCMC Chapter Environmental Ambassadors presented their “I CAN (INH HOMO)” project at the end of the training course in Hanoi

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.

Post-program sharing session on the Environmental Ambassadors Project
In late November, with the support of Sunwah Foundation, GYLN HCMC Environmental Ambassadors team paid a visit to Kon Plong to discover its problems by meeting with the district Party Committee Secretary, local tour guide, people, and students. They are now making the “I CAN (INH HOMO)” project’s detailed plan to join hands in the protection of endangered species in this area.

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.

Panelists from Vietnamese corporates, startups, and Hong Kong Science and Technology Park joined the discussion on “Promoting successful corporate-startup collaboration” both physically and virtually

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.

Speakers and participants joined the Edutech workshop at Sunwah Innovation Center Ho Chi Minh City
Workshop’s participants visited the Edutech startups showcase at the Event Hall of Sunwah Innovation Center

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.

GYLN HCMC Chapter members at the training session

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.

Introduction about Sunwah Group, Sunwah Foundation and Sunwah GYLN

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.

From right to left: Mr Vincent Nguyen, Ms Nguyen Duc Nhu Thuy, Dr Nguyen Tran Phi Yen shared their inspiring stories with GYLN HCMC Chapter members
Networking Dinner of Sunwah Global Young Leaders Network Ho Chi Minh City Chapter