[Sunwah GYLN Vietnam] 50 Student Environmental Ambassadors in Vietnam 2020

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.

Mr Jesse Choi, CEO of Sunwah Innovations and Director of Sunwah Vietnam, 50 Student Environmental Ambassadors, Guests of Honors, teachers and 50 Student Ambassadors attending the Opening Ceremony

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.

Pictures of speakers from USA, Canada, Japan, and Hong Kong

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 lectures.

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 participants in Prof Jones lecture

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.

Dr Truong Ngoc Kiem delivering a lecture about biodiversity in Vietnam

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.

Students pay attention to Dr Rebecca’s sharing

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, Senior Researcher,

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.

Prof Dang Thi Cam Ha delivering a lecture about “Bio-based Economy (Bioeconomy) and the difference from the term of Biotechnology”.
Prof Dang Thi Cam Ha and 50 student environmental ambassadors

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.

GYLN HCMC members was taking notes from the lecture of Prof. Berghorn

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.

Dr Truong Ngoc Kiem and participants

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.

Ms Do Van Nguyet and the winners of the activities were sharing about their experience with environmental conservation.

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!

Project Idea Presentation Day

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.

Participants from different groups discussed a topic

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 and meaningful.

Informal networking night

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.

50 students were awarded Environmental Ambassador Medals

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

The establishment of Sunwah GYLN – Michigan State University Chapter

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 first meeting of the MSU USA Chapter

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.

[Sunwah GYLN Hanoi] “Sunwah in my heart’’ Internal Training and Contest to celebrate the 5th Anniversary

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. 

Communication Training 

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 best performer in Internal Contest – Ms. Truc

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.

Video link: https://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNDUxNjQ3MzY0OA==.html

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. 

Leader of the Year –  Ms. Dong
Sunwah-GYLN, Hanoi Chapter 50th Anniversary party

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.

Sunwah-GYLN Hanoi Chapter

[Sunwah GYLN Hanoi Chapter] Warm Tet 2020 for children

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.

Among books for donation

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. 

Our members packing donated biscuits on the bus

Evening show

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.

The performance by one of Sunwah-GYLN members with big applaud

We also organized some games with a lot of small gifts, which undoubtedly sparked their 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. 

Morning activities

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.

Students growing flowers with the help of teachers and Sunwah-GYLN members

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 first trial at the football field

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.

How passionate they are in drawing!

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.

MCs and representatives of each class talking about their calendars.

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.

Students totally absorbed in the bag jumping game.
Representatives of three winning teams received the gifts

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!

5 students received scholarships from Sunwah Group

What’s behind?

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.

It’s time to say goodbye

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!

Group-picture of Sunwah-GYLN members and volunteers

Sunwah-GYLN Hanoi Chapter

[Sunwah GYLN Vietnam] Sunwah GYLN International Summit 2019 in Macau

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.

Our first dinner – the Macau journey began

“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.

Various speeches on education and innovation

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.

Dr Cristina Stasia, Director of Instruction of Peter Lougheed Leadership College, University of Alberta, Canada gave a speech about adaptive leadership – an emerging area of leadership studies

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.

Photo exhibition: “The Hidden Beauty of Macau”

Cultural Show

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.

China’s Dun Huang Dance

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.

‘Rice Drum’ from Vietnam Chapter (It took us about two hours to practice, which was so funny and brought us closer after then)
Vietnam Chapter with Dr. Jonathan Choi
Sunwah-GYLN members with  Dr. Jonathan Choi and other performers

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.

China’s Dun Huang Dance by Beijing Dance Academy students
Workshop of the dance groups
We had chance to learn more about other cultures through the workshop

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.

Panha from Cambodia Chapter listened to her friend’s sharing
Very hard-working students
Friendship crosses all borders
Be a leader of your life
Everyone drew their own picture about the journey in Macau

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.

University of Macau
Macau by sunset

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.

Sunwah GYLN Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh Chapter

[Sunwah GYLN Canada PLLC] From MACAU to the WORLD

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.

After 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 together!

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!

Then 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.

Finally, 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.

Then, 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 video

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!

Sunwah – GYLN Canada PLLC Chapter

[Sunwah GYLN Canada] Our Continent from North to South 2019

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 schools.


Some of the donations collected

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.


Setting up the laptops for the Class

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 classroom.


Painting the Mural with the students

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.


 Saying goodbye to the students on the road

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 more.

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.


Loading the School Supplies to the ATV

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.


Meeting the “King” and “Queen” of the Spring Festival

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. 


We organized the books, school supplies and laptops.

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.


We also visited the Primaria campus and we carried the books and school supplies over to the school.

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.


The space where the teachers washes the dishes and their clothes

We checked the washrooms and set up the soap dispensers.

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 high.

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 school. 


Discussing the Need of Fences/Ledges

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.


  Visiting the Children in physical therapy sessions

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 students.

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 more.

Sunwah GYLN International Summit 2018 in Canada

In the middle of August 2018, two members of GYLN HCMC Chapter, Yen – Vice Chairwoman of HCMC Chapter – and I had an interesting trip to Canada to participate in the “Canada International GYLN Summit 2018” organized by Sunwah Foundation.

The preparatory work had started several months before the Summit and I learned a lot from the way Sunwah Foundation organized the summit. Experiencing and working towards the summit made me eager to share my experiences with the HCMC Chapter and all my friends.

We were thoroughly informed about the other members, any changes or updates in the itinerary, and what should be prepared before the trip

This trip provided us with an opportunity to experience the international environment and expand our network with all GYLN chapters from Hong Kong, Macau, China, Japan, UK and Canada.

Moreover, we also had a great chance to understand various cultures, to see the Canadian perspective regarding diversity and to listen to the world’s leading entrepreneurs, academics and economists discussing a new global and regional business model.

Sunwah GYLN members and members of Peter Lougheed Leadership College of the University of Alberta had a good time exploring Edmonton

On August 19th, all GYLN members arrived in Edmonton. We started the first workday by presenting the annual GYLN Chapter’s report and sharing innovative ideas on tourism in our own country’s popular travel destinations. Ms Betty Chan, Executive Director of Sunwah Foundation, opened the first day with an inspiring message: “If you can’t do it, practice until you can do it. If you can do it, then practice until you can do it perfectly. If you can do it perfectly, then practice until you can do it perfectly every time” (Yuzuru Hanyu, two-time Olympic champion in Figure Skating). I just keep thinking about that quote and the way Ms Betty used it in order to encourage us to spend more efforts on our work.

Afterwards, we gradually listened to interesting and innovation ideas on developing tourism from different chapters. There were some chapters which used a mobile application to introduce and enhance the tourism experience. Personally, I was most impressed by the Japanese Chapter’s idea. They used an Anime Character as a cultural symbol to attract people’s attention and create a chance to introduce Japan. The idea is simple but practical!

Hong Kong Chapter and Japan Chapter presented their Innovative Ideas on Tourism projects

HCMC Chapter presented their idea about Son Doong – the largest natural cave in the world and the idea how we could improve tourism in the whole Caves-eco system (Quang Binh province), not just focus on the largest cave.

Yen (above) introduced interesting activities and training model of the GYLN HCMC Chapter through last year and Tuan (bottom) presented the Son Doong tourism project

In the afternoon there was time for cultural exchange activities. We visited to the Art Gallery of Alberta. They were exhibiting the oil paintings of a Canadian artist named James Wilson Morrice, from the 19th century along with several artworks from the local people.

On August 20th, all GYLN members joined in the Opening Ceremony of the Jonathan KS Choi Cultural Centre of Canada at Telus Centre. It was one of the most important events of our trip, marking the cooperation between Sunwah Group and the University of Alberta. More than 200 seats in the conference room were filled up during the Forum: “New Models for Building Global and Regional Business”.

Dr Choi delivered his keynote speech at the International Forum “New Models for Building Global and Regional Business – China & Beyond”

In this session, Dr Jonathan Choi, Chairman of Sunwah Group and Sunwah Foundation, mentioned of building a wall or roads in human history which aimed to mention about the consequence of the trade war that resulted from the United States versus global cooperation in general and cooperation between China and Canada in particular. In the end, there was a signing ceremony held for the collaboration between Sunwah Foundation and Peter Lougheed Leadership College for the College to be the Consultant Partner of GYLN.

University of Alberta President David H. Turpin, Chinese Consul General of Calgary Lu Xu and Dr Choi at the Opening Ceremony of the Jonathan KS Choi Cultural Centre of Canada

After the Opening Ceremony of the Jonathan KS Choi Cultural Centre of Canada, GYLN members and the visitors had some free time to explore the building as well as the Art Exhibition “Mountains and Water: Visions of the Land in Canada and China”. GYLN and the members of PLLC also had a chance to interact with Dr. Choi about leadership and the vision on developing a Canada Chapter. He emphasized that mutual understanding is the key to success in international exchange and collaboration in the global context.

Dr. Jonathan Choi talking to the GYLN members after the Opening Ceremony

The GYLN member from Hanoi Chapter listening to the story of Chinese painting

In the afternoon, we took part in the first part of a 3-day leadership training course organized by Peter Lougheed Leadership College (PLLC), an open discussion was held with all members about the topic of the International Forum in the morning.

GLYN members had a great time joining the Leadership training course by the PLLC

On August 21st, the second day of the training course came with a question of: “What is leadership?” and “what are characteristics of leadership?” For the answer of both questions, Dr Cristina Stasia, Director of Instruction, Peter Lougheed Leadership College used some photos for illustration. For me, the photo of Princess Diana shaking the hands of an AIDS patient said a lot of things. At that time, people had strong biases with that disease and when Diana shook the hand of an identified AIDS patient, she used her public platform to challenge that irrational fear. I learnt that a typical leader should be the pioneer to change the mindset of others, as well as to create a bridge to connect disadvantaged people to the community.

What I liked most during the afternoon class was a simulator discussion for hosting the Winter Olympics. We had to play a role as a national representative, and joined the negotiation table for hosting the Winter Olympic. Each person had a different purpose and had to argue for their own benefits. I strongly admired Tanisha, one of the PLLC students when she used her knowledge about Calgary to persuade the committee to vote for her country. To sum up, I think that leadership in the globalization era requires not only solid knowledge but also soft skills for penetrating cross-cultures, thereby creating understanding, sympathy and advantages in working with international partners.

Many interesting activities gave us a lot of chances to share ideas, emotions, perspectives and to know each other

On August 22nd, at the last class in PPLC training course, we studied how to find ideas for social projects and to run them effectively through 2 sample projects. One of them was a project aimed at funding leftover food from grocery stores to poor people run by UoA students. They developed a mobile application to help people to find food-donation stores easily. With that solution, the students could scale up their project faster and helped more people; it also made a positive impact on local people about the food waste issue. I realized that applying technology to social projects would raise the effectiveness of the operation and save a lot of time.

Afterwards, GYLN members were divided into 7 teams to plan a social project, which was then presented within 2 mins. Within the limited time, each team had tried to keep their ideas brief and express them clearly and understandably. Teachers would give feedbacks later and all members asked critical questions about those projects. It is a really good way to practice your presenting skills under high pressure. I also suppose that handling critical questions could point out drawbacks of the project and help to improve and complete it.

The course was completed when awards were given to the top 3 members with outstanding leadership qualities who were Tomohiro, Sharon and Liam. Later, Jocelyn was proposed by members to get the fourth award. In the afternoon, GYLN members experienced a local festival in downtown Edmonton and enjoyed a stand-up comedy show.

After 3 busy days training and studying in Edmonton, all GYLN members departed to Banff to observe the way Canadian people operate their tourism business and had some time to relax. The natural mountain atmosphere plus the stunning views there boosted us and gave us a shot of energy. Conquering the Tunnel mountain, going to restaurants with local cuisine and treating the body to the hot springs were such unique experience.

All members enjoyed the hiking very much

The next day, we visited Lake Louise, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This beautiful lake is surrounded by soaring mountain peaks which create majestic scenes similar to what you see in movies. I took a short adventure to the end of the lake, closed my eyes for a few minutes to immerse myself in nature. I felt that the country is peaceful and lovely.

All members of GYLN Vietnam Chapter (Hanoi and HCMC) and the international GYLN members at Lake Louise. The amazing beautiful landscape already took our breath away.

Time flew so fast and we had to say goodbye to each other. Many thanks to Sunwah Foundation for organizing and providing support during this trip. Thanks to the PLLC teachers for teaching us a lot of interesting lessons and thank all the GYLN members. I’ve learnt many amazing things from you all. See you again soon!

 

By Tuan Nguyen, Sunwah GYLN Ho Chi Minh City Chapter

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Letter from Alberta, Canada

Best place to find leadership and friendship

Following the last International Summit in Fukuoka 2016, GYLN members from all over the world gathered again in Alberta, Canada, from 18th to 25th of August.

There are 2 parts of learnings in this program.

1. Innovative Ideas on Tourism

Each chapter has brought an innovative idea about tourism (HK, Macau, China, UK, Canada, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Japan). Here are some examples from the presentation.

Cave Tour in Vietnam

The world’s biggest cave is located in the central part of Vietnam. That area with many caves was created 250 million years ago, and since then it has witnessed the long history of Vietnam.

In the ancient times, it was used as a holy place of Buddhism, but in 1960s, used as a military hospital in the Vietnam war. Now, the area is a symbol of peace and development.

Although that area was used by humans for centuries, the world’s largest cave was discovered by the locals in 1991. If you open the Lonely Planet of Vietnam, it should be found in the front page with beautiful pictures.

However, if you want to go inside that cave, you need to wait till 2020, and pay around $3000 for 5 days. Why so popular ? Why so limited ? Those questions are quite natural to be asked.

Our Vietnam chapter tried to answer that in the presentation.

Local Characters in Japan

Thinking of tourism, it is very easy to imagine great sceneries, mamusement parks or historical places. So what if your hometown needs tourists, with no such resources?

Japan chapter proved that those resources are not always necessary, using the example of tourism using local characters. 47 prefectures in Japan have their own unique characters. Also, some cities or even towns have their own.

Some of the characters are so famous that tourists are coming in order to take picture of the characters or buy some goods of them.

The popularity of local characters has come from a city. Japan chapter explained why a character of that city became famous from the interview with the city government.

One of the reasons is that characters are loved by every generation. Tourism is not only business, but also entertainment. If you think of tourism ideas, you should care about people.

The other reason is that cities and towns have cooperated together to attract more people to the character of each other. Sometimes they hold festivals to make local characters known to public.

We have found that touching people’s hearts is important for tourism.

2. Leadership

We have learned about leadership in the program. There are many styles of leadership, but they can be divided into 2.

The first one is leadership with authority. It is quite easy to think what leaders with authority are like. They have social status, or economic power to lead other people. In this case, you have to be elected or promoted inside communities.

The second one is leadership without authority. This kind of leadership is open to everyone. You do not need to wait to be elected or promoted. You have a chance to be a leader in everyday life.

However, it is not very easy to be a leader. Sometimes you need more courage to act like that. In our surroundings, there are many social problems which a lot of people are missing and which are waiting to be found.

Once you recognize the problem, knowing and acting are different. You may become nervous considering whether you should stick to it. Ignoring what you saw and just walking away look very comfortable. With your full courage, you can go one step forward to solve the problem.

In this situation, the existence of second leader is very important. If the second leader appears and he or she help you to act on it, then your activity can become a social movement and will attract more people.

We learned about leadership and followership through a lot of activities. Lastly, each chapters has come up with ideas and plans for the social service back in our hometowns.

Sunwah GYLN members’ visit to Banff National Park, Alberta

Overall, Canada is the best place to learn friendship also. Friendship is the foundation to be a leader or a follower. Classes in the daytime and communication with a glass of drinks in the nighttime were strongly connected inside our mind to become an international leader.

Thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity. See you soon somewhere on earth.

 

By Tomohiro Matsushima, GYLN Japan Chapter

[Sunwah GYLN Canada] Our Continent from North to South

From March 21st to 27th 2018, our Canada Chapter has collaborated with the Boca de Tomatlan School in Mexico to provide a healthy learning environment for the underprivileged students. We have transformed an unused storage facility into a library by renovating the entire room with new painted walls, desks and bookshelves, and brought over 200 interactive books, feature-rich laptops, and abundant school supplies.

Our chapter had been brainstorming ideas on how we could support underprivileged children and communities. In November 2017, we made some connections with the founder of a well-established Canadian non-profit organization for children and youth around the world, named Isa Mundo (http://isamundo.org/). This organization has been supporting schools and communities in developing countries for more than 10 years and partnering with Canadian scouts group, Engineers Without Borders, Rotary International, etc. We – members of the GYLN Canada Chapter – were very much interested in assisting some of its projects in Mexico supporting schools in teaching, reconstruction, cultural sharing event. After discussions and with Sunwah Foundation’s sponsorship, this would be a great opportunity for us to extend the scope of helping local communities in Mexico, where resources were relatively less abundant than in Canada.

We were very glad that the Founder of Isa Mundo, Mr Paul Lorilla was willing to guide us. His experience in working with school education projects and communicating with local people has provided us a lot of learning opportunities. He suggested that the Boca de Tomatlan school in Puerto Vallarta – the only school in that area – needed a lot of resources and reconstruction for the establishment of a library. This was for the children to enhance their English literacy and explore the world through books. Thus, we decided to take this project and focus on interacting with the students so as to set up a library for the Boca school. We named it “Our Continent from North to South”, with a slogan of “Lending a hand, one step at a time” aiming at uniting people around us and helping the communities. The project has been carried out from March 21st to 27th, 2018.

The initial preparation of this project was not easy. We had quite a few meetings and email discussions with Paul and Cynthia for 2 months for planning the materials we needed for the library, as well as calculating the budget and organizing our accommodation and transportation. We also went around Vancouver City to gather children’s English books and school supplies together with refurbished laptops from Isa Mundo for the school.

Books and school supplies gathered by GYLN Canada Chapter for the Boca de Tomatlan School

When we checked-in at the airport, we had four large luggage pieces full of donated materials which exceeded the weight limit allowed. So we had to take out some of the books. In the end, we managed to bring more than 200 books and hundreds of school supplies.

Flashcards we made for teaching English vocabularies for the Boca de Tomatlan School’s children

Upon arriving at the school, we first went to see the room planned to be the library. Many essential items of a library such as adequate number of tables, bookshelves, books, fans, etc. were missing. Some of the chairs were also broken and woodchips were sticking out that could potentially hurt the passers-by. We also noticed that the lights were cracked, and the windows were not secured. The door was unable to close as it was not properly built. As we planned to bring laptops into this environment, one of our first tasks was to ensure that this room could be secured.

The room at the Boca de Tomatlan School planned to be the library

There would be a lot of work to renovate this area but we believed that this time we could at least achieve part of it.

Then we started moving the materials we purchased, and built the security cabinet for the laptops. It took quite a long time to do it.

GYLN Canada Chapter members built the security cabinet for the library

One book shelf was prepared and we put the books we brought on.

Then, we installed the tables we bought, the laptops we prepared and the chairs for the children in the library.

Sunwah GYLN Canada Chapter members were setting up tables, chairs and laptops for the library

We were very glad to have chances to interact with the children and it was a heart-warming experience. We visited the elementary students first, introducing ourselves and showing them pictures of us in Canada – where we were from. The children were excited and listened attentively to our stories.

Interaction session between Sunwah GYLN Canada Chapter members with the school’s children

Most of the children could communicate in English with limited vocabulary. We then separated them into groups for playing interactive games and teaching them some English words. We also got to know some of them at a closer level.

Additionally, we met the secondary school students who just learnt the concept of time in English and we played the game “What time is it, Mr Wolf?” to reinforce the words.

We made hand-prints on the banner

After arranging most of the books and laptops in the library, the children were very excited. They came in to read the books and try to use the computers.

After the work in Boca, we also visited Casa Connor (Pasitos de Luz, http://www.pasitosdeluz.org/) – a non-profit child-care center for disabled children from low-income families in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The children often suffered from acute physical and psychological illnesses and many were unable to access to the mainstream education system. The conditions of some children were quite severe that they could not move or eat by themselves. However, they were happy to see visitors and liked to take pictures. We talked to them and helped feeding them at lunch.

Sunwah GYLN Canada Chapter visited the children at the Casa Connor child-care center

The staff there also gave us a tour around the center and discussed what needs to be improved.

On behalf of GYLN Canada Chapter, we also made donations to Dasitos de Luz Child Sponsorship Fund for the children’s food and clothes.

All project participants together with the center’s staff and children

After this trip, we realized that our assistance could make a big difference to the schools and local communities. However, that was not enough. The library still needs more books and laptops as the school has about 100 children who would like to use the resources. We visited only one class and the laptops were not enough for the children. The library now contains valuable laptops and needs to be secured. Cynthia has been a volunteer for the school and she wishes that the school would be able to hire a part-time Spanish teacher to lead and manage the school program on their own. There is many more works that can be done to provide support for  the children so that they can continue with their educational goals.

Under Sunwah Foundation’s sponsorship, this was our first project in Mexico and we would like to thank Isa Mundo for the collaboration and guidance on this. The partnership went very well and we believe that we can continue to work together in the future to serve the communities better.

Kelvin Au (Canada Chapter)

[Sunwah GYLN HCMC] Dream Garden Project _ Phase 1

Description: The Dream Garden Project is the winner of last year’s internal project debate contest to become the main-SCA project of the HCMC chapter in 2017. The project aims at nurturing children’s mindset of loving and protecting the natural environment, at the same time, educating them about the ecosystem, biological system and gaining knowledge through hands-on experiencing sessions of tree planting and natural science experiments in the garden. Children also learn how to grow vegetables and later use them to improve their healthy diet.

Duration: The project has been implemented in 2.5 months (10 weeks), from late July 2017 to Mid-October 2017

Location:  Vinh Son Child Center, Binh Thanh District, HCMC, Vietnam

Target group: 35 children from 8 to 12 year old

Activities

Week 1:

– Every child chose a nickname and participated in activities.

– Show kids how to use terrestrial globe. Learning about solar system forming

– Kids play game “carnivore and herbivore”
Week 2-3:

– Learn about the food chain

– Get to know all kinds of climate and related habitats

– Learn about water cycle and energy

Week 4-5:

Decorate bottles for planting

– Learning how to grow plants

Week 6-7:

– Kids divided into 3 groups to plant seeds and put the soil into the designed bottles and wheels.

– Dye the flower to know how the root and the trunk for a tree, stem for flowers work.

Week 8-9:

– Do gardening together

– Clean the rooms and school yard

Week 10:

– Visit Vegi – an organic farm

– Play at Kiz citi – give gifts and notebooks with all wishes to the children.

Inspired by an idea of helping children learn about nature, “Dream Garden” project was planned and implemented by the GYLN HCMC Chapter. This social project aims at bringing opportunities for disadvantaged children to learn more about the ecosystem, environment and planting technique.

During the project, many challenges arose. The first challenge was that most orphanages in Ho Chi Minh City lack needed space for running the program, including teaching and practicing space. We had to spend more than 3 weeks on looking for the most suitable place. The chosen place was Vinh Son Orphanage located in the city suburbs. That is the charity school providing free education for more than 100 children aged from 7 to 12 who have not had opportunities to go to public school.

On the first day of the project, despite careful preparation, we had to confront some difficulties. We found it hard to deal with hyperactivity and the lack of general knowledge in most of those children. At that time, patience was the key we had to have. In the first two weeks, we tried to teach them some basic knowledge about biology combined with interesting learning activities in order to make the lessons easily understood. Our little students started to show more curiosity after each lesson, many questions were raised concentrating on knowledge such as the growth of the plants, food chains in nature, the energy cycle and so on. We also motivated them to engage in lessons by giving little gifts for hardworking individuals and preparing lunch for them every week.

With the vision to raise their awareness about the environment, we used recyclable and eco-friendly materials during the project. In practice time, children were encouraged to design their own pots from recyclable bottles. They showed their enthusiasm and great creativity when practicing. We divided the garden into two parts. One part was cultivated for vegetables planting. The other was used to plant bonsai trees. The previous abandoned land now became a colorful and lush garden built with love, dreams and hope of all participants.

The last lesson was not held at school as usual. We took the children to an organic farm in Tan Binh District to provide them with an opportunity to learn outdoors and engage with nature. They were instructed to distinguish various kinds of vegetables, seeding, using organic fertilizers, watching nursery garden, observing sprinkler system. In the afternoon, we went to Kiz Citi – an entertainment center associated with vocational education for youngsters. They enjoyed the games available in the center. Then, the project team summarized the whole program, complemented those who had good improvement, gave presents and took a lot of photos.

The project was implemented in two months, including 16 lessons relating to the ecosystem, environment and planting techniques and 8 planting activities. The garden was created with 6 various kinds of vegetables and 12 kinds of bonsai. During the project, we received many positive feedback from the headmaster and children at the orphanage as well as the teaching staff. Especially, there is one autistic child who participated in our project. His parents shared that they took their child to many hospitals and disabled centers in town, but his condition did not improve. After participating in the Dream Garden project, he showed signs of being open with his family members and being more sociable and friendly to make friends.

We will attach the importance of improving so that our lessons will provoke the curiosity of children more and more. In the next stage, the target is to bring this project to more 250 kids in HCMC. Moreover, we hope that our dedication will contribute a better future to a young generation.

Photos

Teaching

Painting bottles

Gardening

Field trip

Anh Tuan [HCMC Chapter]