Wandering thoughts on Viet communities
Some random half-asleep thoughts I have been brewing up in the past couple of weeks
Part I. The Understudy, Southbank, 21 June 2017
I started brewing some ideas for this Medium article two weeks ago when VietStartup London organised a meetup with Hao Tran from Vietcetera at The Understudy, Southbank. Over some lovely drinks (of course), we talked about how important and powerful the Viet communities all over the world are, and how we — the young and new generation, should harness that power. We talked about a load of our own ongoing projects and how we could join force with Vietcetera, but I think the most important subject of discussion on the day to me was “being Vietnamese”.
Halfway into the talks, I looked back on to our line-up for the event. I was sitting amongst other VietStartup folks: Minh who is French, Ane who is Czech, then Tuan Anh came with his friend Fiona and brought their Polish game to the table. We had complete first-timers like Cuong who is British and Katherine who came from Australia. Then there was Hao (who bears the namesake of the event) that came from San Francisco, and Amazin who is also American. Later there was Tai, who lived in Singapore before moving to London), then Linh with Jamie, her husband, and Hai-Anh and Phong (from VietPro) who were born in Vietnam and came to the UK to study and work. As Cuong said during the meetup, each of us would have a different experience of Vietnam because of the way we were raised, but that is a very good thing!
The great advantage of having such a diverse group from so many walks of life is that we all have very different ways of doing things, but also are open to new ideas and people and the community is beautifully tied together by our heritage.
[On the same topic of “being Vietnamese”, I am going to Julia Thanh’s Vietnamese Londoners exhibition on 7th July. See you there!]
Part II. Great Hall, Queen Mary University, 09 April 2017
2 months ago, I was asked to do a photo op at SVUK Gala 2017, a student event in London. I did the main shows with my (now sold 😂) pro Canon gear, but I decided to shoot the entire backstage with 5 rolls of black-and-white film.
After a long delay, I eventually got to finish scanning all of those negatives and, boy, it was not a disappointment. I think they gave a much more truthful account of the event from my perspective than the digital colours of my Canon gear.
The contrast, dedication, emotions and the actions on each shot gave out so much energy. These negatives took me right back to my days of running student events. Back in the day, I would be part of one gig after another at PTCNN, may it be in an organising or supporting role. Even after graduation, I still came back to Vietnam to do CNN Conferences for Global CNNers (and still acting as a project consultant/observer). There is something about student activity that I cannot get enough of, and I actually never stopped to think about it before.
Then I chatted with Minh, aka ‘Madmin’, an old friend now living in the West Coast, who co-founded Global CNNers back in the day with me when it dawned on me that it is our sense of community that always ends up dragging us into these things one way or the other (and also co-organising things with people named “Minh”…) These negatives reminds me so much of “phong trào sinh viên", as it is called in Vietnamese. To many, this looks like a fun Vietnamese variety show, but the students’ spirit behind it is the embodiment of Vietnam right there and then for me.
Ultimately, it reminds me of why we do what we do at VietStartup in the first place, and the much needed inspiration for me to keep going. Many more good things are coming out next from the VietStartup London team. Stay tuned. Or even better, join us!