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Showing Up (VF on panel for Asian American Women Leaders)

Showing Up (VF on panel for Asian American Women Leaders)

On April 30th, 2012, VIET Fellows Vi Nguyen participated in a panel discussion of Asian American Women Leaders to share her experience. She captures her thoughts in the blog journal below. 

As I plopped myself onto the airplane seat and looked out the window of the Boston airport, I thought of Vietnam. I had just finished speaking on a panel of Asian American Women leaders, hosted by the University of Massachusetts, Boston, led by Professor Loan Dao. On the panel with me were inspiring women.

Jessica del Rosario was from the Boston Foundation and the Co-Chair of AAPIP’s Boston Chapter. Diana Hwang was the Executive Director of the Asian-American Women’s Political Initiative, the only political leadership organization for Asian-American women in the U.S. Sophia Kim was the Director of the Youth Center at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood. Monique Nguyen was the Deputy Director of MataHari, an organization that fights for the rights and dignity of domestic workers. Karen Young was the founder of Genki Spark, a performance group that uses Japanese Taiko Drumming to build community. Listening to the collective stories of our journeys as we spoke to the 50 college students in the audience—I realized that leadership takes many forms. Leadership is giving out grants, fighting for political participation, building neighborhoods, defending human rights, strengthening community, and showing up.

As my flight took off, my thoughts flew to– Sang, Lan, Hung, Nhat Anh, and Nguyen—some of the children of the Thi Nghe Orphanage. It has been 22 months since I first set foot there; but their faces are clear and their laughter still reminds me of the wonderfulness of life. To sustain those laughs for these children with disabilities in Vietnam, it will take many forms of leadership: funding to provide for their physical care; art, neighborhoods, and communities to support their struggles for fulfilling lives. And it a world where buzz words like ‘sustainability’ and ‘cost-effectiveness’ often trump actual lives being lived, it will take strong advocates with political clout to convince society that these children are deserving of the best medical operations and the best educational opportunities available. But they deserve the best of the best; just meet them, watch them live their lives, hear them laugh. You’ll see if you pay them a visit. Or two.


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