Talk with anh Hoàng, co-founder of the Orchid Scholarship Foundation

Trò chuyện với anh Hoàng, đồng sáng lập Quỹ học bổng Hoa Phong Lan

Tiếng Việt, đọc tại đây.

In my previous blog post, I’ve shared with you that my next step would be focusing on these 4 major topics:

During my research, I stumbled upon the Orchid Scholarship Foundation (OSF) whose social programs seemed to be the answers to the matters above. Curiously, I approached Hoang, the organization’s co-founder, for a 30 minute interview to learn more about them.

(Spoiler Alert: An exciting news is waiting for you at the end of this blog! 😉)

(Side notes: In Vietnam, we use “anh” to address men that are older than we are, or as a polite way to manifest respect towards that person. Similarly, people use “em” in Vietnamese to address younger ones.)

Hello anh Hoàng!

Hi em!

Can you tell me more about yourself and the Orchid Scholarship Foundation (OSF)?

I am currently a research fellow in Mathematics and Computer Science at Monash university in Melbourne. I joined OSF since 2013, when anh Hưng — founder of OSF came to Singapore to work. The foundation’s objective is to create a transparent and efficient rapport between individuals living inside and outside of Vietnam, so that they could positively contribute to upgrade the quality of Vietnamese work force.

Why did you decide you co-found OSF? What did you personally aim at?

  • The Orchid Scholarship Foundation was founded in 2010, in Japan; so if you called me “one of those you was there when the foundation ‘moved’ their lair to Singapore”, that’d be much more accurate. However, it’s quite lengthy to speak of in that way, that’s why people keep calling me the co-founding member (much more convenient) :). At that time, I have been abroad for 7 years, and it was a good time to start contributing something to the home nation. Another crucial reason for me joining the foundation in Singapore was that I thought it would be exciting since I am in love with organizing activities; and ’til now I still am extremely excited every time we get together and organize meaningful activities. To me, working with the foundation is much alike to a hobby.

Apart handling scholarships to students in need, I also know that Ripple Social Program is a sponsored social creative project, initiated by the foundation. Could you tell me more about this?

  • In the beginning of 2017, I traveled to Atlanta for a conference and dropped by to meet Hiếu — one of the first three ‘founding members” of the foundation in Singapore, back in the good old days. That was when I coincidentally bumped in to Hiếu’s flatmate — Iju Shakya, also a charitable enthusiast. Strikingly, Iju founded “The Investing in People Education Support Fund” — sponsored Nepal 10th graders, carrying out small-scale projects that aim at solving the existing communal problems where they live (this project later received the Humanitarian Award from Emory Univeristy.) That was an “Aha moment”💡 — we immediately realized that it was such a brilliant idea, precisely suitable the OSF: a second path to support young people in Vietnam, not just giving out scholarship but helping young people carry out charitable projects. This could also encourage Vietnam young people to utilize their youth and creativity, solving existing communal problems as well as bring happiness to those who are much less lucky.
Last year's winning team — The Elephant Book Group, in an extracurricular activities with children at Vĩnh Sơn I social service centre in Kontum province.
  • That was my detailed answer (chuckle), to be brief, this is a program which sponsor charitable groups in Vietnam carrying out their proposed project — the ones that support the community. The groups would carry out the project on their own, the foundation would consult and support in term of finance, communication, experience in doing these kinds of work, as well as connect them to potential sponsors.

Last year was the program’s first working year. Could you share with us the excellent groups and the social impacts which they have successfully created?

  • Although it was the first year that we organized this program, we received quite many meaningful and practical proposals; those were giving gifts, organizing games, Mid Autumn festival and Lunar New Year events (team HCMUS, 141s), tutoring and extracurricular activities (team Elephant Book), for the poor children, supporting children living in disastrous areas (team PCom), helping elders who lived by themselves with housework (team Đèn Lồng Đỏ), as well as awareness raising activities for bullying in schools (team Bòn Bon). Other equivalently meaningful projects include: building website that help poor student preparing for university entrance tests, design and produce life-vests, or giving out scholarships and gifts to poor school children in distant areas. However, unfortunately these projects haven’t received the aid from us last year for we were lack of financial and human resources.
Last year's winning team — HCMUS group, visiting and teaching orphans in Hoa Mẫu Đơn shelter to fold animals with paper, in Gò Vấp district, Ho Chi Minh City.

How do you feel about the results of this first working year? Have the foundation come up with new plan for this year?

  • I am happy with the result of 2017. All projects succeeded, though there were many obstacles. My friends from the foundation and I also learnt a lot from organizing this activity and surely that would help what we going to do this year.
  • Another exciting news is that as through the nomination of the program team, one of our largest and longtime supporters agreed to not only sponsor us a huge amount for the aiding program for children living in disastrous areas, but also join one of the student groups in an upcoming charitable trip. Hopefully that we could be part of more emotional cooperation in the upcoming year of the project. The activities would be carried out very soon, so stay tuned!

Last question, why the name Ripple?

This is a program with a spreading nature in creating social impacts, that’s why we decided to name it “Ripple” with the tagline “Ripple is a verb.”

Woah that is such a meaningful name! Thank you anh Hoàng for your time. I learned a lot about the foundation, and I hope everything would go well to empower a young generation, seizing their opportunities to develop themselves and initial more social impacts.

[3 days later]

Anh Hoàng, I have been tinkering on the impact of Ripple and saw an opportunity that could take it further. I started Share A Cause Project as a campaign that explored how to help the student volunteer community, its mission is very aligned with Ripple’s. What do you think about me partnering up with OSF to organize Ripple this year?

  • How would you contribute?

I will develop the program’s scope and agenda, as well as connect with organizations and individuals who are also passionate in supporting this community, whom I got chances to interview lately. During the review phase, I’d organize some workshops utilizing my expertise (Human-Centered Design and Design Thinking) to help the shortlisted groups solidify their social ideas, refine their execution plan, and come up with effective success metrics. I will also be sharing my findings and experience from running the program and coaching the groups.

  • That would be very great em!

It's a deal then! ✌🏼

This is Share A Cause Project blog series. Share A Cause Project is a social campaign that explores what could give the student volunteer community in Vietnam opportunities to grow, innovate, pursue their ideas for good cause and create more impactful outcomes.

How you can be part of this exciting campaign

Since this campaign aims to build awareness and inspire actions, I invite you to share it to your communities and those interested in this matter ;) You can also follow my Instagram account @angie_ngoctran or hashtag #ShareACause🇻🇳 for more field notes.

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Product Designers by day, Zen practitioner all the time 🧘🏻‍♀️ One mindful moment at a time