The girl specializes in “hunting” funding of billionaires

HanoiNguyen Thuy Ngan claims himself fortunate to have persuaded 3 billionaires to help with his social projects since student time.

One day at the beginning of December 2016, a Vietnamese girl quietly took a flight from Saint Paul City (Minnesota) to New York to attend a round of interviews across the United States, contending for a sponsorship from Watson Fellowship. This is a fund founded by the father of IBM Group, billionaire Thomas Watson, each year gives 50 individuals, each of them $ 30,000 to travel around the world, to fulfill their own dreams.

Nguyen Thuy Ngan, 25 years old, manager Asia Pacific region of AngelHack. During her 2 years working here, she has organized over 20 programming hackathons. Image: Phan Duong.

“If you fail now, what will you do?” Asked the interviewer. Nguyen Thuy Ngan honestly: “If I fail, this is still my heart. I will still implement my plan. If you do not go around the world, you will go around Vietnam, or around your home country” .

The day with results, she cried like a child

On August 1, 2017, Ngan pulled a suitcase to the airport and started the journey. Compared to the previous trips, the feeling this time is different. “I’m excited about the new journey but I’m also a bit afraid of the challenges that come, from planning it, accommodation, finding a job … I have to be in control of everything as a captain on a single boat. “The 25-year-old girl recalls.

Before leaving, Ngan outlines 3 principles for the trip: Always agree to all challenges, take care of yourself and “like a sponge” absorb the culture, seize all learning opportunities.

Coming to the UK, she is excited about the model “public fridge” to solve the problem of food waste and homeless food supply or the “home library” model – allowing people in need. You can borrow something for a very cheap fee.

In the African country of Rwanda, Ngan works as an assistant in a university to access their very strong university curriculum on entrepreneurship. In Thailand, she organized a seminar to gather social enterprises across Asia, invited Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi winner, to share experiences …

In one year, Nguyen Thuy Ngan traveled to England, Rwanda, Thailand, Bangladesh, Nepal, Singapore, Chile, staying with more than 50 families, connecting with 300 social entrepreneurs. Every three months, Ngan comes to a new continent.

“After the trip, I learned about freedom. Freedom is not about what you want to do, what you like to have, but freedom is in any circumstances – if you are not being respected in the UK, or In the noisy Banglades – I can still enjoy, accept and choose the attitude of living in that situation “, Ngan shared.

Before this trip around the world, Nguyen Thuy Ngan had received sponsorships from two other billionaires. Coming to the US to study abroad at the age of 17 thanks to a full scholarship from Macalester College, Minnesota, but Vietnamese girls always have the desire to bring study opportunities to those who do not have the opportunity. That is why, after being away from home for 3 weeks, and still unable to get used to a foreign country, Ngan volunteered to teach children of color.

Studying for 2 months, she saw that the Projects for Peace scholarship awarded by philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis gave the students community projects, Ngan “risked” to participate. The technology project carried out at the Hope orphanage Center in Lap Thach, Vinh Phuc, of the young student in turn surpasses other candidates and ultimately wins the project of a senior student, won 10,000 USD.

In the summer of 2014, Ngan returned to the country to deploy the project. During the six weeks she ate and slept, worked with children at the Hope Center, taught them computer skills, rhetoric and English, as well as organized job orientation workshops. She passed on to orphans a secret of her own success: Technology and English are the key to opening the door to the future.

Thuy Ngan (red shirt) and volunteers spent 6 weeks bringing technology projects to 60 children at the Center of Hope, Lap Thach, Vinh Phuc, in the summer of 2014. Photo: Character provided.

Thuy Ngan (red shirt) and volunteers spent 6 weeks bringing technology and English projects to children at the Hope Center, Lap Thach, Vinh Phuc, summer 2014. Photo: Characters provided.

In the second year, Thuy Ngan became a volunteer for an organization that helps immigrant and refugee women and girls. After several times participating in activities, she found that in immigrant families, parents and children did not have connection, especially in educational orientation. This discovery of the Vietnamese girl convinced the Phillips Fund Scholarship Fund, founded by the billionaire couple Jay Phillips, to give $ 16,000 to experiment with remedial measures.

In the summer of 2015, the neighborhood in Saint Paul became active with the appearance of a Vietnamese student. Each week, a roundtable discussion takes place between more multilingual parents such as Hmong, Karenni, Liberia, Nigeria and Somali with Thuy Ngan. There, Ngan answers all questions from parents on topics ranging from applying to college and financial aid to the importance of extracurricular activities.

However, she soon realizes that is not enough, because the fact that there is no English, immigration background, cultural barriers of parents is what makes children inferior. The idea of ​​video recording in which the children frankly ask their parents about their origins and the integration process is carried out. On the end of the project, all gathered around the banquet table with typical dishes of many ethnic groups, watching the movies together. A lot of people cried.

There are children who say that they are now proud of their origins, mothers who understand and support their children’s learning path better. A mother walked over to Ngan, thanking her and wanted the program to continue allowing more immigrants to participate. “That year I instructed three girls to write essays and all three later received college scholarships,” Ngan said.

The help of American billionaires through these scholarships helps Hanoi girls experience and have a young age without wasting a moment. However, Ngan also realized that his projects were “premature”. As in Vinh Phuc, she trained 60 children, left 10 computer sets for the orphanage as well as established a group of enthusiastic volunteers, but when the money was out, the project could no longer continue.

“How do projects live on their own?”, Ngan wondered. When working part-time at a bicycle repair shop, this female student has found a solution. It recycles discarded cars into new ones. Proceeds are used to pay salaries for employees, who are teenagers aged 16 years and over in difficult circumstances. “I find another form of charity work is social enterprises – where economic development is not first, but social development first,” Thuy Ngan said.

Randy Treichel, former director of this business shared with VnExpress, Jasmine Nguyen (Ngan in English) worked for the Youth Express while studying at Macalester College. She has worked closely with their store to expand marketing plans, teach young apprentices, and design tools to measure project success.

“In my 25 years of operation, I have never worked with anyone who had such a profound impact on her in such a short amount of time,” said Randy Treichel.

Nguyen Thuy Ngan does field research at Madina Market, Ghana in 2016 for her startup project.  Photo: Character provided.

Nguyen Thuy Ngan does field research at Madina Market, Ghana in 2016 for her startup project. Image: Characters provided.

After a trip around the world, Nguyen Thuy Ngan decided to return to Vietnam, becoming the manager of the Asia-Pacific region of AngleHack to pass on what he had gathered to young people in the country. In nearly 2 years she has organized more than 20 coding hackathons. In June, the Hack Co Vy online competition to find anti-Covid-19 technology solutions brought together 300 players from all over the world, choosing 4 ideas to “incubate”. Next November, Ngan will launch a competition to find solutions to recover the economy after the pandemic.

“I am fortunate to have many helpers in my youth. So from what I am doing, I want to show young people how big the world is out there and encourage them to step boldly out of their comfort zone, Becoming the captain steered his life “, Ngan expressed.

Phan Duong


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