Kickstart your Future – Guest blog by Ms Huong Nguyen

It has been an absolute blast over the last few months with our two projects in full swing: our inaugural ‘Kickstart Your Future’ women’s empowerment program; and our first ‘Our Words Our Worlds’ Pirate Kim bilingual book.

And so I invited a special guest blogger, Ms Huong Nguyen, part of the Kita Delta team here in Nha Trang to share her experience with the ‘Kickstart Your Future’ program.

In her words in English below (and in Vietnamese here):

On the occasion of Vietnamese Women’s Day on October 20 – the day honoring the value of Vietnamese women, Ms. Tran Thi Thu Trang from the Australian social enterprise Kita Delta – in collaboration with Sheraton Nha Trang & Alana Hotel Nha Trang, together with volunteers from Nha Trang, convened the inaugural ‘Kickstart Your Future’ women’s empowerment program in Nha Trang. And it was an honour for me to be a part of the program.

The program was designed for young women 20-25 years wishing to develop their confidence as they start their career (eg students or graduates in colleges/universities). This is a program that Ms. Trang has devoted so much effort and time to in order to equip young women with basic ‘soft’ skills to get a head start in building a career through workshops and mentoring relationships with experienced professionals. At the end of the program, she hoped participants would take away a sense of empowerment to shape their future, for themselves and their community.

After only a short time, the program attracted more than 20 participants. I myself did not hesitate to share this program throughout the Facebook pages and many of my friends enthusiastically enrolled in the program. What made me pleased is that they expressed that they had a wonderful experience over the course of the 4 workshops.

Although each workshop lasted only an hour and a half on every Saturday morning at the Sheraton Hotel, the participants took away many useful insights from guest speakers who shared their experiences, and from participating in interactive activities to develop their skills. The participants also had a chance to take up an internship with Alana Hotel which for me, as a senior student of foreign language department, is very desirable!

The 4 workshops would not have been possible without the contribution of the special guests who did not hesitate sharing their personal and professional journeys (of their success and failures). Every guest speaker had their own story. The guest speakers were:

Ms. Catherine Racsko – General Manager of Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel, Ms. Anya Dinh – Executive Assistant of Alana Hotel, and Ms. Nguyen Thi Thoa – Researcher at Department of Biotechnology and Aquatic Vaccines.

The guest speakers, volunteer organizing team members and volunteer mentors came to the program with the desire to share their life’s lessons based on their experiences with the participants. Each workshop was especially designed to focus on various insights about the experience of women and their livelihoods in society, namely:

  1. Your strengths – Finding your place in this world: Saturday 20 October
  2. ‘Think outside of the box’ – Building up your own business: Saturday 27 October
  3. ‘View from the inside’ – Landing and holding a job: Saturday 3 November
  4. Over to you – Meet the mentors: Saturday 10 November

The 4 workshops proved successful. The young women openly shared their stories and life’s circumstances, and shared their current dilemmas with their cohort to gather feedback and advice. The workshops were held in a cozy atmosphere – an informal meeting among friends to get to know each other better – rather than a classroom environment (that participants would typically encounter in Vietnamese culture). There were no barriers or gaps between the mentors and the participants. It was their inspirational stories that helped to connect everyone together.

The last workshop was the most memorable for me. I still remember Le’s touching story about her motivations and her dreams in her life, how she overcame difficult circumstances and barriers to pursue her passion for sports. Her story tugged at the hearts and drew tears from the participants that day, and left many valuable lessons for us about not giving up on one’s dreams. After summarizing all the lessons in the 4 workshops, Ms. Trang and the mentors awarded certificates and souvenirs to the participants. At the end of the workshops, participants were assigned a mentor that they meet once/month for four months. When Ms. Trang called the names of each participant and their mentors to receive their certificates, they seemed very happy, excited and a little bit overwhelmed with emotion as the workshop phase wrapped up and transitioned to a mentoring phase. The program was not coming to an end – the next phase of mentoring relationships opens up new beginnings for all participants. The participants took away tools and insights to start on planning their future, setting goals and pursuing their own dreams and passions.

By being a member of the organizing team, and I got to witness the team’s professional working style and attentive attitude of Ms Trang and the volunteer mentors. I hope in the coming months, the program would be continued and expanded through further sponsorship, allowing for with a greater reach and connection with other young women throughout Vietnam.


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