November 24, 2007

Formerly the Vietnam Library Association (VLA), this non-profit is aimed to help build learning centers / libraries all across southern Vietnam.  We had to change our name because of the government and other conflicts.  I haven’t talked about it much since we are waiting for our trip in March to help build our first center for some credibility.  It’s based over in Boston by the most caring couple I’ve met, Hao & Chris, both of which are still very young, intelligent, and charismatic.  I fell in love with this organization because I have always wanted to establish a Vietnamese learning center in Orange County.  My parents always taught me to respect and love my native tongue and I was fortunate to have taken classes since grade school and know how to read and write.  English was my secondary language.  Yes, I’m some sort of a FOB and proud of it too. Even though I was born here in the U.S., I was in ESL until the third grade.

Vietnam Learning Association's Website
Earlier this year, I decided to partake on this organization and created my own chapter in Orange County.  It’s really hard to start something so new, especially if it’s a “charity.”  There are plenty Vietnamese ones down here, and most of the time when people think of non-profits, a bit of shadiness creeps over.  A lot of non-profits are shady, where as they keep a percentage of the funds they raise to themselves for useless bullshit.  I’ve approached many “prominent” figures in the Vietnamese industry about the VLA and many have asked why should we give money to a learning center whereas we can fund hospitals, healthcare, doctors in Vietnam?  Why a library, and not a computer center?

My reasons are these:

  • Did you know that Vietnam is 90% literate?  Education there is free up to the 8th grade however with the low infrastructure, a majority of the population cannot afford books.  They are thirsty for knowledge.
  • True that technology is the future, but only for countries or I should say major cities that have the fundamental resources for it.  Electricity, computer technicians, updated software, internet, etc. are needed and those are just extra funds that can be used elsewhere for the center.  There are many areas in Vietnam that have even yet to set up lan lines, phone lines, or even electricity lines.  Books can last for decades and are cheap.
  • Also, when we’re talking about library books, we’re not talking about J.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit or R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series.  We’re talking about how-to books, instruction manuals, healthcare books – books full of helpful knowledge in areas that need it the most.

I thank the people that offered to donate books.  However, you must also remember that we’re donating books to Vietnam.  Vietnamese written books are hard to come by and we’re always looking for translators/scholars.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at: lyndzi@vietnamlibrary.org or visit our website at http://www.vietnamlearning.org.

Because of my involvement with the Vietnamese community here in southern California, I planned a 2008 ao dai calendar project as a means for fundraising.  I’d figure since I know some photographers, makeup artists, and a designer; I might as well take advantage of it.  However with personal, private family matters, I had to postpone the project until next year.  I’m quite sadden about the postponement, and felt as if I had failed, but my reasons are justifiable and only time will tell.  But here’s a few “behind the scenes” shots by Duc the photographer:

Remember these are only previews and aren’t the actual pictures selected for the calendar.  Nifty huh? Can you find me?


Models (starting left): Tiffany Duong, Thuy Phan, Lyndzi Phan, Gina Tran, and Susan Tran.
Photographer: Dr. Duc Pham
Ao Dai Designer: Cynthia Bui Collection (www.myspace.com/cynthiabui_aodai)
Makeup & Hair: Hue & Hien Truong, Staci Huynh, Anha Nguyen, and Lyndzi Phan
Assistants: Tai Bui, Donny Tran, Derick Le, and Lyndzi Phan


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