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31/10/2017 | Tags: volunteer , story , US

Volunteer feature spotlight – Meet Thu

Hello friends!

We think that it’s important for you to know what happens to your donations.

We believe that you should have peace of mind when you donate to VietHope. That’s why we want you to meet our team of volunteers and leaders who help make sure that your donations go straight to the students who need it the most.

Meet Thu.

What is your role at VietHope?

Event & fundraising, analytics

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Sai Gon for 18 years before coming to the US for college. I graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and am working toward medical school. I am in my gap year and currently working as a Program and Finance associate for Stanford University where I help develop educational programs, conferences and events for students, scholars, and the community. In my free time, if I am not baking or hanging out with VietHope, you could find me obsessively strolling through hundreds of cat and corgi photos online. I also practice kick-boxing for cardio and self-defense.

How did you become involved with VietHope?

In 2015, I was awarded many merit scholarships that helped me with my college costs. Although I knew I had worked hard to earn those scholarships, I felt like my classmates deserved the same opportunities I received. At my high school in Vietnam, I knew many of my classmates were just as talented and deserving as I was, and had they had the opportunity to study in the US, they could have received these scholarships. I came across VietHope through a Google search when I was looking for an educational cause to donate to underprivileged students in Vietnam to share my fortune with them. After realizing that I would be able to contribute more than just money, I applied to volunteer. VietHope has become my passion ever since.

Why do you give your time/money to VietHope?

I am passionate about my work for VietHope. VietHope’s self-sustaining nonprofit model not only awards merit-based and financial need-based scholarships, but also provides students with community building and leadership training programs.

The opportunity to work for VietHope to directly create and witness change in the lives of many well-deserving Vietnamese students has shaped my identity and empowered me to become a compassionate leader. I am humbled everyday working with the most talented volunteers of VietHope – they are not only high achieving, but also kind and dedicated to education for underprivileged Vietnamese students and communities.

More importantly, VietHope serves as a constant reminder of the hardships my communities still continue to face every day and how fortunate I am. The VietHope staff has been my emotional support task force and my home away from home.

What is your favorite memory of VietHope?

My most memorable one was in December 2016 when our fearless leader- Quang Duong-led the California VietHope friends on a camping trip on Channel Islands. The cold winter on the island and the lack of camp fire forced us to become closer to each other than ever. We crammed ten people in a small tent to share body heat. We played Mafia while the island foxes were running around foraging our food scraps. We woke up at 2 AM for star gazing, while smelling the pit toilet nearby. We fought over the last bag of mi goi that just before the trip, we deemed “too unhealthy to eat”. After camping, we spent Christmas together kayaking in San Diego.

How do you ensure that donations do the most good?

We are unpaid volunteers. We do the work that we do because we were once in our students’ shoes. All of VietHope staff have once received scholarships and awards. Therefore, we understand not only the financial, but also the emotional importance of these awards. Our US team is more fortunate as we are introduced to a more diverse cultural and social experiences. We aim to transfer this social capital to our students in Vietnam to close the gap.

Additionally, our operation is highly efficient. We manage to run most of our fundraising campaigns online and only host one small appreciation dinner a year to minimize our administrative expenses. 

Most importantly, we have a highly self-sustaining system where VietHope scholarship alumni return after graduation to help the next generation of VietHope students. Our students are trained to lead and create social impact through our development programs. The university scholarship recipients also take part in the selection process for our merit scholarship (K-12 students).

Thu – the girl in pink with other VietHope volunteers & donors at our Donor Appreciation Party 2017

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