My summer with the Avengers

When I start typing the very first words about YVS, about IChallenged 2012, it has been more than 1 month since our project finished. Thinking about days working on it, I cannot help smiling and feeling proud of what we have achieved so far. To the whole group, it was such a miracle when we could work out such a big project in such a short time, with a few core members, and limited financial support. To me, it was a brand-new experience, which has left great impacts on my mindset.

The story started in a day of late May when I received a Facebook message from Tran Ha Duong about joining Avengers team, giving a hand to a project, aiming at the youth with a view to enhancing youth capability in critical thinking, debate and public speaking. Critical thinking, debate, and public speaking are not totally new concepts in Vietnam; in fact, there have been some kinds of workshops or competitions taking place to promote the skill sets. However, as I realized, these kinds of workshops and competitions are mainly conducted in English, and in case they are conducted in Vietnamese, they are just sporadic and unsystematic workshops, lacking practice, leading to moderate impacts on the youth. At first, I was quite hesitant to join the project due to my nearly full commitment in the summer but finally, I was persuaded to come on board, expending all of my summer on the project.

I officially joined the project on June 20, after finishing final exams, after nearly all members in Avengers. However, I felt like home right after meeting them for the first time. Things were quite messy at first. I was assigned to be delegate executive, caring about the attendees, and suddenly, to be logistics manager just after a few hours. I was panicked and afraid of this position. I have not much experience in things like logistics and my schedule had been filled with works at IDG and Ychallenge was still on the run. I was afraid that my performance would affect the final result of the project. A sense of crisis came across my mind and at that time, I just wanted to scream out loud. Then I thought that now I had already set my foot on the board, giving up meant jumping in the river and coming into another trouble. Instead of thinking much on what I had to do and what I had to abandon, save the room for action. The first and foremost difficulty, which was psychological barrier, was overcome.

Logistics was fairly new to me. I was first interested in this field after witnessing the accomplishment of Organizing Department of English Club of Foreign Trade University at BEEPRO. I like making the master plan for the whole event, facilitating the event with the necessary materials, building on-site, trying to practice cost-efficiency and delegating tasks to other members during the events. I have learnt a bunch of lessons during time working on the events. I had to make a detailed list of necessary materials for the event, imagining and discussing with friends to find out any materials that may need buying for the event. I had to work closely with the content managers to work out a suitable timeline so that they had to send the list of materials to me, and the perfect time frame for the conference so that I could build the onsite. I had to prepare well before meeting suppliers, expecting any issues possibly happening along the way and making a list of questions to make sure that I had enough material with appropriate quality. I spent days on making on-site, sketching the floor plan and making procurement plan. Never have I been into something like this, thinking hard about it all the time, using lots of paper for drafting and making lots of phone calls to potential suppliers to make sure the most inexpensive price. Looking back on those days, I cannot believe that I have done it. After working full-time at IDG, I went to Duong’s house for meeting with the team and usually came home at 11 pm. What I have learnt after accomplishing logistics tasks: the ability to work out plans to make sure everything is going on the right track, the ability to coordinate with other team members as well as suppliers, an eye for detail, more confidence in negotiating with other stakeholders, quick problem-solving skills and more importantly the readiness to take action.

Working in YVS, I have chance to make friends with many adorable friends. Some are learning in the US. Some are from Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam and Hanoi University of Science and Technology. They are not kind of experienced people in running event but the most important lesson I learnt from them is their way of thinking. They believe in the power of passion, they dare to think big, they are poised to jump into action to make things happen and they are willing to make impacts on society. These attitudes have been missed by me during time at university and once again, they are awakened. THINK BIG, PERSISTENCE, and over all PASSION. These keywords have been deeply ingrained in my mind for the whole summer and changed my mindset dramatically.

Working with YVS, I have chance to be crazy, literally. Crazy enough to go ahead in the heavy rain to join the meeting. Crazy enough to travel more than 30km per day to execute tasks. Crazy enough to go to bed at 3a.m after having finished all plans… were crazy, therefore, we met each other. I like the “trial and error” spirit. I like the motto: “YOLO – You only live once”. The crazy stuff I have experienced go well with the heavy rain of the summer. I wonder if it is the weather or it is the youth spirit that instilled such energy in my mind that kept me from falling down this summer.

Frequent meeting really binds us together. I once heard from a friend of mine that the bond made among the first generation of the organization is often stronger than the bond made between members of the 5th or 6th generation onwards. The first generation has to work hard with each other to establish a firm platform for the next generation. They have to meet each other frequently, working across sections if needed; therefore, the bond made between them is often stronger. This fact proves to be true to our case. We met each other 4-5 times a week, spending all days working with each other, coming through the darkest period and bound together by passion. When the project ended, I even fell into a state of deprivation of working crazily like this. It took me 1-2 weeks to come back to my previous life, balancing YVS with other special “stakeholders” of mine such as family, university friends, colleagues, friends at EC, Ychallenge, etc. I do hope we will keep in touch and have chance to work together again to create more and more miracles.

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