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Meet the woman who promotes Vietnam's Hung Kings Commemoration Day worldwide

Meet the woman who promotes Vietnam's Hung Kings Commemoration Day worldwide

Monday, January 08, 2024, 10:23 GMT+7
Meet the woman who promotes Vietnam's Hung Kings Commemoration Day worldwide
Holding the Hung Kings Commemoration Day in Thailand in 2019. Photo: Supplied

For the past eight years, Dr. Nguyen Thi Bich Yen, a Vietnamese-Austrian journalist, along with a team of like-minded friends, has dedicated her time to a project aimed at inspiring overseas Vietnamese to remember their homeland.

'Vietnam Ancestral Global Day' (VAGD), was founded in 2015 by Nguyen Thi Bich Yen and a team of overseas Vietnamese intellectuals as a means of preserving and honoring Vietnamese values.

The VAGD was also intended to foster a sense of pride in Vietnam among the Vietnamese community around the world.

An ambitious undertaking

"When I first proposed the idea of [VAGD], some people expressed doubt about its feasibility," Yen said.

"Despite their concerns, I passionately believed that I would be supported and protected by our ancestors if my intentions were genuine and aimed at benefiting the community."

So far, the group has seen success in inspiring overseas Vietnamese to remember their homeland.

In early 2019, for example, the project management team visited four countries in Asia and Europe to prepare for the unveilings of statues of the Hung Kings.

Another poignant moment occurred in 2019 when Yen visited Dong Xuan Market in Berlin, Germany.

During the visit, she found a shop with an old, worn-out collection of Vietnamese poems. 

After speaking with the shop owner, she discovered that the poems were the work of the owner’s late father.

Touched by the story, Yen invited the shop owner and her mother to a commemoration ceremony for the Hung Kings in Berlin scheduled for later that year.

At the event, the shop owner’s mother, dressed in an elegant traditional Vietnamese ao dai, recited her late husband’s poems to a captivated audience.

According to the shop owner’s mother, the poems were authored with the hope of leaving behind a legacy for their children and grandchildren and a literary snapshot of the family’s hometown in Vietnam.

Being able to share her husband’s words with her fellow countrymen in a foreign country, she said, was nothing short of unbelievable.

After the event, the wife of an official from the Vietnamese Embassy in Germany, visibly moved, approached Yen with tears in her eyes, thanking her for hosting such a heartfelt event.

Journalist, Ph.D. Nguyen Thi Bich Yen, a Vietnamese-Austrian woman whose idea is making the Hung King’s Commemoration Day a global event. Photo supplied

Nguyen Thi Bich Yen, a Vietnamese-Austrian woman whose idea is making the Hung Kings Commemoration Day a global event. Photo: Supplied

Cherished achievements and ongoing concerns

The VAGD has continued to grow in the eight years since its inception.

In 2023, ceremonies associated with the VAGD took place in Laos, Germany, and Russia. These events provided online streams accessible to audiences in nearly 40 countries.

Despite its success, concerns over the VAGD still linger, particularly in relation to its lack of formal personnel, insufficient resources, and leadership void.

Currently, the iniative only has one employee who heads the project, but works part-time only.

Given a dearth of resources, Yen is not shy about highlighting what the VAGD does have: deep gratitude to Vietnamese ancestors, a mission to promote Vietnamese culture globally, and a strong national identity that fosters nostalgia for the homeland.

The group’s primary focus is on hosting meaningful activities for the Vietnamese diaspora, including the installation of statues of the Hung Kings and the organization of commemoration ceremonies in several countries.

The VAGD events also honor Vietnamese individuals physically and virtually in nearly 50 countries and territories.

The project has successfully hosted 70 panel discussions on Hung Kings' Day, featuring nearly 700 guests, including intellectuals, scientists, diplomats, and experts.

Participant perspectives

* Pham Thi Minh Huong, project manager for Vietnam Ancestral Global Day in Laos (2023)

"I find this project to be meaningful and humanitarian because it fosters national solidarity and inspires Vietnamese worldwide to embrace their nation. In 2023, as the project manager of the Vietnam Ancestral Global Day in Laos, where Vietnamese-Laotian people and those from 11 other countries gathered, watching my countrymen be moved to tears made me realize the need for greater efforts to contribute to the community and connect Vietnamese across all continents."

* Prof. Dr. Bui Minh Phong, a resident of Hungary and VAGD founding member

“During the project's implementation, we observed an elevation in the role of Vietnamese communities in many countries, inspiring a deeper connection to their homeland. This has facilitated a greater understanding among our foreign friends about the activities we have undertaken to express our love for the motherland. The installation of statues of the Hung Kings and bronze drums in some countries has highlighted the sacred and distinctive features of Vietnamese communities.”

Prof. Dr. Bui Minh Phong was honored with the Knight's Cross medal by the Hungarian president in August 2023.

This prestigious accolade came after his 37 years of dedication to teaching and conducting research (1986-2023) at Eötvös Loránd University. 

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Kim Thoa / Tuoi Tre News

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