Hoang Thi Minh Hong, Founder and General Director of non-profit environmental organization CHANGE, was among the 12 participants from a dozen different countries selected to attend Obama Foundation Scholars Program for the academic year 2018-2019 at Columbia University.
This is the first time the program has been held at Columbia University, New York, in addition to the original program still conducted at University of Chicago.
Throughout the duration of nine months, scholars from both universities will have a chance to meet four times in different cities of United States so as to create a global network of Obama Foundation scholars.
Selected for being an active and influential environmentalist, Hoang Thi Minh Hong said, “Over the world, efforts of social workers like us are always appreciated and supported by leaders, well-known organizations, universities, and international communities.”
Thanks to the connection, the participants can cooperate and support each other internationally to find solutions to current problems including climate change, education, health, and governments’ transparency.
Upon finishing the program, scholars are expected to return to their home countries or regions to continue along the path of service through a full-time job or volunteer opportunities while remaining engaged with the foundation as leaders of the foundation’s expansive network.
Hoang Thi Minh Hong is an active and credible environmentalist in Vietnam who has become increasingly influential thanks to her active role on Facebook in spreading the importance of protecting the environment.
In addition to being general director of CHANGE, she was also recognized a climate hero by Climateheroes.org organization for her contribution both through her active role in CHANGE and for her individual efforts.
As an East/Southeast Asia Coordinator, Hong organizes youth movements in Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand.
“It’s very difficult to change old people’s minds, so that’s why I start with the younger generation. So we organize workshops, we go to universities, we give lectures – fun ones – to prove that environmental protection, or climate mitigation, can be fun,” Hong shared on Climate Heroes website.
Moreover, in 1997, Hong, at the age of 24, became the first Vietnamese person to set foot on the Antarctic Peninsula after she participated in the UNESCO expedition team of 35 youth from 25 countries.
She also received recognition from Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc this year.
In 2009, she returned to Antarctic Peninsula as Vietnam’s Group leader in International Antarctica Expedition held by 2041 ClimateForce organization.
|Hoang Thi Minh Hong is one of 12 selected participants of Obama Foundation Scholars Program. Photo: CHANGE|
Raising environmental awareness among Vietnamese businesses
Before the scholars officially started a new academic year from September 2018 to May 2019, the two groups of scholars met up and had an orientation week filled with activities in Chicago.
During this week, the scholars had a chance to meet Former United States President Barack Obama and other scholars.
The former president delivered an inspiring speech in which he shared his heartfelt experience, encouraged participants to keep on contributing to the society, as well as finding solutions to current social issues so as to attain a better future.
During the first week of orientation, the group of scholars came up with an idea to attract Vietnam’s businesses to be more involved in environment and sustainable development projects.
The scholarship awarded to participants covers all expenses including tuition fee, accommodation, and transportation.
Other expenses in the program are also covered in the scholarship.
Another Vietnamese that was selected for the program but at University of Chicago for 2018-2019 is Lan Nguyen.
Obama Foundation Scholars Program was established in order to empower leadership capabilities of influential individuals who have significant contribution to society through networking, consulting, and contributing to communities in United States during the course.
Obama Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by former US President Barack Obama, first African American president in power from 2009 to 2017.
The foundation aims at inspiring, empowering, and connecting people to change the world.