Press release:

The New Viet Nam Studies Initiative (NVNSI) is delighted to invite you to our Fall symposium, titled “Humanitarian Work in Viet Nam: The Future of Civil Society and Transnational Soft Diplomacy Viet Nam”. The event will take place on November 3, 2017 from 6:00PM to 8:30PM at the University of California Davis’ Student Community Center in the MPR Room.

The aim of the symposium is to generate discussions around Viet Nam’s development, civil society, pressing social issues, and the role of the overseas Vietnamese and others in helping to assist peoples in need to curb and possibly help resolving some of the most dires concerns.

As Viet Nam is the fastest growing country in Southeast Asia, its development is of major interest to its people, global powers, and those with economic interests domestically and internationally. The NVNSI is interested in what paths Viet Nam will take as it ascends politically and economically. One aspect of this growth historically and contemporarily has been the contributions of the overseas Vietnamese or Việt Kiều. This has taken place with remittances, and the economic and social contributions from those living abroad back to their country. Since 1975, remittances to Viet Nam have increased steadily. Today, the annual number for remittances from over 70% of the overseas population has reached 13 billion USD. The need to connect to one’s homeland and the people there remain strong for many in the diaspora. Beyond remittances, approximately half a million Vietnamese come back to the “homeland” annually to vacation and visit family in order to keep these connections alive.

For a number of Vietnamese, assistance also goes beyond their families and extends to helping the larger Vietnamese population. Even shortly after the war, those in diaspora sought ways to send medical supplies, books, and other important materials for societal survival and eventually, growth. This has evolved into organized humanitarian organizations founded and run by Việt Kiều to address some of Viet Nam’s most pressing societal issues. They include nutrition and education for some of the most impoverished ethnic communities, and combatting the illegal trafficking of women and young children in both rural areas and cities.

Our panel will include a diverse representation of overseas Vietnamese engaged in humanitarian work in Viet Nam. They include directors of major non-profit organizations, long time philanthropists and volunteers, and a young generation of those giving back to Viet Nam in the form of voluntary service – such as:

• Xuan Nguyen, Former Director of Refugee Women’s Network
• Quyen Vuong, Co-founder and Executive Director of International Children Assistance Network
• Caroline Nguyen Ticarro, Director and Founder of Catalyst Foundation
• Huanvy Phan, Director and Founder of Viet House Foundation
• James Dien Bui, Managing Director of Lotus Funds