In March 2018, I started Share A Cause Project, a social campaign that explored how to give the student volunteer community in Vietnam opportunities to grow, innovate, pursue their ideas for good causes, and create more impactful outcomes. Two projects were born from the campaign.
Ripple 2018, a collaboration with the non-profit organization The Orchid Foundation, was a six-month program that that empowered high school and college students to tackle social issues in their communities with innovative solutions by providing funding and mentorship.
UNTOLD, a Kickstarter project, was a documentary series that share the stories of the student volunteer community in Ho Chi Minh City whose social efforts often go under the radar.
DISCOVER THE COMMUNITY
When I first approached the young volunteer community in Vietnam (most of them were high school and college students), I conducted 17 interviews with its members and also its satellite groups. I then shared what I have learned in this blog, To those interested in the student volunteer community and social efforts in Vietnam.
Additionally, I interviewed organizations that were heavily involved in supporting this community.
After having gotten to know those amazing social activists and their challenges, I began brainstorming ideas for how to help the community. It was a long and emotional process, but the new knowledge and connections were so rewarding. And this is what I have learned from designing a community offering.
Two months later, Ripple 2018 was born with three main goals:
To provide students new perspectives on how to tackle social issues and benefit the communities, thus encourage them to generate new and innovative ideas.
To amplify the support for the student volunteer community: Through ongoing programs, we help students who are passionate in making a social impact get connected to the resources, talent, guidance, partnerships and design expertise that they need to thrive.
To build awareness and inspire action: We convene the Vietnamese youth community to collaboratively create solutions to address our social challenges. Everyone who’s involved in or follows the program is inspired to take action, inspiring their local communities to get involved in tackling social issues.
More details about the program
In June, I came back to Vietnam and led two full-day Design Thinking Workshops in Ho Chi Minh City for those who were based here and two 1:1 Skype sessions for the rest.
Ripple 2018 Winner Announcement—Six teams were selected to receive funding, mentorship and support from Ripple to carry out their social projects from June to September 2018.
On March 29th, 2018, I launched my very first Kickstarter campaign.
UNTOLD shared the stories of the student volunteer community in Ho Chi Minh City whose social efforts often went under the radar, delivered in a series of bite-size videos (3–5 minute duration) in documentary style to make it easy to access and share.
UNTOLD recorded the journey of learning in-depth about four groups of volunteer students who pursued innovative social impact ideas in Vietnam. We followed them throughout different phases of their work, interviewed them and everyone who’s involved in the process, especially the audience that they aimed to help.
The series did not only capture the experience, emotions, and moments of volunteerism but also discovered why those students chose the volunteer path, what they had learned and how they had changed as a person. It was a tremendous joy for us to spread out and crystallize this exclusive experience.
According to my research findings from the 17 interviews, groups of volunteer students (mostly high-school) face a lot of challenges in running their social projects because they are young and lack experience. Furthermore, professional non-profits rarely support them. All these factors lead to less innovative approaches, short-term visions, smaller scale and shorter life-span projects, and thus less impactful outcomes. However, I came to realize that “impactful” was a relative term.
In another perspective, despite being just high school students, they already made social changes within their capabilities. I remembered back in my high school days; my only focus was the academic results. In contrary, with little outside help or guidance, those students still strived to contribute to the social efforts every day. They created magical moments for the underserved kids, kids with disabilities, special needs, and orphans. They brought the kids joy, fun, care, and most importantly, love. They transformed their compassion into actions. The more I got to know them, the more I was proud of and admired them. They had touched my heart and impressed me on so many levels.
A month after I started Share A Cause Project, Đinh Hoàng Bảo Thịnh, a dear friend of mine and also a talented video producer, came to express his interest in my campaign and propose a collaboration opportunity. I guess I didn’t need to tell you what my answer was.
That’s how UNTOLD was born.
We decided to use UNTOLD as a story-telling medium to capture and share our amazing discovery journey, as well as highlight and celebrate the social impact made by students in Vietnam.
OUR HOPE FOR UNTOLD
We hope the series would raise awareness about student social work in Vietnam and inspire actions.
For the volunteer students to get new perspectives on how to make a social impact, thus innovate their approach.
For students to get inspired by their peers to take the initiative in creating social change.
For parents in Vietnam to understand how social work can transform their children and open many doors of opportunities to them.
And for people like me who just want to learn more about volunteerism in Southeast Asia and how we can help.
Together, we will amplify support for the volunteer student community.
THE EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER
The campaign successfully funded in fourteen days. It was a HUGE learning curve. A lot of valuable and helpful tips on running a successful Kickstarter campaign can be easily Google or listened to on podcasts, so I hope to only share here my personal lessons with this specific project in this blog, I got kickstarted and here’s what I learned.