|Da Lab boys perform at the BridgeFest 2022 (Photo: BridgeFest Facebook)
As BridgeFest is an event that promotes diversity and social equality, the song’s lyrics are about people who suffer inequality as a reminder to us all that we’re really all the same. Originally called South East Asian Pride in 2016, BridgeFest has become a popular festival that attracts a large audience with its inspirational message of social equality and integration.
Since 2017, it has been co-organized by international NGO Oxfam and the US Embassy. BridgeFest is part of Oxfam’s worldwide campaign “Even It Up – Bridging the Gap” which aims to eliminate inequality.
At the opening ceremony of BridgeFest 2022, Ms. Nicole Wyrsch, Chargé d'Affaires of the Swiss Embassy in Vietnam, said that after five successful years in Hanoi, young people have begun to look forward to BridgeFest every year .
“It's a nice combination. It's about the music, but it's also about raising questions how one is walking through life and our hope for you this afternoon is that, of course, you will have fun, you will enjoy the music, but maybe you reflect on certain questions that are important for your own life and maybe you'll find the true values that are inspiring you and will guide you through your life,” said Ms. Nicole Wyrsch.
She added, “The fact is that the world needs young and engaged and committed people who are ready to become active and that's what we hope - that you will find your mission here, that you will find a reason to act, and you will contribute to a better kind of world for all.”
|Vu Thi Quynh Hoa, National Director of Oxfam in Vietnam, speaks at BridgeFest 2022 opening ceremony. (Photo: Oxfam)
This year BridgeFest relocated to Da Nang city after a 2-year COVID-19 hiatus. Vu Thi Quynh Hoa, National Director of Oxfam in Vietnam, explained the reason for the move, “BridgeFest took place in Da Nang for the first time in 2022. Organizers hoped it would send a message to different regions of Vietnam, and create a push for positive changes that reflect its slogan ‘Be the change towards a humane economy’.”
“A humane economy is a resource-sharing economic model with people at its center that benefits the majority of people instead of a minority of super-rich people. A humane economy reinforces positive views of life in which people are deeply connected to their original culture and surrounding environment,” Hoa explained.
2022 was also the first year the Swiss Embassy participated as one of the event’s organizers.
The Embassy’s Ms. Wyrsch clarified this year’s theme, “Each year a certain theme is chosen. This year it’s about humane economy. It’s a very hot topic in all countries today, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic when we all have realized how fragile life is, how important it is to achieve not only material prosperity, but also social connections, and internal values, and how important to have time to enjoy it. Oxfam already organized a small discussion on the topic and its quite interesting that a majority of participants were Vietnamese from different backgrounds.”
Ms. Nicole Wyrsch took an example of an IT expert who had developed a very good app during the COVID period that allowed people quarantined at home to ask for help from the outside in case they had an urgent need. The app has been applauded for its creativity. That’s an example of humane economy.
|(Photo: BridgeFest Facebook)
As always, the highlight of BridgeFest 2022 was a series of concerts featuring famous national and international artists. Some of the names were American acapella group BackTrack Vocals, Swiss sound artist Nikola H. Mounoud, Vietnamese hip hop band Da LAB, the Buc Tuong band, one of the first professional rock bands in Vietnam, Kimmese, a female rapper known for electrifying performances, and Brainwave and Minh Toc & Lam, representative groups of Gen Z.
|BackTrack Vocals at BridgeFest 2022
Backtrack Vocals showcased the top-notch vocal abilities of all five members and created interesting harmonies. And the performance by Swiss sound artist Nikola H. Mounoud at BridgeFest 2022 must be acknowledged as unique.
BridgeFest’s theme song "Everyone Is the Same" was performed at the main event by Da LAB during an exhilarating flash mob dance performance to stir up the atmosphere of the venue at Da Nang’s Bien Dong Park. Da LAB also performed their famous hits “Thanh Xuan” (Youth) and “Thuc Giac” (Awake).
|Da La performs BridgeFest’s theme song "Everyone Is the Same"
The return of Kimmese to BridgeFest this year contributed yet more electrifying performances, while the duo Minh Toc & Lam made Gen Z audience members fall in love with their fun, unique sounds.
|The Minh Toc&Lam band
This year 32 social organizations, businesses, and youth clubs from across Vietnam came together to make BridgeFest happen. This collaboration represented a concerted effort to address social problems related to the environment, education, healthcare, gender identity, disabilities, women and children, and a better future for all.
|An activitiy to minimize impacts on the environment at BridgeFest 2022 (Photo: Oxfam)
Soh Hanym, representing a group called “The Vanguard for the voice of ethnic minority people”, said that since its establishment in 2015 the group has brought together 17 ethnic minority groups in 20 provinces and cities across Vietnam.
“Our members voluntarily participate in communicating their pride in their cultures and stories about their cultures to more people. Our mission is to help minority people gain pride, confidence, and self-control. Why do we focus on those 3 points? Because, only when people are proud of their culture and proud of their life do they dare to confidently stand in front of others and tell their stories in a self-controlled way,” Soh Hanym said.
|The Vanguard group (Photo: BridgeFest Facebook)
At this year’s BridgeFest, the Vanguard group performed traditional dances and sang songs of the Cham ethnic people, to help the audience better understand the cultural and spiritual values of the Cham and hear the group’s message about connecting all ethnic minority groups in Vietnam.