|Trinh Hanh An is the winner of the first National essay competition commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations.
Reporter: Welcome to the show, Hanh An! Congratulations on winning! You were among five young finalists selected from more than 150 contestants from all across the country. What motivated you to take part in the contest?
Hanh An: I think it was because it was a very, very rare opportunity for young adults, especially university students to participate in such a contest that involves high-profile personnel working in different parts of international development, security, and diplomacy. So I think it’s a wonderful way to get engaged with the scene in Vietnam. And because I’m also very interested in the development of Vietnam.
Reporter: What does your essay feature?
Hanh An: My essay is very different from my speech. In the essay, I talked a lot about different aspects of Vietnam’s contribution to the United Nations, including economic contribution, especially how we are the main export of some of the agricultural products and beverages like rice, cashews, coffee, etc; how our manufacturing sector has steadily expanded; and how we have become one of the main producers of smartphones, electronics, textiles, and footwear in the world. Then I talked about social development in Vietnam, how we reduced illiteracy rates, and how we improved our educational equality. Finally I talked about how Vietnam has engaged in international peace and security, especially as this year we were elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2020-2021 term, and served as the Chair of ASEAN last year. Then I discussed how that dual position has helped us to propose a lot of changes and improvements in the ASEAN-UN relationship. I also talked about challenges laying ahead, especially inequality between urban and mountainous regions, different ethnic groups, disparity between genders, and people with disabilities.
|UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam Caitlin Wiesen (Leftmost) and former Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the UN Nguyen Phuong Nga (Rightmost) are among the expert judges.
Reporter: So at the final pitching round, you met the Panel of Expert Judges including Ms. Nguyen Phuong Nga, former Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the UN; Mr. Do Hung Viet, former Deputy Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the UN; and Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Viet Nam. Dream team, right? In your presentation, you talked about your own experience, showing how excellently Vietnam has coped with the COVID-19 pandemic. I bet our listeners are very interested in it. Can you elaborate more on that?
Hanh An: I was in the last flight coming in to Vietnam on March 24th. We were the last group to get into the country as an economy flight, not a rescue flight. It was exhausting. It took me 4 days to come from the US back to Vietnam. Before that I was in Senegal, Africa. Then I flew over to Europe, which had a huge breakout then. And then I came back to the US for a week and a half to learn my school was shutting down, and moved everything online. Then I had to book a flight home, which got cancelled 3 or 4 times, and finally made it on the last flight with a bunch of other people, and quarantined for 2 weeks in Ho Chi Minh City. Then I came back home, quarantined for another 2 weeks. The whole journey was exhausting but I think what was good about it was that I always felt like I was welcome by my country, to be home, to be safe, to be protected. It was totally free for the quarantine process. Our food and supplies were paid for. When I flew back to Hanoi because Hai Phong was in total lockdown, I was able to get a military bus from the airport to the military base in Hai Phong. Then I got in to an ambulance to get back home. The whole system was well coordinated.
Reporter: In the Q&A segment, you got 2 questions, both related to environmental problems. Please share your opinions on this issue with us!
Hanh An: First is about plastic waste, how to deal with it and the second is about carbon footprint. For both of them, I divided into different levels of engagement (at individual level as a consumer and at public, cooperate level). We have to lessen both. It’s like need and demand. We have to reduce both. For example, for carbon footprint, I was very much focusing on power only, because I think that’s a huge part of the carbon footprint of any country. So just save more power, use and produce it more efficiently. Vietnam has so many dams, we have like 22,000 dams, way too many dams to be handled perfectly well. And a lot of them are inefficient. We need to make use of our terrain, our very narrow width, and extreme height to the sea. It’s very good terrain for hydro-power. We also need to lessen our dependence on coal fire electricity that is foreign imported. We have to make use of our hydro-power and other green energies but more efficiently, have better plans for maintenance of what we already have. So that’s at a higher government level. At the lower level, let’s say corporate level, every manufacturer, every business needs to limit their energy consumption. So how do we lessen that? We can use different kinds of windows, make use of the most renewable energy. That’s the individual level. Refuse if you don’t need anything. Live a minimal lifestyle. Stop using plastic bags. Save as much energy as possible. And consume less water, please save water!
Reporter: As the winner, you received a cash prize of 5,000,000 VND and a 6-month-internship with UNDP, with reservation date within 12 months. Have you started your internship yet?
Hanh An: I haven’t started my internship yet. My internship will probably take place in the summer when I have my summer break. I’m very eager to take part in it. I’m very excited actually and I’ve talked briefly with my future bosses at the UNDP. I’m very excited to join in projects related to environment and urban issues, inequality, and development in mountainous areas. I’ve done a lot of research and worked with people from so many countries before, in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the US, and Senegal. But it’s my first time doing something professional and contributes to the development of Vietnam. I’m really looking forward to it.
Reporter: Thank you, Hanh An for being with us!
Hanh An: Thank you for listening!