It’s been 1 week since I first touched down Omaha for my Academic Fellowship on Civic Engagement at UNO and I sincerely fell in love with this city at first sight. Omaha got me not only by how beautiful and peaceful it is but also by how friendly and warm-hearted its people have shown towards us. One fully-packed week with many first-hand experiences, looking back, I was indeed so blessed to meet and learn from the non-profit organization (NPO) leaders who strongly inspired me to keep hoping and believing in what I am currently doing in my country.
Traveling from Vietnam to USA, I brought along my passion about mental health, counseling as well as the way my organization chooses to heal people by talking. Since mental health topics are still not openly discussed in Vietnam, along with the unpopularity of counseling, it has been challenging for us to reach out and touch those who seek help. Working for a young organization as a multitasking staff, over the past few years, I many times felt exhausted, lost motivation and wanted to give up; many times I asked myself whether it was my passion or I just worked hard to survive. The discussion with NPO leaders undoubtedly enlightened me, literally also by questions: “Who am I SERVING?”, “If it’s not you, WHO?”, “If it’s not now, WHEN?”.
Definitely I am serving those who struggle with mental health problems or simply just need a listening ear to express their feelings. Surely it’s me who are a people person and have a strong desire to healing, connecting and inspiring others. Finally, I strongly believe that life is a journey and there are always bound to be road bumps. If today someone has to live with his pain, my organization and I are there to offer help. It is “now”, and always.
Thank you YSEALI for this amazing learning trip that helped me get more motivation and inspiration to continue contributing to my NPO work in Vietnam. Nobody says it is easy, but I can always keep in mind these questions to keep moving forward.
(Luong – Pham Thi Phuong Luong)