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I came across this on the other day and figured I should keep it somewhere safe. Sometimes keeping something helped reminding me of who I am, what I live up for. This is the excerpt of my interview with Women of Vietnam on 2017 when I was freshly back from the USA. I was happy and full of hope.

1. Can you tell us about yourself ?

I'm a Hanoian who is current hosting Hanoi Papaya Homestay. I spent most of my twenties outside Vietnam. Those places have embedded in my soul and breath. After I decided to live in Hanoi, my plan is to further introduce Hanoi souls to the world. First, through the homestay then other projects related to knowledge sharing and crafts.

2. Who or what inspires you in your life ?

Diana Vreeland for her absolute passion for style and beauty. Her exquisite choice of words inspires me to speak mindfully. Her dedicated sense of beauty sparkles my sense to spot prettiness in ordinary objects. Her grace encourages me to live with my chin up and never lose my core values.

Yohji Yamamoto for his motto and his view of an "ideal woman". I can live up to any quote of Yohji. My favourite is “For me, a woman who is absorbed in her work, who does not care about gaining one’s favour, strong yet subtle at the same time, is essentially more seductive. The more she hides and abandons her femininity, the more it emerges from the very heart of her existence.”

3. What decided you to do what you are doing today ?

Faith and guts. Faith made me to be a government official first. It then brought valuable opportunities and incredible people to my life. And then guts allow me to do what I am passionate about which it knowledge sharing and Vietnamese craftsmanship.

4. What advice would you give your 21 year old self ?

My 21 year old self was alright. I wanted to tell my 15 year old not trying so hard to be different. People with flesh and bones are similar anyhow. Just step out, experience, and discover yourself. The rest is noise.

5. If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

I will care for my grandparents more. I was childish back then.

6. To your opinion, what skills are essential for young women nowadays ?

I'm not a hardcore feminist. I won't say women should be strong and fearless and built all our skills to be unbreakable trenches.

I believe we should be both "velvet and steel". We are velvet to expose our feminine side to our loved ones, to be vulnerable with beauty, to be gentle and empathize with others.

But deep down, we are steel to leave and forfeit anything toxic to yourself. We fight to get what we want for our happiness and for the greater good.

These skills are rooted in our own nature. I believe Vietnamese woman are more than capable of being so.

7. What book have you recently read that you would recommend

Những Câu Chuyện Từ Trái Tim - Tự Truyện Trần Văn Khê (A biography of Tran Van Khe - a Vietnamese famous musician)

8. Was there a particular moment in your life that shaped your perception of the world today?

At the age of 21, I went through a surgery and realized the impermanent of life. I decided to live for each moments and fight for anything I believe in.

9. What are 3 words that you think describe you the best ?

A carnation bouquet

10. We all have ups and downs in our life, what do you think is your biggest failure ?

I make small little mistakes and failures from time to time. I haven't made anything big enough to generate "big" failure.

11. How do you spend your time?

I practice copperplate calligraphy, read biography books, and watch documentaries.

12. What are the most important factors to you concerning planning your future?

Its sustainability and impacts

13. What's one thing you still struggle with?

My limited network and capital

14. What is something you'd like to share that we haven't asked?

What I treasure the most is my family. I think youngsters these days sometimes forget family values. Vietnamese elderly tends to live in nursing home. If anyone have spare time, please watch Alive inside (2014) and Andrew Jerk, Room 335 (2006) to copy with aging parents.

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Hồng Ngọc Nguyễn
Hồng Ngọc Nguyễn

All of these things about you surprise me, teacher !

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