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Across Time and Space: My Romantic European Chance Encounter.

Yes! As you can guess from the title, this is yet another story about chance encounters - thanks to the upside of globalization. However, it is not your conventional love stories taking place in Europe as you might think. Rather, while on my path of pursuit for change-making, I found myself fall in love with something else...



My name is Lan – a 21-year-old university student from Vietnam. I am currently in the last year of pursuing my bachelor degree at the University of Hong Kong. While double majoring in Sociology and International Politics, I have spent a large portion of my time investigating the intricate workings of the systems and institutions that shape our world, desiring to make them work better. Or in other words, I have a passion for international development and creating positive social impacts.


And so once upon a time in the Netherlands, during my one year on exchange in Utrecht University, I had the privilege of attending a TEDx event in the city of Delft 2013. Among the handful of speeches on technology, traveling, and arts, I was especially drawn to a talk on Oxfam Novib’s innovative project called E-motive, delivered by by the project leader Carin Boersma. Awestruck and inspired, I worked up the courage and came up to Carin during one of the breaks. We then discussed the possibility of me contributing and learning more about the project.



What I found so special in the Carin’s message was the innovative way of looking at social and developmental changes in developing countries, respecting and taking the voice and needs in the local contexts into account. The main ideology is that development is no longer happening thanks to the paternalistic approach offered by only developed countries. However, development now is more possible with the conjoint cooperation and local knowledge available from the developing countries as well.




Furthermore, there was also an emphasis on cross-regional knowledge exchange as well as putting significance on the mutual commitment for change. Although I understand that E-motive is by no means the first, nor it is the one and only initiative aiming to change the status quo of knowledge exchange and breaking of stereotypes - I knew I was in love.

I was in love with the idea - coming from a developing country, I strongly identify myself with the issues, with E-motive’s proposed solutions and wish to bring my cross-cultural perspectives to contribution.

Quite a few phone calls and meetings after, I became E-motive's contributor. Even with its ups and downs like anything else in life, I was determined to bring my humble contribution to support the project.

So, although when my time in the Netherlands had come to an end and now that I have come back to Hong Kong to continue my study, I am honored to take on the role of E-motive’s correspondent in Asia with this blog. The main aim is to reflect regional social issues and best practices of development projects in Asia. This is hopefully to be done through my perspectives with the E-motive’s lens. This serves to promote knowledge sharing and break stereotypes across culture.

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On the other hand, I am aware that running this blog space is as much of a challenge as a valuable learning experience. There would be a lot of room for improvement as this blog goes, in order to keep the content relevant, up-to-date and fresh. I still decided to get on board, recalling a piece of advice from a wise person: “Allow yourself to be a beginner. Nobody starts off being excellent.”

So, constructive feedbacks and comments would be more than welcome. I would greatly appreciate the support to refine and develop this platform to its fullest potential and truest meaning – a place for quality ideation and exchange of knowledge.


Stay tuned for more! (: