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UNV Publications

Inspiring Colleagues in UN Viet Nam

Author: Ann Marie Murphy, UNV Sexual and Reproductive Health Officer, UNFPA Viet Nam

Photo: UN Volunteers Viet Nam

Being a UN Volunteer (UNV) in Viet Nam isn’t simply about doing your everyday job and tasks well. It’s that and also coming up with new initiatives and ideas with the goal of doing things a little differently than before in order to make things better and also inspire others. After all, that’s why the UNV logo is ‘We are inspiration in action’.

A recent initiative by UNVs in the country office - Inspirational Talks - turned into a very successful event. The aim was to add what could be described as a bit of ‘spice’ to the normal work day. The recipe was simple - a number of inspirational talks given by invited UN staff on anything they felt passionate about mixed with a combination of tea and delicious snacks, and served to all staff to enjoy.

On 30 January 2018 colleagues gathered on the ground floor of the UN building and UNFPA Representative, Astrid Bant opened the afternoon event with a beautiful talk on ‘The role of time and patience in the development of knowledge’. Staff were truly amazed to learn of her experiences living among Amazonian headhunters. She demonstrated from her own life and experience that it’s not always important to have a plan and to map everything out. Positive outcomes can often come from living in a way that is true to yourself and your values and not worrying about what’s coming next. She illustrated the importance of patience by sharing the story of one of her most significant pieces of anthropological research which would not have been achieved without both the patience of careful observation and living in one single place for a long period of time.

UN Women Representative Elisa Fernandez next began her talk speaking about her upbringing in Costa Rica and shared various lessons from her life. She spoke to the audience for example about valuing your own ideas and of those moments when it’s important to not hesitate to speak up when you have something to say, as you never know what impact your words and ideas can have. She demonstrated this by talking about a project she spoke up for which had a huge impact on improving the lives of many women in her home country.

Viet Lan Nguyen from UN Communications then gave a very humorous and uplifting account of the different emotions she had felt the previous weekend in watching the U-21 football finals where Vietnam lost to Azerbaijan. Among other emotions, she spoke of happiness, of excitement, of sadness and of hope.

The event aimed to recognize that our colleagues at the UN in Vietnam not only contribute to achieving ambitious goals in their work life but also have much to teach and share from their personal experiences. As the great Mr. Einstein once said and as was stated in the welcoming lines at the event ‘Logic will take you from A to B, imagination will take you everywhere.’

The feedback from attendees was very positive, with many asking follow up questions about each talk, giving their own input and reflections on topics discussed and thanking UNV for organizing the event and the speakers for presenting. It was clear that they appreciated this opportunity to participate in a relaxed atmosphere and see their colleagues that they had known for many years in a different light and many were even asking when the next UNV inspirational talks would be. With such positive feedback and the knowledge that we work with many amazing people that have great ideas to share, very soon no doubt!

Photo: UN Volunteers Viet Nam

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