26 Jun A Journey with Women’s Leadership Academy
I am Tram, one of the three delegates from Vietnam in the 2019 U.S. – ASEAN Women’s Leadership Academy (WLA) for YSEALI in Jakarta, Indonesia. It is not exaggerating to acknowledge that the one-week workshop has transformed both my professional and personal life.
Being the first and only female graduate from my extended family, Wedu, and now also the WLA, have opened many doors for me to different worlds. During the WLA workshop, I had the chance to attend different discussions and sessions, with one of my favourites is the Women Who Lead panel discussion. That session allowed me to see the challenges that top female ambassadors in ASEAN faced and are facing, and what they are doing to advance in this male-considered society. I could also resonate with US Mission to ASEAN Charge d’affairs Jane Bocklage’s statement “You won’t belong at the table until you believe you do.” As a female, I used to look at negative consequences that could happen. I used to be risk and challenge averse. I would look at my weakness, instead of appreciating my strength. But not anymore. The statement has become my mantra. It teaches me that my voice matters and my stories are unique. It reminds me that my only obstacle is myself.
Not only learning from speakers and mentors, I also appreciate lessons-learned from other delegates. I felt struck when listening to a single mom’s story about how she struggled after her husband’s sudden death to raise up their five-month-old son while still continue to advance in her career. What’s more, she hoped to enrich her knowledge after the workshop so that she could support other single moms in her country. As humans, we tend to only notice our own problems and sorrow. However, the woman I met thought differently. She did not allow herself to be excused from doing good deeds because of her suffering. She wanted to make a change in the world because she was in pain. Her story teaches me the power of kindness and contributing back to the society.
As a result, I have started sharing stories and lessons I collected in the workshop, hoping that many people could also benefit. I am introducing the concept of gender equality and digital economy to my current students to help them prepare better for the future. I am also strengthening my female students’ self-confidence and encouraging them to share it with more people in their networks. The journey certainly would not be easy, but I believe that together we can cultivate in more people the belief to change themselves in order to make a difference in the world, sooner rather than later.
Once again, thanks U.S Mission to ASEAN and Wedu to make this workshop and journey happen!