#digiactivism

#digi-activism

Friday, October 14, 2011 was a cold night. I remember meeting up with a girl that evening before we departed and went on our separate ways. She was off to a student group party, and I went to welcome travellers from Washington D.C. That evening would become the start of an unexpected journey…

They weren’t just any regular American visitors. They came to Toronto with the goal of educating and mobilizing youth to take part in a greater movement. “Hi, I’m here with the PBC group. There is supposed to be a table booked for us under the name CL, could you show me to it?” I asked the waiter. “I’m sorry but there is no table booked under a ‘CL’. Actually, we have no more tables available, the evening has been very busy sir”. WTF?! Son of a *****, I thought to myself, but was able to prevent the words from rolling off my tongue…

“Ugh, okay”, was the only response I could give the waiter. I stood there looking dumbfounded and was thinking of ways I could troll MT. I’ll troll CL too. And NA while I’m at it. Son of a….wait, there are Vietnamese-looking people at the bar…hmm. I approach the Vietnamese-looking people. They look democratic…

“Hi, are you all here for some sort of PBC event?”, I asked.

“Yes! Hi! We’re from Washington D.C., we just arrived, and you’re the first Torontonian from the group that we’ve met!”

“Ugh…really? Because I’m actually not a member, I’m just here to learn more about this group and I registered for the digiactivism seminar this weekend. Nice to meet you all, and welcome to Toronto.” I took a seat at the bar and surveyed the pub. I’ve been here a few times before, and each time I left with slurred speech, an uncalibrated centre of gravity, and would just be brimming with so much hope for the world…I didn’t expect any different this evening. But this evening was different. For starters, this was the first time I was going to be here with Vietnamese people. This was also the first time I was here – or at any pub – to discuss matters of democracy and freedom in general, and for Vietnam in particular. Actually, this felt exhilarating, for I always knew I was capable of creating a dent in history (I was blessed with many talents and gifts), and maybe it’ll just be a small mark, but I wanted to leave behind something for all of posterity…the pleasant ambient lighting settled me in for some beer…ahh, maybe I’ll let MT off the hook this time…

A little later that night other registrees of the weekend seminar arrived, and the party started. But more important work was to come in the following two days…

Saturday October 15, 2011

location: York University, student centre

Everyone arrived eager to learn about the tools of digi-activism. The speakers were members of Viet Tan from Washington D.C. The first speaker gave a presentation about the pillars of a dictatorship regime, and how non-violence can be a powerful tool to undermine the regime.

The second presenter spoke about the tools activists use to promote democracy and address human rights issues, such as blogs (!), twitter, Facebook and mobile devices to organize and gather individual activists.

The third speaker gave an introduction about the Viet Tan reform party, its history, goals and future directions.

In between the presentations we had group activities encouraging us to brain storm ways in which to promote democracy, justice and human rights. It was a very interactive experience and this allowed the participants to get to know each other better. Finally, after all the presentations and group activities, we all left and gathered at a restaurant for dinner. Our minds were crammed with information and facts, and it was time to cram our stomachs with food. Tomorrow was going to be another big day.

Sunday October 16, 2011

location: York University, student centre

Today was going to be a half-day seminar, yesterday’s seminar lasting from morning to late afternoon. After reviewing the previous day’s talks, we went on to generate ideas for a digi-activism project, which would be spearheaded by the Toronto digi-activism group. Many great ideas surfaced, but we settled on a video project inspired by will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” video. The goals were the following:

1) raise awareness about the 15 Vietnamese Catholic youth activists detained in Vietnam

2) the script for the video would come from the writings of one of the detained activist, Paulus Le Son

3) gather as many participants for the video from as many places in the world as we can

The video project got launched that Digi-activism seminar weekend, and this is the result:

GO DIGI-ACTIVISM TORONTO!

– Anh Nhật

Photos courtesy of members of PBC and VT (Kev, CL, Lan).

Ottawa: Protest Against Communism

Sunday, April 17, 2011 – Ottawa, ON.

This past Sunday, the Chinese and Filipino communities and Vietnamese-Canadians from Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal, Ottawa, and other regions of Canada gathered in front of the Chinese and Vietnamese embassies in Ottawa to voice their protest against communism and its endless injustices and atrocities, and also to show our support that Vietnam might see a “Jasmine Revolution” of their own. A few hundred participants were present for the peaceful protest, wielding signs and banners that read “Human Rights for Vietnam,” “Freedom for Vietnam,” “Revolution Jasmine is Revolution Lotus,” and similar strong, positive messages in English, French, and Vietnamese. Megaphones amplified our strongest “weapon”: our voices.

Of course, many youth members of the community were in attendance that chilly Sunday morning, including members from DTNPBC Toronto and local Vietnamese Student Associations (VSA). At the end of the day, it was a another successful protest.

Look forward to more updates as Black April commemoration (April 30th, the 36th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon) approaches!

Thank you to our photographer Brian Nguyen.

HAPPY 2ND BIRTHDAY, PBC TORONTO!

Sunday, March 13th, 2011 – Northwood Community Centre, Toronto

Yesterday evening, Đoàn Thanh Niên Phan Bội Châu Toronto celebrated their 2nd anniversary. It has been a little over 2 years since the first members of DTNPBC Toronto set out together to help bring Freedom, Justice, Democracy and Human Rights to Vietnam; to help our brothers and sisters overseas, whose voices have been long oppressed, to build a better and brighter future for themselves and for their country.

With all the inspiring uprisings that have taken place this past year in the Middle Eastern countries, we are more hopeful now than ever to see a similar change take place in Vietnam. And even more so, we are determined.

So today, I would like to dedicate a post to our members. In my eyes, DTNPBC is one great big family. Even before we all knew each other, before we came together as PBC, many of us and our parents and grandparents were already fighting for the same cause and fostering the same dreams and aspirations for the future of our homeland. I am also very thankful to all our wonderful and constant supporters. There’s always this indescribable feeling of closeness you have with other people when you know that together you’re accomplishing something great. That’s how I feel when I am with our members. I don’t think I could ever find this again somewhere else. Let’s keep working hard together in the future!

And now for a song that always gets my fighting spirit pumped up… 😀

CONGRATULATIONS, DTNPBC TORONTO! I LOVE YOU ALL!!!

A final memento of PBC's 2-year anniversary

More photos to come!

On a final note, my heart goes out to the people of Japan who have been affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami last week. We keep you all in our prayers; stay strong!

Hoi Cho Tet 2011

International Centre, Mississauga, Ontario – Saturday, January 22nd, 2011: Vietnamese Lunar New Year Festival

Chuc Mung Nam Moi… Happy year of the CAT! 🙂

Last Saturday was the annual Hoi Cho Tet Festival at the International Centre in Mississauga. Usually they’d have two going on at once–one in Mississauga and the other in Toronto–but this year it was just one gigantic HCT. It was cold that day, so very cold… It even snowed some, too. But that didn’t seem to stop the usual masses from hoarding to HCT like every year.

What did stop a number of regular attendees and organizations, though, was a controversy surrounding one of the MC’s hired to host the HCT concert. I will only go over this in brief, but the story seems to be that Nguyen Cao Ky Duyen, whom you may recognize from Thuy Nga Paris By Night, became the reason for the HCT boycott after she was hired to MC a dinner to promote business relations between the Vietnamese communist government and the United States. During this dinner, she introduced an official for the Vietnamese communist embassy, while wishing him prosperity and giving him a praising welcome. Her actions quickly became subject for criticism among the North American communities of the Vietnamese diaspora. They felt that after showing her good will to the Vietnamese communists, she was in no position to be representing our community at any event, and certainly not at a festival as prominent as Hoi Cho Tet. Our community has long been advocating for Freedom, Justice, Democracy, and Human Rights in Vietnam, all of which have been non-existent since 1975 when the country fell under communist rule. Whether it is for work or money or any reason, we can in no way knowingly agree to support Vietnamese communism, which is destroying our motherland, oppressing our people, and continuing to taint the minds of its youths with its totalitarian ideals.

Our members got together before the day of HCT and together PBC decided not to boycott HCT 2011, but we do strongly share in the feelings of the Vietnamese diaspora and are fully aware of but do not in any way condone the actions of Nguyen Cao Ky Duyen. Personally I believe our choice to participate this year was justified. Our reasons for participating were to talk to and educate the community members, fly our Vietnamese Freedom and Heritage Flag, not show defeat in the face of difficulties, and support the Vietnamese-Canadian community in general.

I think at the end of the day, though different groups made different decisions, the outcome does further our cause. Having a number of regulars boycotting such a big event does make a statement, but we also needed some groups to participate in HCT, else our true cause will be utterly lost on the people. I think PBC’s youthful presence and VT’s long-standing experience made a positive difference at this year’s HCT.

For Hoi Cho Tet, PBC’s talented members made a new presentation board, business cards, and cute “cat pins” especially for the new year of the cat. I was able to speak to and meet a handful of young people with a lot of knowledge, interest, and potential. Although I spent most of my time there at PBC’s table, it was really worthwhile.

Photography courtesy of Huy Trinh and Natalie Vuong. Thank you!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year with PBC

Yesterday night was our PBC Christmas gathering. It was one awesome get-together. Copious amounts of Rock Band, billiards, Monopoly Deal, and crazy good food, late into the night.

When we were young, my Mum used to whip up this awesome dessert called a Trifle for our family gatherings every year–layers upon layers of custard, whipping cream, liquor-soaked pound cake, and colourful fruits and berries in a huge crystal dessert bowl. Beautiful. So yesterday my little cousin Natalie and I decided to make our own trifle for the gathering… It was a big success. 😀

We worked hard to make it aesthetically pleasing, as you can see below:

Yes, people: WE MADE THAT. Impressed? Hehe. 😉

It was so great to spend time with everyone again yesterday. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Hope you were all able to celebrate the weekend in a meaningful way and with loved ones. I know I did!

In my case, I am thankful for love and for life, and having many amazing people to share it with. Each and every one of them are a blessing to me!

This year I broke the usual traditions and went to attend Oktoberfest for the Thanksgiving long weekend. Actually, a group of us from PBC Toronto traveled down to the Kitchener-Waterloo region to join Hoi Nguoi Viet Kitchener-Waterloo to represent the Vietnamese-Canadian community in the Oktoberfest parade. We needed to wake up super early (by that I mean 5:30AM!), so it was an overnight trip with lots of preparing and bonding. In the morning it was freezing and we stood around amidst the line up of floats and paraders for a good while, dancing and huddling and shivering in our traditional Vietnamese clothing… which, I might add, is very thin. Then when the procession began to march, the sun came up and the rain started pouring. Luckily us girls had these awesome Vietnamese hats (nón quai thao) we could use like umbrellas, haha. Despite the cold, the rain, and the horse droppings along the 5km walk, I feel that we helped to represent the Vietnamese community well and had an awesome time doing so. And a huuuge crowd came out to watch! I’m totally in for doing this again next year. If all goes as planned, we’re going to have a FLOAT, too!

Photos can be found at the following links. Photographer: My papa! 🙂

Oktoberfest 2010 – Floats & Paraders

Oktoberfest 2010 – Cong Dong Nguoi Viet Tu Do

Our success could not have happened without our many supporters who put such great effort and enthusiasm into all that they do. Thank you to everyone: the diligent organizers, our designated drivers, superb cooks, energetic participants, encouraging parents, avid supporters, among others. I am sincerely thankful to be a part of this amazing, inspiring, close and caring group of individuals.

As for the X JAPAN concert… I don’t think I’ll be blogging about that. It’s not that I have nothing to write or too much to write… I just simply can’t find the perfect words to describe it, so I’ll just conclude by saying that it was possibly the best night of my life. It’s hard to imagine how anything in my life will ever be able to live up to the hype of that one evening, hahaha. 😛 Thank you to my awesome old friend who got us second row seats right in front of Pata and Heath! WE ARE X!!!

18-09-2010 Fundraising for Democracy Activists in Vietnam

September 18, 2010: Fundraising for Democracy Activists in Vietnam – Tiệc Gây Qũy Yểm Trợ Phong Trào Dân Chủ Cho Việt Nam

Last Saturday evening at the Royal Dragon Restaurant in Mississauga, our Vietnamese-Canadian community came together to organize and support a charity dinner in order to raise funds for democracy activists in Vietnam. These righteous, brave, and outspoken activists have been and continue to play a crucial part in supporting the movement for freedom, democracy, and human rights in Vietnam, all of which are virtually non-existent and ever overshadowed by the corrupt communist government and their unjust ideals. From where we are, in any way possible, we must give them our full support!

We also had honoured guests who made the trip from the United States to contribute their support. Mr. Đỗ Thành Công, a former political prisoner and democracy activist who was unjustly imprisoned by the Vietnamese communist government, was one such guest in attendance at the charity. He gave a rousing powerpoint presentation detailing his knowledge of critical issues that Vietnam is and will soon be facing due to the incompetence and corruption in the country and especially within the governing party. Mr. Đỗ Thành Công and three of his party members were arrested in August of 2006. He himself was arrested and subsequently deported. Lê Nguyên Sang, a member of the People’s Democratic Party of Vietnam (Đảng Dân Chủ Nhân Dân) served 4 years in prison for violating article 88 of the criminal code, which forbids “conducting propaganda against the state.” They were released recently in 2009 and 2010. However, the irony is that these prisoners have never actually posed a direct threat; they simply spoke aloud their mind, and their words did not agree with the government–hence they were imprisoned without just reason or cause.

Concern is ever growing. The amount of jail sentences for political prisoners in Vietnam totals to about 187 years, and that is only from what we do know at this point. Dozens of independent bloggers and democracy activists like Ms. Phạm Thanh Nghiên, Ms. Trần Khải Thanh Thủy, and Ms. Lê Thị Công Nhân, just to name a few well-known activists, have been arrested (in some cases also beaten) in Vietnam and no doubt we will see more of such injustice to come if we sit idly and do nothing to stop it.

Furthermore, the Vietnamese government has been relying on communist China for “protection,” yielding its lands to the threatening and rising superpower to the North–lands such as Hòang Sa and Trường Sa, Vietnam’s Paracel and Spratly Islands, an act that has caused an uproar from Vietnamese around the globe and even within the usually suppressed country. The Vietnam-China border continues to move, wherein China expands their territory while Vietnam is losing more land. By buying the “protection” of a similarly communistic country, the Vietnamese communist party ensures that they will remain in absolute power. Vietnam has proudly upheld its own for thousands of years, and to let this happen is not only an outrage, but I feel like it is a tragedy, as well.

I managed to learn a lot on Saturday between the stress of performing and the awesome fun we had dancing. I couldn’t catch all of Mr. Đỗ Thành Công’s presentation, though he covered a lot of very serious and note-worthy aspects and what I do remember I have already written about here. I am so glad to have the opportunity to not only attend but also be of help to the organizers. After every successful event, I get that awesome feeling of gratefulness that I am able to be a part of an amazing community and know the most inspiring people whom I love enough to call family. 😀

P.S. Check out the links I’ve put up on the left of my page, too. I just added the link to “VietAm Review.” The blog is in English and contains some very interesting politically-charged articles. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Back after an unexpected absence

My absence was uncalled for. I didn’t know the summer term would have me so preoccupied. That, and I can be naturally quite lazy. But anyway, I’m back!

I went to Orange County in California for my cousin’s wedding during the last week of June. It was spectacular, unfortunately I had to miss the G20 protest which was on the same day as the wedding: June 26th, 2010. I stayed up to date with Toronto news while over there but I still wish I could have been in two places at one time. My friend posted a blog about his experience at the G20 protest that day, so if you’d like, you can head on over to his WordPress and read his very insightful thoughts: Que Huong Meets The Great White North. He also attended the uNAVSA conference in Washington D.C. Find him under the LINKS section to the left of my page.

PBC camping was last week — Trai An Tinh. I loved it, just completely loved it. It was the perfect weekend of bonding and appreciation (and horribly good mosquito bites). Didn’t shower while I was there, though. Haha! However, I did wash my hair in a sink, with the encouragement of our awesome VP Internal. Heehee. 🙂 I hope my younger brother and little cousin who came along have been inspired to get involved now. They are both such bright young minds.

PBC will be involved in an annual charity dinner in September, as well. It is to raise money for the families of Freedom Fighters in Vietnam, who constantly face the communist government’s injustice while advocating for humans rights and democracy within the country. I’m excited for that, but I hope we won’t get seated next to the speakers again as usual. 😛

My friends and I have gotten tickets to a once in a lifetime concert (well, for us, anyway)… X-JAPAN IN TORONTO!!! I freaked out after hearing about it and now we’ve got second row seats to the show on October 7th at Massey Hall. My friend woke up early to get those seats on the first day. I bow down to him, haha. Talk about a dream come true. I honestly never thought I’d get to see the grandfathers of J-rock, live on stage, ever in my lifetime. 😀

After that I also hope to hear the Dalai Lama’s public talk on October 22nd at the Rogers Centre. He will be talking about “Human Approaches to World Peace” and it’s always been my dream to meet him in person. He is one truly amazing and admirable soul. If you’d like to learn more about His Holiness’ visit to Toronto, see this site:

http://www.dalailamatoronto2010.org/

Time to get a steady job because I have a feeling I’m going to be totally broke by the start of the Fall term. 😦

Like my collection of JRR Tolkien novels, my list of Life Plans is ever growing. And it’s so nice to have one, too. I used to think I wanted to just settle down early after graduating, and I held a rather old-fashioned outlook on life. But after I started the list, I realized I could never go through with that because of all the things I truly want to experience and accomplish before becoming “tied down” to anything. I often find myself in conflict over the future. It really does feel like there’s so little time.

It’s fast approaching… can’t wait for SECOND YEAR!!!

I leave you with some PBC appreciation camp photos (my Papa didn’t take many). Good night!

PBC Trai An Tinh photos