Last week, the Second Annual Global Diaspora Forum was held in Washington, DC. The event was hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In her opening remarks, she focused on the Vietnamese diaspora and the work of OneVietnam Network. Here is an excerpt from her speech:
Now, I saw this myself just two weeks ago when I visited Hanoi with a delegation of American businesses. This is a priority for us, because as I emphasized throughout my trip across Asia, economic growth and political reform are linked and we are supporting both. The business leaders were all buzzing about the opportunities they are discovering in Vietnam’s burgeoning market. But a few savvy entrepreneurs were clearly way ahead of the curve. One was Jonathan Hanh Nguyen. He had left Vietnam as a young man, lived in the Philippines, and then studied in the United States, and when relations between America and Vietnam opened up in the 1990s, he was one of the first to see the economic potential. And he built a thriving business bringing well-known American brands into the Vietnamese marketplace, from designer clothing to fast food pizza, creating in the process thousands of jobs and bringing our countries closer together.
Now, that’s one way the diaspora has and continues to make a difference, but it’s certainly not the only way. One of the founding partners of the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance is the nonprofit OneVietnam Network, which uses the power of social networking to connect thousands of people in Vietnam – thousands of people of Vietnamese origin – in 30 countries, with health and development projects on the ground in Vietnam, like a cleft lip and palette clinic in Hanoi or dental missions in rural villages, that makes it easier for members of the diaspora to contribute directly to projects they care about and to see the impact of their donations.
So whether it’s a profitable business venture or an innovative nonprofit, we can see just from the example of one diaspora, namely the Vietnamese diaspora, how you can help bring progress and prosperity to a once closed country.