Phuong's involvement with ISC went all the way back to when she joined the conference as a participant of the topic "Democracy and Global Order". Now accompanied with her passion toward gender issues, Phuong is back as the chief of the topic "The Feminist Perspectives in Wars and Conflicts".
"As my study continues and my research expands, I remember countless times when my heart was touched tremendously by what I read and heard about women in wars and time of transition to peace. Living in Vietnam and having seen how Vietnam recovers from the wars, I have realized the impacts of wars could extend even after the declaration of peace."
Q１. Please tell us what are the reasons/motivations that made you apply for ISC65 as a table chief?
Last year I was part of ISC64 as a table member – Table 2 “Democracy and Global Order.” I really enjoyed seeing Japan and discussing, working alongside other table members. We definitely had good times together and made some lasting friendships with people around the world. Seeing how dedicated last year’s committee members were and how they enjoyed themselves organizing the conference, I am encouraged to return this year and enjoy the conference in a different position than that of last year.
Moreover, my Master program is Asian studies – so I have been trying to be more active in the region on which I will be researching. Not only would it help me see more and better understand the many aspects of the region for my research, it would also help me in terms of opportunities – either academic-related or not.
Lastly, ISC offers a very different experience from my usual ones in the academia. At ISC, we try to formulate policy proposals, based on our research on a specific set of issues. This requires more than just understanding and analyzing the problems which is what we often do in the academia. In this sense, ISC kinda forces me outside of my comfort zone and requires me to apply the knowledge gained in practical situations – this is what I appreciate most about the conference.
Q２.Can you share with us the reasons you chose the topic?
I was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. My grandparents on both sides and my parents lived through the Vietnam war, the stories of which they often recount. Since I was little, I was aware of the personal narratives within the larger, often considered as “official” narrative of history. I have always been amazed by how big events in history translate into personal lives – which has led me to realize how the “official” narrative is mainly based on the experience of certain groups in society and thus overlooking those of some others, one of such group is women.
Additionally, as a girl who happens to take interest in studying wars, I found myself in a world which appreciates values often associated with men. I have been mostly trained as an anthropologist during my Bachelor program and I am fascinated by anthropological studies on wars and conflicts. I focus mostly on studying Korea and Vietnam – of course, the two places with two of the most notorious wars in history. As my study continues and my research expands, I remember countless times when my heart was touched tremendously by what I read and heard about women in wars and time of transition to peace. Living in Vietnam and having seen how Vietnam recovers from the wars, I have realized the impacts of wars could extend even after the declaration of peace. This is why I brought up this issue and want to look at both wartime as well as post-wartime.
Q３.What do you think about your table’s activities in overall now?
In terms of activities, I am excited to be able to organize readings, discussions and study sessions on my favorite topic for everyone. It has been a pleasure and also strengthened my knowledge tremendously (hope everyone enjoys the topic hehe). During the preparation, we also get to know experts within the field, whom I greatly admire and appreciate for their help as our mentors.
In terms of the people, I am super glad and excited to have 8 amazing humans as table members and sub-chiefs! Women in wars is the topic that each and every members of Table 2 hold close to our hearts and minds. Although the conference has not officially started yet, we have been working together to build a firm basis for our final policy proposals. Working with people who are passionate and dedicated is not only enjoyable but also encouraging. Usually, we do not talk that much as a table due to the distance and everyone’s busy schedule. Nonetheless, I am glad that all the table members and sub-chiefs are responsible and willing to discuss whenever possible. I really look forward to meeting everyone in person at the conference and hope that everyone will have a great time together.
Q４. Can you share hare with us some of your feelings towards the upcoming ISC65?
I hope I have been doing and will do my job as a table chief well. I hope all members of my table, as well as those from other tables, will learn many things from this conference, have a good time and make long-lasting friendships – just as I did in last year’s conference.
Q5. Can you tell us a little bit about your hometown?
I am from Ho Chi Minh city – a city in the South of Vietnam. During French colonial time, the city was named “pearl of the Orient.” Fun fact, there is also a Notre-Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh city and all the materials used to build it were imported from France. Ho Chi Minh city is now a place of bustling business and migration, both internal migrants from other parts of Vietnam as well as international expats – a dynamic place full of opportunities, as people often describe it. Thanks to this history and path of development, Ho Chi Minh city has become a multi-cultural and open-minded place. In the central districts, you can see the French architecture and medieval Europe urban design mixing with high-rise apartment buildings and skyscrapers brighten by neon lights. There are also bustling markets and towns of the Hoa (Chinese descents) as well as Cambodia population – selling diverse items and serving delicious Chinese/Cambodian specialties. More recent comers to Ho Chi Minh city include the Korean and Japanese population, mostly living in district 2 and 7, adding to the multicolored social and cultural fabric of the city.